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.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Single or Double??

I have a decision to make.

I've decided that what I know about the left breast means that it must go. No lumpectomy for me. There is just too much going on tumor wise on the left side for me to feel like we would be getting all the cancer with a lumpectomy. I'll also lose all my lymph nodes on the left side.

My decision now is....do I have the right breast taken off as well as a protective measure?

Things that weigh against a bilateral (double) mastectomy:
  • The MRI did not show any irregular things going on in that side.
  • More difficult recovery from surgery on both sides.
  • Removal of healthy tissue...is that overkill? I've never been one for overuse of medical technology.
  • The oncologist said there was a 1 in 20 chance of developing cancer on the right side. He thinks those are good odds. (I'm not so sure).
  • With my history of breast cancer, I'll always be monitored very closely if I keep my right breast. Any cancer should be caught at a much earlier stage and not be as invasive as what I have now. (At least that is the theory).
Things that weigh in favor of a bilateral:
  • My surgeon told me there would be a 95% chance that the there would never be cancer on that side with no breast. Less of a chance of re-occurrence is a big thing. I don't want to fight this battle again in the future. Is peace of mind is worth losing a breast?
  • I wouldn't be "lopsided." Having one breast would mean I would have to always wear a prosthesis or look really lopsided.
  • With reconstruction, if I chose it in the future, would probably be easier to achieve symmetry.
  • I'm most likely done having children, so I don't need them for nursing babies. If chemo doesn't throw me into an early menopause, my oncologist suggested that may be something we force to decrease the chances of re-occurrence. My breasts have fulfilled their primary purpose, so to speak.
I've been soliciting the opinions of other women with breast cancer to see what factored into their decisions. Right now, the majority of women have chosen bilateral and do not regret it. A few had "clean" MRIs and the surgical pathology later showed funky cells on the "healthy" side. So MRI's aren't always the best indicator, apparently. There have been a few who chose one side and wish they had done both. There are also a few who are satisfied with their decision to just have one removed.

Like everyone has told me, it is a very personal decision. Right now, I think I'm leaning towards bilateral. That list of pros seems to outweigh the cons. I welcome other gentle opinions. In the end, its something that only I can decide. But if there is something that I haven't considered, I would love to know. I also need to pray about it more.

So...prayer requests:

  1. As this post shows, I need clarity and wisdom in my decision making on whether to have a single or bilateral mastectomy.
  2. That I could get a surgery date as soon as possible. The surgeon indicated it could take 2 weeks. I would love to have it earlier. It is freaky knowing that you've got cancerous tumors and cells dividing inside of your body. Or even possibly circulating through your blood stream. Jean-Marc's 2nd birthday is July 10th. I would like to be somewhat conscious of what is going on around me by then.
  3. That while I wait for surgery, the cancer does not spread.
  4. For my family. For strength for them to be able to handle what is ahead. Eric hasn't been sleeping well, and I think he is stressed out about picking up some of my slack with the kids and the house and keeping up on his work commitments. My parents also have a lot on their plates with Jared in Iraq, my sister and brother both expecting babies in the next week. The kids are also going to need to step up a bit around the house and pick up after themselves. I pray that they can do it without being hounded.
I should be able to get a surgery date tomorrow sometime. I'll post with an update then.
God bless you all!


  1. Lymph Nodes - Do you have to remove all of them on the Left? I hope not! This is another consideration in your bullets of pros and cons.

  2. Obviously, reducing the chances of occurance in your healthy breast is a top priority. They said there's a 1 in 20 chance that you would get cancer in your right breast should you choose to keep it. Then they also say that if you remove the right breast, there's a 95% chance that you will not get cancer on that side in the future. So, a 5% chance that you "could" get cancer in that side, even with removal. 5% = 1/20. The odds are the same with our without the breast.