Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Take my boobs, please

I had my first (and probably last, for now at least) appointment with a breast oncologist yesterday. Turns out unless I opt to take tamoxifen, a chemotherapy drug that will send me into fits of (early and temporary) menopausal symptoms and cut my risk of cancer in half but only if I can tolerate the drug everyday for FIVE YEARS, I won't be seeing her again. The breast surgeon, with whom I meet in two weeks, will be the one ordering MRIs and additional scans, still-life portraits, and needlepoint patterns of my breasts. The breast oncologist didn't tell me much I didn't already know, although she did comment, and the resident nodded in agreement, that my breasts are very dense, which is news to me, because I haven't ever had any other set of breasts growing on my body to compare them to (the medical reason for noting this, I suppose, is that dense breast tissue makes it difficult to find cancer in mammograms because cancer shows up as white on the films, as does dense breast tissue -- a fact that was confirmed when G picked up my films from the radiology department in advance of my appointments at the end of the month and we held them up to the light and my boobs appeared filled with spidery networks of whiteness, which I'm guessing isn't all cancer, or else I'd probably not be typing this right now). I asked her if I should reduce my soy intake given preliminary findings that suggest it might contribute to breast cancer (let me just pause to say how devastating this would be for my diet: as a vegan, I consume probably 1000% more soy than the average carnivore, and I would so very much miss soy in the many delicious forms it is conveniently packaged in -- Trader Joe's Soy Nuggets, I'm looking at you and salivating). She said there was no strong research to suggest a risk but said that the biggest risk reduction lifestyle choice I could make (if I decide to keep my breasts for a few years) would be to stop drinking alcohol. Now, as many of you may have seen, heard, or read about in police reports, I likey the sauce. And in a world where I'm required to be constantly vigilant for the onset of the big bad C, I'm going to need a few stiff ones to get me through the waiting. So, all of this is to say that hearing that recommendation made me even more sure of my decision to pursue surgery. I may be titless, but at least I'll be good and drunk. As a footnote, I followed doctor's orders last night with a glass of white wine with A (which turned into two and half glasses because bottles were half price, and, economically, it would have been disadvantageous not to take the fine folks at Feast up on the generous discount). Wine 1, boobs O.

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