Thursday, October 2, 2008

Update #2,347,812

Been a while since an update so here goes:
I met my surgeon, Dr. Richard Davies. I liked him enormously from the moment I met him and my confidence in him grew more with each patient answer to every single question my mother and I could fire at him. He logically and honestly answered every question and waited until we had more. It seems as though he's genuinely concerned with breast cancer- research to help women, to cure them, to end this disease. He asked me to participate in a research study and I did so happily- after my appointment it was about an hour of further tests on my breast, mostly painless. If what I'm going through can help other women, I'm all for it. Karma bonus!

The nitty gritty:
Dr. Davies convinced me to have an MRI of both breasts. Because I'm so young, he doesn't want to take any chances that there's something we haven't yet detected. I'm terribly scared of the MRI because I'm claustrophobic, but also because a very large percentage of women who have MRIs end up with mastectomies. Because they detect so much, it's easy to get freaked out about whats going on in your breast. And they have a high percentage of false positives. He was very good about telling me not to freak out if I'm called back in for more ultrasounds/biopsies.

I asked Dr. Davies about the connection of food to breast cancer, and told him about my diet and exercise. He said there hasn't been a connection shown. We also talked about radiation- he told me about a 6 week course of radiation (not loving that) and about another one which is 1 week, twice a day, but that he didn't think I'd qualify for it based on breast size (thanks doc) and the fact that young women's breast tissue is so dense.

Fast forward- I pass Dr. Davies on my way to the research study and he's looking at my mammography films. He stopped me to compliment my diet and exercise. He said because of what I'm doing, my breast tissue is not dense- that's a really good thing- it makes it easier to see what's going on and it might allow me to have the 1 week radiation course. In fact, throughout the course of the several hours I was there, he complimented my diet and exercise three times in how it's made my body and tissue. That did not suck. AND he called me thin. Forget about what he said about this cancer being 97% curable, he called me thin. How could I not like him?

At one point in the appointmet, Dr. Davies, a proper, unanimated British man, mentioned that cure rate. I cut him off midsentence (very uncharacteristic of me as you probably know) and threw my hands up and said, "High five for being cured!!". He looked shocked at my infantile behavior, stopped what he was saying, smiled, and gave me two high fives. It was awesome.

I'm scheduled for the MRI next week. I've got my prescription for Valium all set up. I've stayed away from all anti-anxiety drugs through every needle and procedure, but I'm thinking I'll go ahead and take it easy for the MRI. Or I'll soldier through. It's been really important to me to stand on my own two feet through this- to dig to my deeper strength and that in turns gives me more strength.
Today I have to go get a surgical clearance from my primary doc- that should be nothing more than a physical and routine blood work.

Save the date:
Monday, October 13 is surgery. Thank you for the prayers. Thank you for the healing circle all the way from Portland! If it does nothing else, it makes me feel better to know I'm being sent love.
Dr. Davies thinks he'll be able to make a small incision and remove just a few centimeters of tissue. I'll go under at 2:15, but will start the pre-op stuff at 10. I'll go home that day.

One major thing that he said that stuck with me. He said that I didn't have to make any decisions immediately. He said by the time you can feel a lump in your breast, it's already been growing for 10 years. 10 YEARS! So feel yourself up a lot ladies and gentlemen (yes men, don't forget.) I could not have possibly felt my situation, the microcalcifications were like grains of salt. And if you're going for a mammogram, try to find a place with digital imaging, not film. I can tell you first hand, the difference is like night and day.

One more note about diet and exercise: Research has shown that a low-fat diet and exercise has the same effectiveness in preventing breast cancer as some drugs. I'm sticking with that choice for sure.

Some info in my surgeon:
In addition to working for NASA, here's some info about him:
Dr. Davies belongs to 20 national societies including: The Society of University Surgeons, The National Surgical Adjuvant Breast and Bowel Project (NSABP), The New York Surgical Society, The Association for Academic Surgery, The Society for Surgical Oncology, The American Physiological Society, The New York Academy of Science, and The American Association for the Advancement of Science.

He is listed in “Best Doctors in America,” Marquis’ “Who’s Who in America” and “Who’s Who Millennium Edition,” “International Who’s Who of Professionals 2000,” and the November, 1998 New Jersey Monthly issue entitled “Top Doctors in New Jersey” for surgical oncology.

In addition, he was named in "Who's Who in Science and Technology," the Lexington "Who's Who,” Strathmore’s “Who’s Who,” and Empire’s “Who’s Who.” Dr. Davies was also recognized in the “Best Doctors in the New York Metro Region” by Castle and Connolly in 2001 and “America’s Top Surgeons” by The Consumer’s Research Council the following year.

Dr. Davies was listed as one of The Best Breast Cancer Specialists by Redbook in 2001, and Ladies Home Journal in 2002, and one of the best 1,500 physicians in the New York region in New York magazine in 2002.

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