Sounds a bit medieval, right?
When I showed up for my pre-surgical appointment, I was told for the first time that a radiologist would be inserted wires in my breast tissue to guide the surgeon in ensuring that she cut precisely and removed both tumors and then weird space in between that looked like it was organizing. A bit too late for me to suggest any other options and I was so overwhelmed at the time that I’m not sure I could have asked anything with any logical thought.
So after the second mammogram of my life (the first was in the midst of the diagnosis), after injecting some lidocaine, the radiologist inserted three different wires (or maybe 4) to mark the tumor and its surroundings so that it could all be removed. Since it was done under ultrasound guidance, I found myself lying on my back, surrounded by three women all staring intently either at my exposed breast or the ultrasound screen as the minutes ticked down to when I was supposed to be in the operating room.
Let me just stop a moment and talk about the uncomfortableness of having ones private areas exposed for all to see and how little is done to protect one’s modesty during a medical experience. I’d thought that modesty was a thing of the past for my chest since I’d gone through two pregnancies and had been breastfeeding for four years, but suddenly, my breasts weren’t being used for their function, they were suspect. All those eyes and the markers, it was overwhelming at times.
Anyway, back to the wires. The radiologist was a perfectionist, as I suppose all radiologists should be, and she wasn’t happy with her work and repeated the placement or wiggled the wires for long enough that my surgery had to be pushed back a bit. The lidocaine had definitely worn off before they put me into an ambulance to be transported across the street to the hospital for the surgery.
It sounds a little barbaric now that I was moving around with multiple wires sticking out of my breast, but I am thankful for the skill of both surgeons and the clear margins from that surgery. I might have made different decisions about my surgery if I’d known I was Stage IV from the beginning, but I don’t beat myself up for making the best decision I could with the information I had at the time.
For all of you who are looking into or research surgical options, have a listen to my discussion with Dr. Fazila Seker about how technology companies can make patient lives easier by educating our doctors on the latest and greatest techniques and tools available. Then check out Molli Surgical and share the information with a friend, preferably a friend in the medical profession.