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Cancer Treatment: What's Behind Door Number One

Upon meeting with my oncologist, I realized during our conversation about what was next for me, that he suddenly began to sound like a game show host.
PUBLISHED July 16, 2019
Bonnie Annis is a breast cancer survivor, diagnosed in 2014 with stage 2b invasive ductal carcinoma with metastasis to the lymph nodes. She is an avid photographer, freelance writer/blogger, wife, mother and grandmother.

In 2014, my life changed forever when I was diagnosed with breast cancer. Although I'd had several friends whose lives were touched by cancer, I never dreamed mine would be. I'd always taken good care of myself. I'd eaten right, exercised, gotten plenty of sleep and done everything within my power to maintain good health. I had no family history of breast cancer, but all of those things didn't matter. I still got cancer.

After the diagnosis, there were some tough decisions to make. Upon meeting with my oncologist, I realized during our conversation about what was next for me, that he suddenly began to sound like a game show host. As he talked, I pictured him waving his arms toward beautifully decorated doors and I could almost hear him speaking in a boomingly theatrical voice saying, "Would you like door number one or door number two? A lumpectomy or mastectomy?" Even though I wanted neither, I knew it was necessary to make a choice. Though neither door offered a spectacular prize, I was guaranteed to go home with a consolation prize.

Door one, the lumpectomy: Making this choice guaranteed I'd be able to keep my breast although the contour of it would be drastically changed by surgery. A lumpectomy would also require follow-up mammograms every three months along with the traditional treatment plan of chemotherapy, radiation and estrogen-blocking medication.

Door number two, the choice for mastectomy: This choice guaranteed I'd lose my breast. It would also ensure no more monthly mammograms would be needed on that side of my body again, but traditional treatment would be required. After the completion of the mastectomy, I'd also need to decide whether or not to have reconstruction. In the event I chose reconstruction, I'd need to decide whether to use my own body fat to make new breasts or if I'd use artificial means like silicone implants.

Decisions, decision, decisions.

I did the best I could to make intelligent choices based on the information presented to me. Looking back, I wish I'd taken more time to consider all options but in the moments of urgency, I made my choices and decided to live with them.

I've fought some tough battles along the way but now, I'm doing well. It's been almost five years since my initial diagnosis, and I am happy to report I am currently free of all evidence of cancer.

 

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