No regrets. When I left you a couple weeks ago, I was on my way to talk to Dr. Alpert. Her advice was that doing the surgery first would be no problem at all. She gave all of the reasons that I listed in my Decisions post and could even add more. She said that studies have shown that starting radiation up to 12 weeks after chemo make no difference in the long run.
Despite her medical evidence, I still ended up choosing to deal with cancer first.
The final decision, though made by me, was really made by Paul. On that bad poll, he had voted to do the surgery first. However, seeing me wavering so much, he said the next day, "I think you should do the radiation first. It's the only way you'll never have regrets." And that's so true. If I did the reconstruction first and the cancer ever comes back, I'd
blame the decision. Now the worst case is that I have some extra scars
or less perfect fake boobs. But if the cancer ever comes back, I'll know
I did everything I could right now.
So radiation will start tomorrow morning.
I'll tell you more about the experience of radiation in my next post, but I've been asked a few times since ending chemo on August 3 if I'm "in remission" or "cured" or whatever. The only answer I have is that the doctors believe they got all of the cancer out of me back on March 16 with the double mastectomy. So if we were lucky, I was "cured" then. But the question since then has been whether they really did get all of the cancer or if some of the cancer cells weren't attached to the tumor in my breast. That's why I've been doing all of this other stuff. Chemo, radiation, and hormone pills are just insurance policies in case of some stray cancer cells. So I think "cured" is a confidence thing. When I have been off the daily/weekly treatment roller coaster for long enough and I've had enough blood tests that come out normal, I'll start to feel like maybe they got everything. For now, I still have radiation so we'll keep on fighting the possible cancer cells.
(Though that sounded like a closing sentence, it actually opens up a whole new can of worms. For someone who has been diagnosed with cancer and has had a doctor-made plan to "fix it" since the initial mammogram, the last day of radiation will be a scary one. They'll say, "Congrats! We're done here. Go back to your pre-cancer life now." But I, as a patient, will have to actually do that, knowing that somehow cancer found me, it could come back, and the doctors aren't seeing me every week anymore. Something to look forward to, huh? I'm told they have counseling and support groups for people who have just been "cured" from cancer, and I now understand why.)