Week 2 Post Mastectomy: Diagnosis & Necrosis

week 2 post mastectomy lead photo

The Diagnosis

Back in April I was diagnosed with a pre-cancer condition called Atypical Lobular Hyperplasia (see Russian Roulette or Mastectomy) and, because of a strong family history of breast cancer, decided to have a preventive bilateral mastectomy.

The decision was a difficult one, in part because I wondered how I would feel if the post-surgery pathology report came back showing no further instances of this pre-cancer condition. Would I feel as though I’d made the wrong decision? I mean, it is a pretty very extreme surgery and the pre-cancer I had might never turn into cancer.

In the end my two sisters who are survivors convinced me that, regardless of the outcome, I was making the right decision. By having a mastectomy, I would be eliminating my lifetime risk of getting breast cancer. No more six-month mammograms. No more breast MRI’s.

No more worrying.

And then last Monday my breast surgeon called me with the results of the pathology. I held my breath and awaited the verdict, determined that I would be fine with whatever the results were. “We found several more instances of the atypical lobular hyperplasia,” she said, “and extensive amount of ductal carcinoma in situ in both breasts. The good news is that because the cancer was contained inside the milk ducts (has not yet penetrated the breast tissue or lymph nodes), your surgery would be considered a total cure.”

Diagnosis and cure all at once. Cancer and the cure. I had breast cancer but now I’m cured.

I had breast cancer.

Surprisingly, that news threw me for a loop, and I’m still trying to process it. The scariest part?

Why wasn’t it seen on imaging?



Affected breast tissue
Affected breast tissue

Meanwhile, as I continue to absorb my diagnosis, I have a new complication to deal with. A visit to my reconstructive surgeon last week revealed a good-sized section of skin on my left breast that appears to be dying. Apparently this happens when the surgeon cuts too close to the skin and leaves it too thin to survive.

But for now it’s a wait-and-see game. This week I will apply an antibiotic ointment used on 3rd degree burn victims to the area and when my doctor returns from vacation next week, we’ll decide if another surgery is in order to remove the affected area.

There WILL be Unicorns

Unicorns Galore
Unicorns Galore

The good news is that I have received not one but two unicorns to help me heal, and since I already have two fluffy kittens, I think I’m all set. Now it’s time to just lie back, watch some Downtown Abbey and try to stay away from all the baked goods my sister left behind from her stay while my body continues to heal.

Thank you to all of you who have left encouraging messages over the past couple of weeks. I can’t begin to tell you how much they’ve meant.  I’m hoping in the next week or so I’ll feel up to responding to your comments once again.

Reposted from August 13, 2013.


19 comments on… “Week 2 Post Mastectomy: Diagnosis & Necrosis”

  1. Melissa Lewicki

    I am so happy you got your unicorns! I think the one on your head is the most amazing unicorn I have ever seen. Hope the healing continues at a great pace.

  2. You’re doing great, so hang in there. Do all the things you never have time for, watch Downtown Abbey and eat those brownies and chat with all your old friends! And thanks for liking my blog.
    “You can and you’re half way there.” Theodore Roosevelt

  3. It was good to see you last night my friend. Despite the risks, you definitely made the right decision. And I just know you’ll get through this newest development as well. You’re strong and healthy and you have a great support system.

    Just rest and take care of yourself.

    Patricia Rickrode
    w/a Jansen Schmidt

  4. Nancy J.

    That’s sure a lot to take in (re: your diagnosis). I think what’s really important is that you trusted your instincts. I think “we” (women in general) have really good instincts about things. It takes age, however, to learn to trust a feeling and act on it even if all the data isn’t crystal clear at the time. I hope your recovery includes more positive news than negative and the unicorns and kittens keep the happy vibes at the forefront!!

  5. Linda Harrel

    Hi Suzanne,
    I am so happy to hear that they were able to head off the cancer, and I know that you will continue to heal, and get stronger every day!
    Take care, and come back to us soon!

  6. Hang in there and let all your wonderful pets help you feel better. You’re so brave to be handling all of this so calmly. It was good to see you. I hope your next visit with the doctor brings only the best news.

  7. Marianne

    Hiya Suz! Looks like you’re in great company while Will’s at work. Take care and continue to get stronger each day.. love you little sister! xoxo ~Marianne

  8. I’m so glad you made this wise decision. We want you around for many decades to come. And you look adorable in your unicorn hat. If it makes you feel better about the dead tissue, I bumped into the bedframe at a hotel last December and it instantaneously killed a muscle in my thigh. Probably the only one I had. Good luck with your recovery!

  9. Phyllis

    Wow! I’m glad it’s all out of there.

    Sorry the healing’s not going perfectly, though. Sending lots of good thoughts and wishes for a quick recovery!

  10. I have happy tears for you, Suzanne. I just got home from Wisconsin and am going through the 1600 emails I found waiting for me. I had to stop on yours a read the news. How relieved you must be to know that your decision was the right one. I am so glad to hear you are cancer free and don’t have to worry about anything but healing. I am relieved right alongside you. Bless your heart. Hugs coming your way. 🙂

  11. Suzanne, I’m sending lot of prayers and hugs for quick healing. Thank you so much for sharing your post and pictures and brave decision. I’m celebrating right along with you that you’re cancer free. And love your unicorns! Cyndi Faria 😀

  12. Madeline Olson

    Heartfelt wishes and prayers for your continued recovery, Suzanne. We look forward to seeing you back at SVR when you’re feeling stronger. In the meantime, I’ll take notes! 🙂

  13. Thank God you had the surgery, Suzanne. I would have chosen to have it, too, and now it’s confirmed that you actually had cancer. Yes, a shocker, I’m sure. Thank God you’re now cured. So sorry to hear about the necrosis. I hope that heals up fast. Sending prayers and hugs! Peaceful dreams. 🙂

  14. We all seem to be saying Wow, but it’s the comment that fits. I knew those unicorns would show up. I still marvel at your attitude. Wow.

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