As usual I felt sick in the pit of my stomach as we traveled to the hospital. The waiting room is packed, we take the last two seats. Everyone looks so desperate in here. I scan the room and hope that everyone else is just there for scans and their journey can end today with a clear result.
We wait anxiously for over an hour in the waiting room. My heart palpitating at a whole new level. I cross my fingers as I wait. I pray that the margins have come back clear and no more surgery is required.
Oh god it's time. The nurse asks for my date of birth and I real it off as usual. My whole bosy is pulsing with nerves.
When I enter the room I'm surprised that my regular consultant, Mrs S is away and Tracy my regular breast nurse isn't there either. Mr H introduces himself by name, not title. There's something I dislike about him but I cant put my finger on it. He asks me if I've had any pain and I explain how I've been feeling. "Right, first things first, lets take a look - is that ok?" I head behind the curtain and do the standard top half strip. Gown on.
He looks at the scar, says it's healing well. Then asks if he can have a look at my right breast. I agree. He's happy that they are looking similar in size. "Ok, get dressed." I feel calmer, maybe it's good news if he's checking the size match - hopefully no more surgery.
I put my clothes back on and sit back down.
"So we have the results back from your central excision. There was DCIS found in the margins so you will need to have a mastectomy with immediate reconstruction." He refers to the DCIS as pre-cancer and I feel anger in the pit of my tummy.
Listen mate, I think to myself, I can tell you this is NOT pre-cancer. My lovely Macmillan nurse has said the same. It is very much breast cancer, I'm just 'lucky' it has been caught early enough for it not to have spread. I think back to the pre-cancerous cells that were found on a regular smear test - I wasn't told I needed a hysterectomy was I?? If it's not cancer then why the actual hell are you proposing to chop my boob off!?
He continues... "We will insert an expander first then later replace with silicone I can do that for you on 8th February. Now, it wont look the same as before, it wont feel the same as before but we hope to give you a fair result. Any questions?"
Fair? What the hell is that supposed to mean? None of this is fair.
I nodded as he spoke but inside I was dying. I had hoped with all my heart that it would not come to this. I asked him about the margins and he explained that all edges bar one were positive and the one clear margin was only 1mm.
All along, deep down, I've known it would come to this... a mastectomy. And having had this in the back of my head, I had made a decision that when/if it did happen, I would like to opt for a bilateral mastectomy. Take both away. I'd said that backin December as soon as I got the initial diagnosis. If only I'd pushed for it.
I tell him I want to have a double mastectomy rather than just the left. He dismisses me, tells me that it's not an option. They would never remove a healthy breast. I explain that I am still worried there is something wrong in the right side. He dismisses me again and tells me that all scans were clear. I remind him the scans were clear on the diseased breast too. "Yes, but you had the discharge and you don't on the right."
IT'S MY GODDAMN BODY!!!!! WHY CANT I JUST MAKE MY OWN DECISION?!
I begin to cry at the enormity of what we've just been told and Chris holds my hand. We hug.
But then I stop, the clouds in my head parting for a moment. I wonder why I've just been TOLD what was happening instead of discussing all of the reconstruction options that I've read about. Then I get angry again. I don't even know who this man is, what's his job? I don't want him to do my operation. Is he a doctor? A consultant? What?
I had wanted a mastectomy from the start but I was persuaded that that was completely unnecessary and that a 'breast conserving' central excision would be best for me but if later down the line I wanted a risk reducing mastectomy then that would be fine, I could do that, but that was obviously a lie.
When the nurse returns I tell her again, I'd really like to opt for a double mastectomy but she tells me if that's really what I want then I would have to have the risk reducing mastectomy later down the line. The left mastectomy is their priority and if I want the right gone too then I'll need to wait months and months and see a psychologist so he can confirm that I am aware of the consequences of my actions! Wow.
I ask her to explain the reasons why and this time she explains that if I was to catch an infection on the right side from the risk reducing surgery and then an invasive cancer was to be found on the left then I could potentially be putting myself at risk. An infection due to an unnecessary operation could potentially prevent me from having life saving treatment if invasive cancer is discovered. A lot of ifs!
Next I ask about the different flap reconstruction options. I really don't want silicone - especially if I'm only having it in one side. I picture myself in my 80s with one perky boob on the left and one saggy dog ear on the right - imagine the sight - I'd look like a bloody Darlek!!
The nurse hands me a Breast Cancer Care booklet with details of all of the reconstruction options available. I tell her my feelings on silicone and that I don't really want to have an implant. Ideally I'd prefer a DIEP flap reconstruction where they take fat from your tummy and use that to reconstruct a new breast. She tells me they don't do that at this hospital. I explain my feelings and she heads back in to see Mr H. She said "Mr H says that's a shame because he thinks your the perfect candidate for silicone, he says if you don't want implants then he could do a back flap here at this hospital." No thanks!! I'm fuming that these options weren't given to me 20 minutes ago when I was with him myself. She tells me to take the booklet home and have a read then call back if I still want to discuss my options.
Chris asks about Mrs S performing the surgery but apparently shes not back until the end of the month and they don't want to delay. Hmmm, if it's ONLY pre-cancer then why the urgency. I hate this day. I feel like the nurse just wants us to leave. Chris probes again "Who is Mr H? Is he any good?" The nurse says he's a lovely man. Chris replies "I don't care how nice he is!Is he any good with a knife and fork?" I smirk. The nurse tells us all of the surgeons are fantastic.
I have another question - no one has told me the results of my hormone test. Again the nurse heads back in to Mr H. "Oh he didn't know you hadn't been told, sorry. You're Oestrogen positive 7/8. I have no idea what this means and it's not explained but my heart is pounding with all of my emotions.
Upset, sadness and anger fill me.
We leave with the mastectomy info sheet and sentinal node bipsy sheet and the reconstruction option booklet.
This is not over. I am so disappointed.