My DCIS was diagnosed via the testing of tissue removed during a breast reduction. Unbeknownst to me, tissues removed during surgery are apparently routinely screened for ‘cancer’, so much for ‘informed consent’. Well, 2 months after my breast reduction, my plastic surgeon’s office called to tell me that the surgeon wanted to see me the next day with regards to ‘something’ on my pathology report.
While I sat on the examining table, uncomfortable in my forward opening medical gown, my plastic surgeon, faced his computer, his back to me, and read my pathology report outload. I remember hearing the word ‘carcinoma’ and looking at my husband who sat in the support person chair 5 feet or so away from the examining table on which I sat, he mouthed the word ‘tumor’ to me. I don’t really remember anything else the doctor said after that, I just remember that he never even stopped or turned to look at me and just kept on reading.
I remember thinking to myself, “Oh my God, I’m going to throw up or pass out”. I slowly got down from the examination table and walked over to my husband sitting at the other end of the room and started to cry. Finally, the plastic surgeon turned to me got up and started to look for some Kleenex. He spent the next few minutes telling me that I did indeed have cancer, but that it was the BEST KIND of cancer anyone could have. He told me it could be 100% CURED and that all that I would have to do was to have a SIMPLE MASTECTOMY. “A simple mastectomy; how can lopping off one’s breast be simple?”
He explained that since my ‘cancer’ had been found after a breast reduction, there was no way for them to know whether they had gotten all or only part of the tumor and no way to check because they had no idea which parts of the tissue came from where in my breast and so no idea where to look for ‘remnants’ of the tumor. In less than 10 minutes I went from finding out I had cancer, to learning that I would lose my right breast. There was no option for a ‘lumpectomy’ because they did not know and apparently could not find out where the tumor had been or was in my breast. The plastic surgeon further explained that since I had had a reduction, there was no way to spare my nipple because the only blood supply to my nipple came from the breast tissue below it (the skin around the nipple had been totally cut away during the reduction) which would have to be completely removed in order to be sure that no cancerous cells were left behind.