After a very stressful week of my basement flooding, no hot water or heat and an approaching party for my daughter christening approaching, I had to end it with the anxiety provoking BRCA screening! My six months are up, and I find myself driving in to Boston not for a nice Italian meal in the north end, but for blood work, IV's, poking and prodding.
The process of preventative screening for me at least, is not something that I think about the day it comes. It is something that gradually intensifies within me. I know the days are approaching and that the tests need to be done. I spend time thinking about it and planning. I never realize how much it does affect me until I wake up the morning of and I just feel this heaviness inside me. All day at work, I found myself looking for big deep cleansing breathes. I felt hot and sweaty, I felt rushed and a sense of urgency within me, as if my adrenaline was slowly leaking out all day. Let me tell you, exhausting!
I of course was late for my vaginal ultra sound, that could have been because it is not exactly a pleasant exam to have. Actually, that is the least of the test that I dislike. I then waiting 1 hour and 15min for my GYN/Onc appt. Nothing like reading people magazine and the flyers that coat the walls of the exam room in nothing but a hospital gown. I then had to rush to my breast MRI. Now the MRI is something that causes such anxiety for me. I am not afraid of it, I can take the IV, the contrast dye, but it takes everything I have to relax myslef and stay still for 45 minutes in a loud, banging, tubular machine. I spend the entire time focusing on my breathing, my position, and my thoughts. I tell myself to think happy thoughts, literally! And then the dye goes in, and that is just a strange feeling that makes me wonder what exactly is all this doing to my body? I'm now having a dye injected through my veins for help indentify breast cancer, but what is this affecting! So frustrating.
Once the testing is completed, I just need a moment of time to breathe and be "with me". Sort things out in my head, and arrange all the thoughts that have just been running through my head. I of course drove myself for a satisfying ice cream treat. I deserved it! There really is nothing like eating ice cream by yourself, gotta love it!
So this is our choice! We can every 6 month have screening done when you are BRCA +. vaginal US, CA 125 blood work, pelvic exam, breast MRI alternating with mamogram and breast exams. Or, we can have a radical prophylactic mastectomy and oophyrectomy. I have yet to have the surgeries, but know the pressure and stress that is brought on by frequent screening for me and hope that by undergoing these surgeries that I would rather not have to chose from bring me some peace.
With the security of knowing my risk of cancer decreases drastically I can not help but worry about what happens when it is all over. Just because I have the surgery does not mean I am no long BRCA +. It is still there, it is still part of me. What are the issues that I will have down the road, emotionally, mentally, physically, sexually, and socially. I know when I make a decision, it is because I know it is the right one. What will happen when someone disagrees with my choice, will I take it personally? Will I be insecure in my own body? Will I feel physically attractive? So many questions, that I know will only be answered as I experience them. I suppose that is life, right!
Well now I need to put this crazy day in my pocket and get ready for my daughters christening. Life goes on...
Thanks for listening!