About this blog

I was diagnosed with breast cancer on June 11, 2010. As a result of my treatment, I have lymphedema in my left arm. I draw my strength from the Lord, as well as my family's Scots-Irish heritage. Our Graham's were a tough and scrappy bunch of fighters on the Scottish/English border. They came to America and continued to fight when necessary: in the American Revolution; the Civil War; and my brother is a Captain in the U.S. Army. My ancestors settled this country against all odds. My great-grandmothers on both sides of the family were pioneer women who settled the West. Along with that heritage, and the full armor of God, I am walking the walk and fighting the good fight.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Decision made

I just got off the phone with my surgeon and told her that I wanted a bilateral mastectomy with a sentinel node biopsy on the right side. A sentinel node biopsy will sample a couple lymph nodes on the right side to make sure that there is no cancer there. The chances that there is any cancer there is VERY slim, since they don't "think" there is cancer on the right side. All of the lymph nodes on the left will come out, since we know there is cancer there.

As I mentioned in my earlier post, there were a lot of factors to consider. I also surveyed as many breast cancer patients and survivors as I could. I did not hear of anyone who had a bilateral mastectomy and regretted it. However, I did hear stories of women who had less invasive surgery and later did regret it. Either because they felt "lopsided" or because the cancer came back on the other side. It required them to either live with the issue (at best), or have more surgery to go back and remove the breast.

For me, a big part of the decision is peace of mind. I am a warrior. I am going to stand up and fight this invasion with overwhelming force. I'm taking away its battleground. Taking the rug right out from underneath it. Game over. (I hope). I'm 40 years old. I have a lot of years ahead of me that it could come back in. I don't want to always worry that it would come back. I now have a 95% risk reduction of developing it on the right side. If it comes back, I'll fight it again. But I want to do everything I can today to fight the definitive fight.

It is going to be very strange to lose body parts. I'm not sure how I'm going to feel about losing my breasts. I don't really have a choice for the left side, there are just too many tumors in there. For the reasons mentioned above, I want to deal with both at the same time. Its just going to be very strange to be so flat after 25+ years. And just dealing with the realities of surgery. The incisions, the drains, the pain, the recovery. The down time. That is going to be hard for me to be incapacitated.

They do give you prosthetics that will slip into a camisole. I've seen some survivors refer to them as "foobs." They the shoulders and balance. After you have recovered from surgery, you can get more sophisticated "foobies." Some are even waterproof! Who knew?

I don't know right now if I will choose reconstruction are not. There are lots of options there-some that even give you the added bonus of a tummy tuck. I'm not a candidate for immediate reconstruction. Depending on the size of the tumor, I may need radiation after chemo. I'm glad that isn't a decision that I need to make right now anyway.

The next step is to schedule surgery. I should be able to do that tomorrow. My surgeon told me that my case has the highest priority. The timing is all in God's hands. Of course, now that the decision is made, I want it to happen as soon as possible. Get that cancer the heck out of my body. God will work it out so that all of the balls that are up in the air, (Eric's trip, my menstrual cycle-I don't want to be having my period while recovering from surgery, my soon to be arriving nieces/nephews, kids' birthdays, etc.) will come down in exactly the right place.


  1. You ARE a Warrior. I am so proud of you, Tonya. There are no words. You made the exact decision I would. I wouldn't hesitate for a second.

    Remember, you are not alone and if you need help in the hospital or with self-care afterwards, I'm your gal.

    I really am so proud of you.

  2. I know what a hard decision this was to make. You prayed about it, researched it, talked to many people with experience, and prayed about it some more. Praying for the timing of the surgery to be perfect for you, the medical team, and everyone else involved. Trips and parties are secondary to your treatment. Everyone will step up and do their part. We all love you so much and admire your faith and strength. Make that - - - the strength of your faith, too!! We are here to help in any way you need. Love you.

  3. What a hard decision -- you made in pink plaid warrior style -- full of grace and determination!

    Praying for that date to fall into place as you move forward.

    Thank you for sharing your journey and witnessing your faith!
    Love and belief~

  4. You are amazing. Praying for you every day!