Neither of us have been around here lately. Thanks for being polite enough not to mention how I haven’t given you too many reasons to stop by since the summer.
I’m going to assume you are also too polite to ask about the dearth of posts, not that you didn’t notice. You obviously adhere to protocols for a civilized society, which means you will also politely indulge my delusion of grandeur.
Pardon the expression but the last six months sucked. S.U.C.K.E.D.
Quick recap: Last time on SingleandtheSweetSideof40.com, my left boob, aka the center of the universe, was under assault by medical professionals and their protocols, which, take it from me, are far from civilized.
From the moment at the mammogram center when the nurse said, “Step into an office,” instead of, “You can go,” full sentences failed to hold my attention long enough to get from brain to blog.
From that same moment, every boson of my being was certain I did not have breast or any other cancer. The thing is, I let servers tell me what to eat and bartenders tell me what to drink. Of course I’m going to let doctors tell me how to stay alive.
My knowing that I did not have cancer was not sufficient proof to any of my doctors. Each one invoked protocol like she was Secretary of State and my left boob was a rogue nation. Admittedly, my reactions were less than diplomatic.
Because cancer/no cancer, an epic ordeal was about to ensue.
adjective | ep·ic | \ˈe-pik\
1: telling a story about a hero or about exciting events or adventures
2: very great or large and usually difficult or impressive
Not Epic like definition Number 1. No, the story of my left boob is definitely a Number 2.
The mammogram with something slightly suspicious in early July was followed by a stereotactic core (enormous-needle-in-the-boob) biopsy in August. The freshly scavenged cells turned out to be lobular carcinoma in situ (LCIS).
Which is not cancer.
I suspect doctors use the word carcinoma so women don’t protest the protocols once they learn that not finding cancer is not the end of the story. Nope. This epic only ends if the needle draws a blank.
Tell me that’s not rude. Even the Queen of Protocol Leticia Baldridge would take offense.
LCIS is not cancer, but cancer can occasionally be hiding in its shadow. Protocol called for a round of Hide and Go Surgically Seek, featuring sharp objects and significant bloodshed.
Specifically, a wire-guided, surgical excision of additional tissue to be pathologically analyzed, a procedure clearly the brainchild of Dr. Frankenstein. So gruesome is the sight of an eight-inch skewer protruding from her boob, a grown-ass adult could pass out. Just saying.
Fortunately, protocol for slicing open soft tissue includes anesthesia.
My parents and my sister were with me at the hospital the day of surgery. We had to be there at 6 AM. Naturally, nothing got started until 8. Waiting is not the hardest part of the ordeal but it sucks big time.
Fast forward to waking up, annoyed. My personal protocols had gotten my tongue in check so I didn’t complain or question. I went home bloodied but polite.
A deluge of calls and texts began almost immediately: what happened, did the results come in? Family and friends were worried. They urged me to contact the doctor. I was not worried. No news was, well, what I expected. Why be pushy? I waited a full week to hear…
This time, the surgeon found nothing but was that the end of the epic of my little left boob? Don’t be silly. Complications arose.
A hematoma doubled the size of my tiny Ta-Ta. Hematomas result when blood pools and forms a sack instead of being suctioned and forming only bruises. They are not uncommon in breast surgery, and they are not dangerous.
They do hurt, and they are hard, and months go by before your body completely re-absorbs the blood. Adding insult to literal injury, the extensive and horrifying bruises that formed anyway did not penetrate my fat rolls. My left side was left with white horizontal stripes.
Fashion mavens are right. Horizontal strips are not flattering.
The hematoma stayed with me from Labor Day through Thanksgiving. The protocols go on forever. Ok, for five years—which is like forever when you are seeing a surgeon and an oncologist regularly and you don’t even have cancer.
Less than two weeks post-surgery, as I suffered from contusions, eruptions and overall discomfort, a new study on mammogram frequency and efficacy was released. Turns out, I fall into one of the categories for which the researchers recommended against annual imaging.
Why would they reverse course? Because mammograms are imperfect tools. They detect most things, but most things are not cancer. Problem is, doctors can’t say which things are nothings and which are somethings. The net result is protocols for massive over-treatment.
My left boob throbbed in agreement.
There is only a 15% chance of cancer being present with LCIS, and LCIS does not evolve into cancer. Meaning, in a large majority of cases, no treatment is an adequate course of treatment.
That said, even with the new research findings, I am not sure I would rebel against my doctors’ recommendations.
Protocols have not changed, meaning the women’s health community is a malpractice-insurance-induced uproar over relaxing existing, approved and recommended courses of action.
This is the last of the three part series on my epic left boob but it is not the end; we move from the diagnostic phase to the prevention phase. SingleandtheSweetSideof40.com is soon moving into a new phase as well. Unlike lobular carcinoma in situ, the site is getting a less confusing name and a fun, fresh look. Please stay tuned, and stay polite.