I’ve entered a strange new labyrinth. One I knew existed, and yet I didn’t give it much thought. Many have entered the labyrinth before, myriads of websites are devoted to its exploration, entire hospitals are established for its eradication.
According to the Canadian Cancer society less than .6% of Canadians will be diagnosed with cancer this year yet 2 out of 5 persons will be diagnosed with it over a lifetime. It is the leading cause of death in Canada at thirty percent of all deaths. Sixty percent of those diagnosed will live more than five years - eighty-seven percent if its breast cancer.
The statistics don’t bring much comfort when you’re faced with it. At each stage through the process, I was told just a very small number will go on to the next level of treatment. After my biopsy in January, I was told less than three percent would go on to surgery. I don’t feel particularly lucky knowing I am one of the chosen few.
My breast cancer was caught early. About as early as you can catch it. It’s called DCIS and doesn’t form a lump but involves one tiny cluster (for me) of micro calcifications. The odds of survival are great as it’s contained and most likely won’t return. I meet with a surgeon shortly to discuss the details of my operation and I do have some questions:
· How do you get to the back of a breast from the front?
· If the clip they inserted during the biopsy has moved 1.5 centimeters how do they find the original sight of the lesion?
· Will I experience pain down my arm like I did after the biopsy? Will it go away?
· How long will the incision be? How much will he take out?
· Does he have a steady hand? Is he good at sewing?
· Will I still be able to wear my string bikini? Ha.
My thoughts and prayers are with all of you (the diagnosed, the family, and the friends) who have travelled the cancer journey and its many pitfalls. May we soon see a cure for this dreaded disease!
Update - My own doctor said to consider the lesion DCIS but the surgeon I met with today said the biopsy was too small and carried some of the markers but not all of the markers of DCIS. Surgery in the coming weeks will either confirm DCIS or it may all have been removed in the original biopsy and in that case we will never know.