Thursday, June 11, 2009

Second hand news

For some reason I don't quite understand, I am more upset than I should be hearing about the breast cancer diagnosis of a friend-of-a-friend. She is in her early 40s, she has 3 kids, she has the same type of cancer that I do, it appears to be early, but for some reason, she is about to have a bilateral mastectomy. For some reason, this is upsetting me. A lot.

What is going on?

I realize I don't have all the facts about her cancer. Maybe there is something I don't know that pushed her into this decision.

I do know that some women, when confronted with a breast cancer diagnosis, want to do everything they can to get the cancer out of their body, and never have to deal with it again. So having your breasts removed is one way of ensuring that you will never have breast cancer again (although it could recur in another part of your body...).

Some women want to do everything possible to make sure they are cured and it won't recur.

I guess I'm not one of those women. I wanted to do the minimum I needed. Not the maximum.

Maybe that's why I'm so upset. Maybe part of me wishes I had been braver, that I'd opted to do more. I'm second-guessing myself.

Compared to many women, I had it easy. I had surgery, I had radiation, and I'm going to have medication. But I didn't have chemo. I didn't have mastectomies and reconstruction. I escaped the worst (so far).

I guess part of me feels guilty. Less than. I know it's stupid. But it's how I feel.

Meanwhile, I hope I don't hear about any more women getting bilateral mastectomies. But I doubt my wish will come true.


RivkA with a capital A said...

Remember how you felt when people were pushing you towards a decision that was not right for you.

We all have to make the decisions that are right for us.

Respecting and supporting others, regardless of their decisions, is an important skill.

I will forever be grateful to a woman who is now a very close friend of mine thanks to the UNBELIEVABLE support she gave me during my first bout with cancer.

She had a double mastectomy (over her doctors' objections) and strongly believed someone with my background should do the same. At that time, I was not ready for even a single mastectomy, so I chose to have a lumpectomy.

She continued to support me in whatever way she could.

Her decision was right for her. In fact, it might have saved her life. The pathology from her double mastectomy revealed a second cancer, in the "non-cancerous" breast.

mother in israel said...

I'm wondering if she tested positive for the BRCA1 gene? My friend also just had surgery, but I don't know details. I'll probably send her over here too but I doubt she'll comment.