In 2009, I was faced with large masses on my ovaries and had a total hysterectomy. So yes, being 30 and having a hysterectomy seems pretty sucky to most people. In some ways, I’d been preparing for it all my life. I’d had a horrible history with ovarian cysts and hormonal issues. I knew I carried the BRCA2 gene* and was high risk for ovarian cancer. I basically lived in my GYN’s office since the age of 12. I really never had a year where I didn’t get to experience some threat of surgery, new medicine or therapy, some complication, etc. I’m pretty sure I have put in the hours to be a back-alley lab tech and ultrasound tech. In fact, I think I’d be pretty dang good at it because like most people with any type of chronic condition or reason to be a frequent flyer at a doctor’s office…I had to learn to be my own advocate. This particular year though, I’d had a full year of not having to do anything but show up for my annual exam and annual ultrasound. I attributed it to the fact that I’d lost a lot of weight and was healthier in general. So when my doctor came in to tell me about the need for surgery and the large masses shown in the ultrasound I was pretty shocked. I mean, I knew surgery was the only option for me at some point. I had just not seen this coming AT ALL.
So I get through surgery just fine, (By-the-way, menopause is a bitch – especially in the summertime in Arkansas) but because of the surgery and the fact that I was now 30, I had to add regular mammogram and breast MRI to my yearly routine. I had the mammogram earlier in the year but 6 months after the hysterectomy, I had my first MRI.
Now, I have spent my whole life scared to death of ovarian cancer. I mean, I had the medical history and the gene and my grandmother was 41 when she died from it. I was a ticking time-bomb. I knew the connection between ovarian and breast cancer. I obviously knew, that’s why I had to start having regular breast MRIs. It never occurred to me -ever- that I’d be at such risk for breast cancer. It also never occurred to me that I’d have my first MRI and have to immediately have a breast ultrasound because I had a spot in my left breast that they needed to “check out.” (Side note: I’m pretty sure I could be a back alley mammography tech now too – except for the fact that I’m not a sadist.)
The spot is 7mm and 3 cm below the nipple. I’m looking at the images when my doctor says, “let’s talk about our options. I can continue to monitor you like we planned, alternating mammograms and MRIs every 6 months. We might do that for the rest of your life with no issues, but that’s unlikely giving that your gene study has been updated* and you’re currently at a 92% risk for cancer. You’ve seen what it’s like to live without the threat of ovarian cancer for 6 months now. So let’s talk about a bilateral mastectomy.” My response? “New boobies?? Seriously?!”
I was in shock. I mean, with the hysterectomy and ovarian cancer risk of 94% I had spent my whole life wondering when the ax would drop and I’d be going through chemo, losing hair and sick. The 6 months leading up to the MRI was the first time in my life I got live free of that dark cloud over my head. I never thought I’d have anything ever show up ‘suspicious’ in my breasts. Never.
But the thought of new boobies?! I mean, I had weight-loss surgery in 2007. For someone that’s never breast-fed a baby, I sure look like I’ve had 8 kids. So the thought of getting a rack that doesn’t sag, where my nipples are perky and the skin doesn’t fold into my bra…WINNING!
I figure, if I have to do this…might as well be excited about new boobies.
*Note: On Aug. 6, 2012, I received notification that I am actually BRCA2 negative. Please see my post on Aug. 7 to find out more.