Decision #2 has evolved since I first began to write this but I am going to include the history here, which will explain part of the solution to decision #1.
After my mastectomy, my tumors were tested for the genetic probability of cancer recurrence. Mine came back in the medium range, but in the highest part of medium - just a hair away from high probability. Because of this my oncologist recommended two forms of treatment - one was a 3 course plan of oral chemo, and the other was a 5 year treatment of medication to kill all the estrogen in my body (since mine was an estrogen triggered cancer)
By the end of the first course of chemo I was so violently ill that I decided not to continue with it. And my doctor was okay with that decision. When I had my original surgery all my nodes were clear and the assumption made that I had caught the cancer before it spread. The chemo, he said, was just another strategy to try to decrease the chances of recurrence - which is what all cancer treatment is - a crap shoot.
I have been on the estrogen killers for almost two years now. When I first started them I had unbelievable hot flashes and night sweats, but within a few months they settled down to a manageable level. However, joint pain began steadily increasing. And when I had my last bone density scan, I learned that I have lost almost 15% of the density in my spine in just over one year. This freaked me out. Today my joints ache so much I have difficulty getting out of bed. Once I start moving, it does get better, but there are times when the pain has brought me to tears. I do not like living like this. (and yes, I am well aware that I am whining)
And so decision #2, was whether or not to continue with these meds. For me it was a choice between lowering the possibility of cancer recurrence and being able to live a physically active life and enjoy right now. Martha, of course, is all for anything I can do to prevent further cancer. It is why she is against the reconstruction (she thinks it will trigger or mask new cancers) and all for any meds that make my chances better, no matter how sick they make me. She has been deeply impacted by cancer, so I get that. Both my family doctor and my oncologist that I should stay on the meds, but they are not feeling what I am feeling. And I wasn’t expecting the blogosphere to answer this question for me either - but writing out the decision process seems to help clarify it.
Now the update - after coming back from a tropical vacation and looking at pictures of me topless and in bathing suits, etc. I have (sort of) decided to do the reconstruction. I think much of this decision has to do with my general theme of wanting to feel whole again. Mostly, that is an emotional wholeness, but it is hard to feel whole when there are body parts so obviously missing. I am still wavering on this one but I have a surgery date set on January 30th, so I have up till then to change my mind. In exchange for Martha’s blessing on reconstruction, I have committed to stay on the estrogen killers. . . at least until my next bone density scan. I will deal with my joints feeling like I’m 90 and try to fight the lethargy and slight depression that the pain has created. But we have both agreed that if I continue to lose bone mass at such an alarming rate, the cure might be worse than the disease.
So that’s where I am on at. The next decision will be more fun . . . retirement !?!?!?