This story begins on June 30, 2013 when I discovered a lump in my left breast. That day has changed my life forever – some ways good, some ways not so good. If you would like to read the journey about my battle with breast cancer from the beginning, click here.
If you only want to read the post right before this one, click here.
Surviving to Find a Surgeon
As I continue to educate myself about cancer, how to treat it, and ways to make my environment and my body healthier so that I can fight the cancer naturally, Sometimes I come across interesting bits of information.
Let me share one of those tidbits with you now. New research is showing that getting a cancer diagnosis may be as deadly as the cancer itself. This research has shown that suicide and heart-related deaths increase significantly in the week following the cancer diagnosis.
In a study that was published in the New England Journal of Medicine, researchers looked at the psychological toll of a cancer diagnosis and how it impacts the risk for death. After looking at the data of more than 500,000 people who were diagnosed with cancer between 1991-2006, they discovered that the risk of suicide was 16 times higher and the risk of a heart-related death was 27 times higher during the first week following a cancer diagnosis over that of the normal cancer-free population.
I survived to fight this thing. Unfortunately many do not.
Finding a Surgeon
On Friday, August 2nd, 2013, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. Knowing that I did not have insurance, the diagnosing doctor recommended a surgeon that she knew worked with people in my situation. I called to schedule an appointment and met with the doctor the following Monday.
After looking at the biopsy report, the doctor shared the options that were available to me. I essentially had three. The first was to do a lumpectomy which would be followed by radiation. The second was to remove the left breast. The third was to remove both breasts.
I knew immediately that I was not willing to do the first option because I was not willing to submit my body to the effects of radiation. It did not make sense to use a treatment for cancer that itself was known to cause cancer. I had also read too many things about how the treatment can damage adjoining tissue and organs.
That left a choice between option 2 or 3. I chose option 3, the removal of both breasts called a bi-lateral mastectomy, because I knew that I did not have the finances available for reconstructive surgery; and they (the breasts) might as well match. I also felt that by taking them both, I reduced my risk of developing breast cancer again. I have since learned that that assumption was incorrect. I have discovered that breast cancer can come back anywhere; and I have even talked to someone who developed breast cancer on their back!
So I scheduled the surgery for nine days later. I got the information to contact the lab doing the pathology, the medical group doing the anesthesia, and day surgery where they surgery was to be done.
You heard me right – day surgery! Although a double mastectomy is generally done in the hospital, with an overnight stay to help deal with the pain issues, I was having the surgery done at a day surgery facility to save money – a substantial amount of money.
I contacted all of groups involved with the surgery and got quotes so I would have an idea how much money I was going to need to cover the surgery and to make arrangements for payment plans. I made sure to let them know that I did not have insurance and was a cash pay patient. The doctor and the pathology gave me a 50% discount because of this.
So the surgery was set and I was ready to go. All I had to do was to come up with the required funds for each of the parties requiring some prepayment. No small task …. Everything was set, or so I thought!
Image attribution: surgeon