Sunday, June 22, 2014

A hysterectomy at 38

It's a beautiful Sunday afternoon.  It is also the eve of what will be my 5th surgery in 11 months.  I have to be honest, I'm tired.  I was looking forward to a fairly uneventful summer to just spend time with my little family and have fun (which we have been doing for 3 weeks and I'm so grateful I've felt good).  The only surgery that was on my radar was my permanent implant surgery when I am ready.  Then, a few weeks ago I went to see my gynecologist about some issues I have been having since my period returned in April following chemo.  Painful, debilitating, heavy periods.  Yuck.  So, after speaking with my gynecologist, he suggested possibly doing an ablation but then said "if you are going to move forward with a hysterectomy, you should just do that, rather than having both procedures done".

A hysterectomy is something I've been considering since finding out I had cancer.  My tumor was Estrogen positive which basically means the more estrogen that's in my body, the higher likelihood I could develop cancer somewhere else (mainly female organs...ovaries, uterus, etc.)  I talked to several doctors (my oncologist, my breast surgeon, my gynecologist) about my risk factors, genetic history, etc. and got differing opinions.  It was frustrating.  I finally was referred to a gynecological oncologist who I saw 2 weeks ago.  Within 2 minutes of talking with me about my family history, the type of tumor I had, etc. he said "this is absolutely something you need to do".  Finally.  Someone wasn't wishy-washy or sugar coating anything.  He said that due to my young age (I know 38 isn't that young but when you're talking lifespan, it is), family history and tumor type, he would highly recommend getting a full hysterectomy (meaning everything comes out).  It's something that I was fairly certain I was going to do, so I wasn't in shock.  I wasn't expecting to do it this quickly but in order to be recovered by the time Shaun and I take our 15 year anniversary trip, I have to either do it now, or wait until August.  August brings back to school and a lot of other activities and when I have my last Herceptin on September 5th, I want to be done!  So, now it is.

The doctor thinks that I should do no activity for about 4-5 days and the total recovery is 6 weeks.  I should be able to drive and do somewhat normal activities after the first week.  He said it would be "a cake walk compared to your mastectomy."  He also said I would feel "like I got kicked in the gut by a horse for a few days".  Well, doesn't that sound fun?

The concern with me getting a hysterectomy is that I am not able do the hormone replacement therapy.  So, I will probably have some unwanted side effects.  They are side effects that I am actually already experiencing because of the drug Tamoxifen that I'm taking (and will take for 5 years).  The Dr. told me that there is a new drug that combats hot flashes that seems to work really well so, there's that.  Being in menopause at 38 is never something I imagined would happen to me.  But hey, I'll look on the bright side.  No more periods.  Yay!

I'm a bit nervous today.  You'd think I'd be a pro by now since I've had so many surgeries recently.  It's always unsettling.  What will I feel like when I wake up, how long will my recovery be, what will the side effects of this surgery be, etc.  These are the questions that repeat over and over in my head and keep me awake at night.

I look at this as just another part of my journey.  I'm doing what I need to do. Preventative measures that will hopefully keep me cancer free for the duration of my life.  And hey, I get to wear white whenever I want!