In 2015, I was diagnosed with DCIS (Ductal Carcinoma In Situ). This type of cancer is actually the earliest form of breast cancer, and is noninvasive. This means that it has not spread from the milk duct to invade other parts of the breast. I had a simple lumpectomy, which means removing the tissue with the encapsulated cells, and checking and/or removing lymph nodes.
At that time, I chose not to have radiation or take tamoxifan, the usual backup after such a procedure. My mother was beginning the process of dying from her own metastatic breast cancer, and that was my focus.
However, my mammogram this year showed DCIS in the same breast, and this time I am going to have both radiation and tamoxifan. This of course doesn’t rule out getting it again. Should this happen, my plan is just to remove the breast; maybe even both. But at my age, breasts are so unimportant as to be laughable. For example, these days when I lie down on my back, both my breasts try to slide right into my arm pits; how funny is that?
Plus think of the weight loss of losing two breasts: that’s got to be what, maybe five pounds apiece? I can only hope.
When my mother developed cancer again in her breast (ten years after she had cancer in the first breast and had it removed) and had surgery to remove it, she received no less than seventeen bouquets of flowers. She famously said while still in the hospital, “good grief; they’re only breasts! It’s not as if you walk on them or see out of them!”
Her nurses who were in the room with her nearly wet themselves laughing. They of course were used to comforting women who lost one or both breasts to cancer and mourned the loss. In fact, when Mom was well enough to get dressed, I was worried that she would feel terrible about being flat-chested.
But no—she put on a beautiful skirt and a black cashmere sweater, looked at herself in the mirror and exclaimed: “Wow—I look great! Those damned droopy things made me look old!”
I still laugh when I think of this. Therefore, I am gladly going under the knife and having the radiation and tamoxifan, hoping that this will be the end of it. For those of you who don’t know this about me, I have two tattoos; one is a tiny red heart on my right butt cheek, and the other one (which I had done this year) is a small crescent moon with three tiny stars in purple ink.
Just think of what I could have tattooed on my chest if I lose my breast! It would be a whole new canvas. However, I can’t decide what would be best:
- A portrait of David Tennant, my favorite Doctor Who
- The Cheshire Cat from Alice in Wonderland
- A great blue heron in flight
- “This space for rent” done in gothic script
I’ll keep you posted.