Sep 9, 2020 05:01AM Mountainlover wrote:
Hello everyone, I have been reading extensively since my diagnosis but this is my first post. I found this topic very helpful and thought I'd contribute.
I was diagnosed with what first appeared to be a 1.5 cm IDC/DCIS in my left breast further to the annual screening (mammo and ultrasound). I'm sure something was there the year before, too (and even earlier) but I guess my very dense breasts made it tricky to see. Anyway, as part of my pre-surgical exams I underwent an MRI with contrast which revealed a number of suspicious masses in the same breast. Subsequent biopsies confirmed multi centricity so the plan moved from lumpectomy + radiation to mastectomy. This was very hard for me to accept, especially since the first BS I saw excluded immediate recon and announced 10/15 lymph nodes dissection "to be on the safe side" due to the multicentric nature of the cancer.
I went for a second opinion and it turned out that despite my multiple masses, as they were all in the same area of the breast sentinel node technique would be possible. The second BS (and the PS in the same breast cancer team) also indicated that a NSM would in principle be possible if I wanted (subject to infra- and post-op confirmation that no cancer cells affected the nipple), with TE placement or direct to implant depending on the state of the mastectomy flap during surgery. It was my choice to go for implants as opposed to autologous flap.
I woke up from surgery with TE, my nipple still in place (yay!) and only 1 node removed, which was a great relief. Surgical margins of the smaller mass (0.3 mm) were very very close but during emergency surgery the next day (due to a large hematoma) the surgeon scraped some more tissue and was satisfied this would be enough. I don't feel so confident but hey...
Histology confirmed 4 invasive tubular cancers ranging from 0.8 to 0.3 mm. Only the largest one, which was close to an approx 1 cm area of DCIS, was picked by the annual mammo and ultrasound. I am still in shock at how ineffective regular screenings can be in case of dense breasts. No-one ever mentioned this to me and having no family history I was blissfully unaware.
Anyway, after surgery I was informed that no chemo nor radio would be needed, but I was placed on Femara. The MO stated that I was "lucky in that this type of cancer is more likely not to return than to return" but AI would still be the plan as they cut the risk of recurrence (MO didn't use the term mets) by 50%. I should add that I was perimenopausal back in 2016 - 2017 when a number of doctors insisted I should take HRT due to my age (45 then). My perimenopausal symptoms were mild and I was concerned about the HRT risks but after a number of consultations I finally started with a combined ER and PR pill. 2.5 years later the cancer diagnosis...
I have looked at statistics online and I know I can consider myself "lucky" in that prognosis is very good with tubular. Still, even if Femara is not a walk in the park, cutting even by 0.3% my risk of cancer-related death in 15 years seems worth to me personally, at least as long as side effects remain manageable. Please don't get me wrong, no judgment here whatsoever! It is still early days for me , so far I have noticed joint pains (for which I try to exercise around 1hr per day and take curcumin) hair loss (I've started Hair Band treatment) and vaginal dryness (both BS and MO were ok with me taking estrogen ovules 1x week . I also add another lubricant 2xweek and all is well so far). BS and MO are also ok with Femarelle (soy-derived) to help with menopause symptoms. In fact, it was prescribed by BS number 1. I cannot help but thinking that if I had a more aggressive cancer they would prohibit it.
Sorry for the long post. Just wanted to say that I am immensely grateful for all the wisdom and information shared in these boards. I hope I can reciprocate at least partly by putting my own experience here.