Thursday, June 3, 2010
Where's the Pain?
This amazes me. For two years now my breasts have been foremost on my mind. It was exactly two years ago that I was scheduled for my first biopsy. That biopsy was rescheduled to accommodate my summer schedule, plus there was some denial going on. It may have been postponed, but I was already on the roller coaster that carried me through even more biopsies, mammos, MRIs, ultrasounds, pathology results, breast surgery consults, plastic surgery consults, and ultimately my decision to have a PBM with DIEP at BIDMC in Boston.
As I sit here in comfy clothes with my binder on (I like it!), thinking back to this whole journey, I am reminded of my biggest fear. Pain. Because I had so much time to make a decision on what to do about my LCIS, I focused alot on pain. I read about post mastectomy pain syndrome and nerve damage and general long term regrets. Since there is no going back I really needed to make sure I understood all the risks. Then I had to decide if the risks of moving forward outweighed the risks of doing nothing. So, at my pre-op visit with Maria in Dr. Tobias' office, I had four pages of questions that she so graciously answered in depth and with humor. 90% of those questions were about pain. The other 10% were about breast size. My fears were certainly bubbling to the surface. I remember thinking that if I was going to back out that now would be the time.
Since everyone is different, no one can tell you definitively what it will be like for YOU. But you won't know until you take the leap. In my calculating mind, I knew that my risk for lymphodema was zero since I didn't need to have a sentinel node biopsy. Remember, what I had was LCIS (lobular carcinoma in situ), a non-invasive bc, which is perceived as a marker for increased risk of bc, not a pre-curser. So, I knew I could dodge that bullet, but I worried alot about residual pain.
At first, immediately after my surgery, I thought I had some nerve damage in my arm. It was there for about 2 weeks, then disappeared. It was very uncomfortable. My fears of residual pain were surfacing, but I was still glad to have had my risk of bc reduced.
I am lucky. Lucky to have had an aggressive local breast surgeon who was committed to understanding my 'complicated' breasts. Lucky to have found LCIS and nothing more. Lucky to have the time to research and understand my options. Lucky to have a supportive family who could step in for us while we spent many days away from home. Lucky to have friends who circled us with love, compassion, support, flowers and food! And lucky to have had very little pain and now to have no pain at all.