One thing I haven’t shared yet (I know, you’re shocked because I’ve shared/overshared everything up until this point) is my consultation with the Radiation Oncologist. The way it was explained to me early on is that each doctor I see is one piece of my cancer team – my Cancer Squad, if you will and Being cancer free for life is my #squadgoal. The purpose of chemo is to help kill any cancer cells that have travelled from my breast to other parts of my body and lessen the chance of metastasizing. On the flip side, the purpose of radiation is to zap any possible leftover cancer cells that might have been left behind in what’s left of my breast after surgery. There aren’t any tests to be able to detect a single teeny tiny ahole cancer cell so the radiation zaps the area where the cancer was found to try to get any hidden little cells.
In early June I met with Dr. Cheung and he did the regular first time meeting stuff…asked me questions about finding the cancer and surgery, asked about my lifestyle and then told me to take off my shirt. 6 months ago I would have thought it was odd to show my chesticles to everyone with a stethoscope around their neck but it seems pretty normal these days. He said that based on my pathology results (all the details about my cancer – type, size of tumor, grade, stage, hormone receptiveness etc), he doesn’t have a recommendation for me. I am in a grey area and it is up to me as to whether or not I want to do radiation. Um…
Wait, What?? You don’t have a recommendation for me??? It’s MY choice? But I am not an oncologist. You went to school for 4 hundred years to tell me that it’s my choice? This is your specialty. Literally. My specialty is recreation – I could confidently make decisions about programming, community events, a supplies and materials budget and if we should use Percept on a certain surface. I feel slightly less confident being the one to make the choice of whether or not I should lay down under a giant ray of radiation and get the worlds strongest sunburn 5 days a week for 5 weeks.
So I guess I have a decision to make. There’s obviously pros and cons to both and side effects to consider (i.e. The radiation would touch the top of my left lung and my heart and could risk some damage to both or either organ). The thing I keep going back to is: if I choose not to do it and the cancer were to show back up in the same spot sometime down the road I would be so mad at myself for not doing everything in my power to prevent it. If I do radiation and it comes back, at least I’d know that I did all I could. But somehow all of that is not enough to have me pick up the phone and commit to the decision – thanks to those pesky side effects.
So if you need me, I’ll just be here sitting on this fence for a little while longer.
* Update – I have decided to do radiation and will start likely sometime in November or December