So, I decided to not wait to have my mastectomy. I don't like to wait to have things solved. It gives me too much time for my mind to overwork. I'm the kind of person that will go nuts with too much time to think about something and too much time to get a lot of information from books, people, television and the internet. I start to second guess myself and have horrible dreams about the outcome. I get all worked up about pain and money and all kinds of stuff. In this case, I made another appointment to see the doctor and schedule the surgery and just be done. Solutions are better to me that sitting on my butt waiting.
The second visit to the surgeon was easy. I told him what I'd opted for and he didn't have a problem with that. I went to the office with the assistant and scheduled the surgery for the following Monday. Now, all I had to do was stop by the office at work and let them know and start the paperwork for my leave. Easy Peasy. Or so I thought.
When I got to the office, I encountered the one thing that I hadn't thought of. FMLA guidelines. I had worked at my old job for 15 years. I hadn't thought about that FMLA stuff for at least a decade. Unfortunately, I had decided to switch careers less than a year before, and that meant that I didn't qualify for FMLA. Now, my place of work assured me that they would never fire me, but there were some inconveniences associated with me taking a non FMLA leave. I probably would not come back to my exact position. I wasn't happy about that at all, because I had taken the job because of my exact position. I didn't want to be moved.
The other thing that immediately became a problem was the fact the my health insurance wouldn't be at the rate that I paid as an employee. It would revert to COBRA pricing, which was more than three times what I was paying. Basically, it would be as though I quit and came back when I was released from doctor's care. At that point, they would give me an available position somewhere. In the meantime, I would have to pay a fortune for insurance and collect unemployment. None of that was for me. Most of that wasn't even possible.
At that point, I put everything on hold and went to talk to people that knew more about this stuff than me. I went to talk to the navigator at the hospital. I told her what was going on. She knew my case, so she was well versed in what I was about to do and what I needed to do. She told me to just talk to the doctor and see if it could safely be postponed. I only had to wait less than two months.
After that, I got a hold of the doctor and told him my issue. He said that the DCIS was completely contained and that I had time. He said that even if it started to breach the ducts, that I had plenty of time. He was not concerned at all about waiting a couple of months, and he actually felt that the security of FMLA and short term disability would give me peace of mind. He said that going through the mastectomy was more than enough to have on my mind at one time.
With that information, I told my family and my boss that I would continue to work and wait until I qualified for FMLA and short term disability. Some people thought that it was an unnecessary gamble, but since the doctor said that it would be all right; I decided to take the route with the peace of mind.
Now, I just had to get through the next two months of waiting around to have major surgery. I knew that the way my mind worked would make this the longest two months of my life. It would also put us into the next calendar year and cause me to have to meet the high deductible on my health insurance again just to have this done. More money. Fun.
Just a note to anyone going through this. I waited to do this surgery. It depends on the type of person you are as to whether or not you should pull a stunt like that. If your mind runs away with you, don't wait. Depending on what kind of cancer you have will help you decide whether or not to wait as well. If you find yourself in a position where you feel as though you should wait for any reason, talk to your doctor. Make sure that the experts are comfortable with waiting. If not, have the surgery immediately. Remember, most surgeons dealing with this kind of thing are going to be reluctant to out-rightly tell you what to do. You may have to ask for their opinions. Do it. Get the information you need to make the best decision.
Sometimes when we hear the word cancer we forget about everything else in our lives. The word alone strikes such horror that it's hard to look at the big picture. Women dealing with breast cancer tend to have many more things to consider than just cancer. I know it's not popular these days to mention it, but family, work, marriage, finances and even time of year can make a difference. I know that these days women are encouraged to let everyone and everything else be damned and do what they need to do, but we can't really do that. No one can. It's not just women who can't, but neither can the men. It's hard, but we have to remember that there are people in our lives that care about us. But they also depend on us. I do not advocate doing anything stupid in order to do for others. Just make sure that you consider everything in all of your decisions. Do what you have to do, but remember that you are not the only one in your life going through it. You are not alone not only means that you have people there to help out and take care of you. It also means that you have people who are effected by what is happening to you. Your husband will be just as scared of the word cancer as you are. Your children or parents may take it even worse.
So, if you encounter a problem like I did, start talking to people. Talk to everyone you can. Get all the information that you can. Decide what is best for you. If you have choices, make sure that you make the choices that are best for you and those you love. My family didn't care what I did as long as I got better. I had their 100% support. What I did and continue to do is tell them everything. Information is good. Don't leave your loved ones in the dark. It won't help anything.
When this situation happened to me, I was scared. Even when the surgeon had no concerns about waiting, I was scared. If I had to do it all over again, I don't know that I would make the same choice. The frightening thing was that I didn't realize how messed up my head was while I was waiting. I do now. It's a lot to think about for a long period of time. My problems started in September and would not be resolved at all until almost February. It's a long time to let the mind wander. Consider that in any decisions you have to make as well.
I will continue to tell this story for anyone who wishes to read it. I hope that helps someone.