This entry was written by Jackie Roth, PhD student at Thomas Jefferson University. Every other Friday, throughout the entire year of 2011, Jackie will share a blog entry about her breast cancer experience. This year-long blog series is in honor of LBBC’s 20th anniversary.
To read Jackie’s previous entries, enter “ Jackie Roth” in the search box on this site.
Today I am three weeks out of surgery. I feel great. My drains have been removed and I currently have tissue expanders in. I am gaining most of my movement back in my arms, and I can already get dressed by myself – which might sound silly but I am very excited! I am still at home recovering, but I am venturing out, here and there, for a few hours. I must say that it feels great to get out of the house. I am being careful not to do too much too soon though!
So today, like most days lately, I headed out for yet another doctor’s appointment. I have so many follow up appointments. It feels like the beginning of treatment when you are getting everything situated! But instead of going to my familiar doctor’s offices just a few blocks away, I ventured to another hospital for a second opinion. All throughout treatment, I’ve been getting second opinions from different doctors around the area.
This time, I went for a second opinion about what to do next. I’ve completed my neo-adjuvant chemotherapy and double mastectomy surgery. But now what? Initially, at the time of my diagnosis, I was told that I would need radiation therapy. However, my tumor responded very well to the chemotherapy. It shrunk from 5 cm down to 1 cm, there was no cancer left in my lymph nodes, and the margins were all clear. I essentially went from stage III down to stage I! I really couldn’t have asked for a better pathology report!
So with such a great response to chemotherapy, some of my doctors called into question the need for radiation. Do I really need it? Do the benefits outweigh the risks? After some discussion, they decided to go forward with radiation treatment. But, for me, anytime there is some debate in treatment, I feel that it is always wise to get a second opinion. So I did just that! And, sure enough, my second opinion said to go ahead with radiation as well.
I trust my primary doctors. I just feel so much better when I know that other doctors are on the same page. I’ve been to at least three different institutions around the area and talked with doctors at numerous others offices about my treatment. You never know what other ideas and information is out there. We are so fortunate to have such amazing treatment facilities and options in our area that we should all take advantage of everything we can.
My one friend said to me the other day with regards to my treatment plans “You can never go back in time, and you can’t have a redo!” So when there are discrepancies in your treatment, or you just want some reassurance, it is a good idea to get a second, third, or fourth opinion!
Tell us about your experiences when you were in search of a second opinion. Why do you think it is important? Comment here or on our Facebook page.