I had my six-month MRI on Monday. It was time to get an update on the state of my DCIS and learn if the protocol I’ve been on since late March has begun to take hold. I had the MRI at the center where my chosen surgeon is (should I need surgery); my first MRI in January was done elsewhere.
The surgeon called first thing on Tuesday morning to let me know that the DCIS remains unchanged. However, she said a “mass-like irregular area” was detected adjacent to it that needs to be biopsied.
This was stunning news. After all I have been doing, how could this be so? Plus, the ultrasound I had in April revealed nothing. The mammogram I had in May deemed my condition stable.
Everything about me contracted. Fear and panic took hold. I am a meditator schooled in the practice of “being with” whatever arises, but this was one of the more wrenching moments in my life.
At 4 o’clock, my new naturopathic physician—who calls herself Dr. Dana and is a long-time friend—called to discuss the MRI results which she had just received (I’ll be getting them, too, but by snail mail). She was a voice of calm and reason in the midst of my maelstrom of distress. She said this second MRI was done with a machine that was twice as sensitive as the first one. The suspicious area could very well have been there all along, simply undetected. Don’t freak out, she said; the biopsy results will be definitive.
What a contrast between the messages and manner of my doctors. Once off the phone with Dana, I was able to calm down and settle into a more rational frame of mind.
Dana sent the MRI report to me electronically, and indeed, the difference in machines and technique was clearly pointed out. As I looked further, I also noticed that the size of the DCIS was considerably smaller than was reported in the January MRI results: 2 cm X 3.2 cm versus 3.4 cm X 3.8 cm originally. The report also says the irregular area is “within the most anterior part of the [DCIS] lesion,” not adjacent to it. Had I misinterpreted the surgeon’s statement as meaning it was something new and additional?
In any case, the news is sobering on the one hand, yet reassuring when compared to my original take from the surgeon. And while the smaller size could be attributed to a more sensitive machine, it could also be a result of the protocol I’ve been on for just over three months.
And yet, the irregular area must be dealt with. I will have a biopsy guided by ultrasound on Monday. If the suspicious area isn’t detected via ultrasound, a biopsy guided by MRI will be done on some to-be-scheduled date.
I don’t want to be stupid about this. My mind is getting accustomed to the idea of surgery. Meanwhile, Dana referred me to an integrative MD with considerable experience in treating cancer using alternative and complementary modalities, and says he can offer an expert opinion that considers all treatment options, not just the surgical one that conventional medicine has to offer.
I so wanted this story to be an upbeat one of restoring health and prevailing against the modern medicine machine. Who knows, it may still be. But my ultimate goal is to make a course correction and live a long, healthy life. I will do what it takes.
Meanwhile, I’m walking the path.