After the fog cleared from receiving my genetic testing results, I decided that I heightened surveillance was the best route for me. My doctors recommended a routine of biannual clinical breast exams, yearly mammograms, and yearly MRI. Ideally, I will stretch these out over the entire year so that I see the doctor or have a test about every 3 months. However, with between pregnancy and nursing I hadn't been able to stick to that schedule so well in the past few years.
I have an appointment tomorrow morning again. Mitch and I will drive down to Neenah to meet with Dr. Colette Salm-Schmid. It's a normal surveillance and so much more this time. When I called to schedule this one, I told Monica (yes, I am on first name basis with the receptionist), "My name is Renee Jadin-Rice and I'm calling to schedule my prophylactic bilateral mastectomy." She laughed and said saying it out loud is sometimes the hardest part.
I'm nervous right before every appointment. That’s when my anxiety is at it’s peak. Sometimes it’s just that morning when I’m getting ready or on the drive there. Other times it’s all week long. I worry that this could be my day. This could be the last time I walk in the doctor as a preventative measure. I think of how quickly would my life could change if cancer is discovered. On several occasions, I’ve had doctors touch my breasts for the first time and say “Oh…they are lumpy” so I do have justified reason for feeling concern. My appointment at the end of August was the first time that I made it all the way through without crying—big step!
But tomorrow is more. It's the first time that Mitch will be meeting Dr. Colette. I love this lady. Meeting her changed my outlook on so many things. I leave her office feeling spectacular about myself. I just hope he likes her as much as I do. We're going to be spending a lot of time with her over the next few months.
I went through quite a search to find a breast specialist that I liked. The worst one I tried wouldn't even see me and had her nurse meet with me instead. But the first time I met Dr. Colette it was so different. Just sitting in her waiting room that first time, I knew she was the one that I wanted to work with for this. My first clue was a puzzle on the coffee table. (I was once called puzzle-girl.) Second, there was a very elderly man waiting there doing the puzzle. His wife walked back into the waiting room to join him. Somebody accompanied her holding her elbow as she shuffled back to him. I could see her drains and it was obvious what she was there for. I overheard bits of the conversation as the staff member complimented him on talking great care of his wife, set them up with everything the need before the next appointment, and even had someone walk them out to their car because of those confusing hospital hallways. I tried not to stare too much, but when I realized that this was the doctor, not just a friendly nurse helping them out, I couldn't stop watching. She was so kind and caring to this couple that I knew right then and there that she'd be the one for me.
Our first appointment and all of the rest that followed have been just fantastic. She writes down everything she talks to you about on her pink pad of paper, draws diagrams and outlines, and then makes a copy of it so we both get to keep a copy of it. I will get my results for all tests from both my regular doctor and Dr. Colette. My regular doctor's office will call and say, "Your test results came back negative." Dr. Colete will call and tell me, "You MRI looked beautiful." It's a small difference in words, but huge difference in feelings.
She was the one who finally explained to me about my 3 options: lifestyle changes, chemo-preventative medicine, or risk reducing surgeries. For the last five years, I have made as many lifestyle changes as I can. I am finally ready to move onto the risk reducing surgeries. At tomorrow's appointment, we will set the date.