Re: [MOL] mastectomy following lumpectomy - avoiding radiatioon [00166] Medicine On Line

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Re: [MOL] mastectomy following lumpectomy - avoiding radiatioon

Dear Friend, I am a breast cancer survivor of 4-1/2 years, who started
with a biopsy that then became a lumpectomy. I deeply hoped that this
along with radiation would be enough. Unfortunately, the tumor was
large, they could not get clean margins, and i had no choice but
mastectomy and chemo. I had no other options, but if I had, I DEFINITELY
would have gone with the breast-preserving lumpectomy. 

Having experienced both, there is a huge difference between the two. The
lumpectomy seemed pretty radical at the time, but for me, it was nothing
compared to all you go through losing a whole breast. I still feel like
I have a permanent ace bandage wrapped around my chest, and the "new"
breast is quite hard and immobile. I never would have guessed how much
more you go through with a mastectomy.

Reconstruction helps (and you will want to do this, I think, if you opt
for a mastectomy), but it is not the same at all -- still pretty crude,
in my opinion! And there are a number of steps to the procedure. Better
than nothing, but not a first choice. In addition, for the
reconstruction to "work," I had to have the other side augmented, also
not fun. And then if you want a nipple on the reconstructed breast, it's
more surgery (for me, the most painful of the bunch, and with
disappointing results. Bra shopping is a nightmare, because neither the
breasts nor the nipples match, though I had a great surgeon. Of course,
i still have the option of using my little prosthetic nipples! LOL)

You don't say exactly why you are thinking about having a mastectomy; do
you feel it might offer you more protection, or just to avoid radiation?
Because the research seems to show that both procedures have about equal
results these days, and radiation lasts 6 weeks -- a mastectomy is
forever. (Of course the implants are only guaranteed for ten years, then
there is the possibility of more surgery).

Would you have to have chemo if you opt for the radiation (if so, that's
a whole other issue!) What stage are you? What age range, if you don't
mind my asking? All this could impact your decision.

Anyhow, I hope this is helpful. It's a very personal decision, and you
will get nothing but support from the folks here, regardless of what you
choose. Many of us have made choices that others would have made
differently, and we respect that. But before you go the mastectomy
route, PLEASE, PLEASE do what you are doing -- research and talk to
people who have done it. I am alive, and I am greatful for that, but I
only had a mastectomy because I had to, and it is not an easy fix-all. 

Good luck, and please let me know if there is any other way I can be of
help. Your friend, Joicy wrote:
> I  had a lumpectomy 6 weeks ago.  Have not started radiation therapy because
> the biopsy scar is not yet totally healed.  Want to have mastectomy now with
> reconstruction.  I wonder if my insurance company will pay and, although this
> is what I want, if it is the right thing to do.  I really didn't have enough
> information prior to the lumpectomy to make this decision.  My lymph glands
> are clear.  I would appreciate hearing from others who  have been faced with
> this decision.  Also, please relate reference material.  Thanks.
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