About two weeks post-surgery, I went to see Dr. F. again. He looked over the surgery site and declared that I was healing well. He then proceeded to provide me with a referral to an oncologist. Outwardly I wore my classic under-reacting face of stoicism and control. Inside I was flailing around like a palm tree in a hurricane. An oncologist?! What the hell did I need an oncologist for? I was healed, right? Cancer-free. My lymph nodes had been negative, so that meant no chemo or tamoxifen.
What am I missing??
My world revolves around denial; it is so often what allows me to function as a whole person throughout the day. My tumor had been large, 6 cm. The cells had been aggressive, grade 3 with high necrosis. My final pathology report from the biopsy revealed that not only were the cells maniacally racing around the ducts in my breast like a roomful of sugar-high 5 year olds, but they were also starting to tear down the walls. They had made their way into the tissue of my breast. They were heading toward the light that is my lymph node to jump on the tube with stops all over my body.
Mind the gap, my special little cells of destruction.
I had also officially been diagnosed with Paget’s disease, something that had never come up before, and thus something I knew practically nothing about. Maybe that was the reason.
Grimly, Dr. F. says: I don’t know if he will recommend chemotherapy at this point or not.
So of course I went home and did as much research as I could. And still feeling deathly afraid of both chemo and tamoxifen, I looked for research and studies that went against their use. Unfortunately in the end I found practically no research for not only young women with cancer, but there was nothing for young women with a unilateral mastectomy and no signs of cancer in the other breast.And I couldn’t believe the number of young women who readily took tamoxifen and accused those few outspoken women who had rejected tamoxifen of practically inviting cancer in for cocktails.
What would be the benefit of either at this point? The known cancer was gone, I presumed, so was this a preventative measure for the lone survivor which showed no signs of cancer at all? I knew I was now at increased risk for developing cancer in my right breast, but what would chemo or drugs do for me at this point besides make me look and feel sick?
Of course, I already felt sick. What did I do to deserve this? I don’t smoke, I eat healthy, I exercise regularly, I use BPA-free products. Why?? And the ongoing pity party in my head that had been in full swing since initial diagnosis until lymph node biopsy results had resumed. And I prepared to meet the newest member of my team, Dr. M.