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Nov 12, 2020 02:35AM
Thank you for posting in when you have so much on your mind about your heart problems. I think it is a bit much that you got only a phone consultation with a cardiac surgeon as nothing can compare with a face to face consultation, but this seems to be the way of the future. It is certainly what is happening here with GPs and I would not be surprised that it is the same with consultants.
I was sorry to read that you are now being referred to a different surgeon who does both valves, the aortic valve and perhaps the mitral valve. When all this started were you told that you needed two different valve replacements, because that would have saved a lot of time. I definitely understand your frustration at all this and I think you have been very patient. Have these medical experts any idea of the stress that they put patients through?
I can certainly understand that you are having second thoughts about this invasive surgery.
I can understand it even more because of the other issues that have been brought up. It just shows you the unforeseen consequences, both short term and long term of cancer treatment.
I can understand about the sternum, the osteoporosis factor and the longer time to heal but if it will heal then that is a comforting fact to know. I can only say that Raymond is now nine months away from when he had his surgery and had the sternum (breast bone) cut through and separated. It has now healed nicely but there is a long pinkish scar very visible. I do not think that will ever disappear. He still has a slight feeling of bruising in the ribs.
I read very carefully the second factor about the radiation you had to the chest wall as part of your breast cancer treatment. You said that he had said there was a higher risk but unless I am not reading it correctly, I cannot see that he says what the higher risk is. He just seems to say there a higher risk because of scarring.
Thinking about the radiation that we go through as part of our treatment, are we all to understand that we have invisible scarring inside that area where we had the radiation? What does this mean for you and all of us breast cancer patients? I do not think we are told about scarring, but I do remember my oncologist told me, when I was actually having the radiation, that there was a possibility of inflammation of the lungs.
I can understand that there could be a complication because your breast cancer was on the left close to the heart.
I can understand that you need to weigh up the pros and cons of all this. It is a bit like we had to weigh up things with our cancer treatment.
If that were me, I think that I would have a difficult time trying to make a decision.
I would think about the positive factors that you have, namely that your heart is in good condition according to the angiogram results and that you seem healthy enough. I do agree with you that it is puzzling that he can say you seem healthy enough without seeing you. Doctors can tell so much about your health by just looking at you.
I noticed that you said that, when you told him about the noises in your chest/lungs, he did not seem worried about that and said it was possibly some fluid. I would be thinking and probably saying that surely it is not normal to have fluid on your chest and lungs. Is that not one of the reasons that you have been told you need valve replacement surgery? As I have said before, my mother (and Raymond's mother) had valvular heart disease and one of the problems was fluid accumulation on the chest and lungs. I remember my mother having occasions when she had to be admitted to hospital to have the fluid removed and was put on a respirator. Valve replacement was not offered then but I know that my mother was on warfarin (a blood thinner), furosemide (a diuretic) and digoxin (a heart pill). Both mothers were on these for many, many years.
If you feel you do not want this major surgery, perhaps you could ask whether medication is possible. I know that, like me, you do not like medication, but sometimes we have no choice.
I think you are right to consider you age and I would do the same. You are healthy, super active and take great care of your body, so I can understand how depressing you find this all. I felt exactly the same when I was diagnosed with breast cancer and an over active parathyroid. I felt that I had done everything right and yet I had this horrible thing hanging over me.
I went through the same thing this year with Raymond. I felt angry, disappointed and guilty. I had looked after him for 44 years of our marriage and look what the result was. Raymond had never been ill, either, except for glandular fever a long time ago. I researched this surgery and thought Raymond at his age should not go through it. I wondered whether he would survive it and what his quality of life would be after it. Raymond was determined to have it and he said he did it for me. We have both watched this real life surgery in action in a hospital department on the television.
My friend who works for a cardiac surgeon tells me that these major surgeries, arteries or valves, are done routinely and in high numbers on a daily basis.
Raymond thought he had no option, because stents had been ruled out, and he was convinced he would die without the surgery. He seems to be going along alright now and so does the friend he made, who had both bypass and valve replacement at the same time.
If I were faced with these same problems, arteries/valves, I do not know how I would decide. Since Raymond did it in order not to leave me alone, could I pluck up the courage to face all this in order not to leave him alone?
This is something you need to discuss with your husband and children.
This is what Raymond says to you. You are a woman, and a healthy one, and women live longer than men, and you have age on your side. You are ten years younger than Raymond. He thinks you will be alright with the surgery.
He also, to help boost your spirits, wants to remind you that his medical team told him the surgery would give him several decades of life! This made us chuckle but Raymond does not at all look his age!!
Keep with us adagio. We can all understand how your mind is absorbed with heart stuff and dealing with the anxiety of the unknown. Just remember what we all say to the newly diagnosed when they come on the thread. Waiting is the worst but we feel better as soon as we start treatment and we say to all, you can get through this. We did it and you can do it.
Sending you love, best wishes and great support.
Let your food be your medicine and your medicine be your food - Hippocrates B.C. 390 Preadjuvant chemo 3 months epirubicin, cyclophosphamide, 3 months docetaxel. Mastectomy RB Sentinel node pos Radiotherapy 3 weeks + boosters
6/20/2005, IDC, 6cm+, Grade 3, 1/7 nodes, ER-/PR-, HER2-
10/31/2005 Cytoxan (cyclophosphamide), Ellence (epirubicin), Taxotere (docetaxel)
5/16/2006 Lymph node removal: Right; Mastectomy: Right