The surgeon called around 4:30 p.m. today with the pathology report. The good news: the lymph nodes are clear and the 7 mm invasive tumor was removed with clear margins. The not-so-good news: the DCIS was extensive—6.5 cm, much larger than the 3.5 cm detected in mammograms and MRIs, and well beyond the maximum size recommended for a lumpectomy. Plus, margins on one edge were not clear, so I need to go back in for a second surgery to have more tissue removed.
The surgeon removed a total of 9.3 cm of tissue from my breast. That’s an awful lot. How much tissue does a breast hold? I don’t know, but I’m imagining at least one third of my breast is gone. So while it looks fine now, it will not look so fine when the fluid drains, the inflammation subsides and the tissue settles. Plus, the invasive tumor was immediately behind the nipple which the surgeon managed to spare, but she says it will likely be inverted when all is said and done.
Bummer. It’s not going to be pretty.
Still, I’m glad I won’t need a mastectomy, not at this point anyway.
Some day I will write about vanity, my attachment to shape and form, my attachment to this body and to this particular part of my body. Yet this body changes as all bodies do. It has always changed—from its beginning as a single cell to its evolution into this sophisticated and intricately functioning organism I call “me.” It will continue to change until one day it dissolves into the earth.
It occurred to me several weeks ago that these are but tissues and cells we wrangle over. We may influence their wellbeing based on our personal habits, but ultimately, we don’t have a lot of say. The body will do what the body will do. We are here for the ride.
I feel sad about the not-so-good news but arguing with it is futile. And it could be much worse. Just moments before the call from my surgeon this afternoon, I learned of a hometown friend who died yesterday in a fatal car crash at the age of 59. Her life is gone and her family is devastated. May we be grateful for all that we have.