It had been nearly a month since my last visit with Dr. Makhoul and I was actually excited to see him when he breezed into the exam room with his new protégé. His jovial, yet soothing tone always worked wonders on those who might be wrestling with fear and uncertainty, like me. He wanted to know how I fared after my last chemo treatment and I told him that I did okay; however, I was thrilled to have the Taxol treatments behind me, because the drug was taking its toll on my weary body. He nodded his head in agreement.
And then he dropped a small bombshell.
“Depending on what the pathology report shows after your surgery next week, he said, "I may recommend another round of chemo." He further explained that my triple negative diagnosis had everything to do with his recommendation. Needless to say, I was having trouble processing what I had just heard but knew it was exactly what needed to happen. “We won’t make a definite decision until I review the post-surgery pathology reports,” he reminded me. Dr. Makhoul wished me good luck with my upcoming mastectomy and said he would see me on November 5 to discuss a future treatment plan...if necessary.
“I think your breasts are just too small for me to do the ‘Breast Over Pants’ as planned.”
I started laughing and told madam surgeon that she is the first woman to ever tell me that I had small breasts. “I meant it in a good way,” she said, trying to recover from her comment. “Have you lost weight since I first suggested the new procedure?” she inquired. In fact, I had, but I didn't think it was a game changer. She continued to discuss possible alternatives with Dr. Tummel for nearly 45 minutes. Finally, they had a plan. When I looked down at my apparently small breasts, all I could see were multiple black lines that resembled a web - and small, black dots where each nipple would be re-positioned.
“I’ll be right back,” she told me.
Within a minute, Dr. Klimberg returned with a frustrated expression on her face and informed me that I would be second on the surgery schedule, which would be approximately 11:00 a.m. “How long will the surgery take?” I asked. “About four hours,” she told me as she hugged me before leaving the exam room.
“I’ll see you before we put you to sleep,” she added. “Don’t mess with my artwork,” she told me, pointing to my marked up breasts. After she left the room, I looked at my watch. In less than 24 hours, I would be in surgery, receiving a life changing procedure. It’s merely the next step in my treatment plan, I reminded myself, as I put on my favorite bra for the last time.