Dena explains what women should know before having a breast biopsy or lumpectomy.
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The most important thing a woman must know before she goes in for any biopsy or lumpectomy is, first of all, if you are going to go do a lumpectomy you make sure that you are scheduled that week, not four weeks later, not five weeks later, that week, to remove your breast. If they tell you that it’s something horrible, because what’s going to happen is once they cut you open, you are giving it a chance, and this is what happened to me, to spread everywhere. So I am not saying that that’s such an easy thing to do or to think about or decide, but if you don’t do it, and you didn’t, you didn’t plan it out that way and that it takes 3, 4, 5 or 6 weeks to get in, it’s too late. It’s already spread into all the nodes which then makes it so you have to do chemotherapy. The other thing is always, always request if you are doing any kind of lumpectomy, that they do a frozen section. That is not standard of care to do a frozen section. Frozen section means while you are under, they stick it under a microscope and they do a preliminary section to make sure they got clean margin groupings. They make sure that they got it all. They don’t send you home and call you five weeks later and tell you, “Oops, we didn’t get it all,” because it’s too late then. It’s already given it a chance to spread. The thing about needle biopsies is that the body is a brilliant machine, so it naturally encapsulates your breast, especially in the breast, most areas, but the breast area specifically is what I know about and what I have seen. So my breast, a year later, was snowing inside with micro calcifications, but they said, “It looks like it’s all in-situ,” meaning it’s all encapsulated, okay? But they had said to me at that time, and I don’t know why I didn’t think of this, but you are not thinking because you are scared and you are nervous and you are a lemming. You are following whatever they tell you to do. They did not tell me at that point, “You know, doing a needle biopsy could possibly break open encapsulation.” So they said, “We want you to do a needle biopsy and make sure that it’s all in-situ,” and I was like, “Okay, okay,” because I am scared and I am thinking I have to go remove my breast. And so they have a poking party, and I have to go for Christmas break, and I can’t get into the doctor for two weeks after that, so it’s literally three and a half, four weeks later I go into remove my breast. It’s too late. They had broken open in the encapsulated area and at that point they tell me, “You have two small amounts of invasion.” Where were the two small amounts of invasion? Where they poked the needles. So it was very frustrating for me because you almost feel like you have been abused, like you have been absolutely abused by doctors because they don’t really tell you the whole thing. You don’t really get it, and so I was a sitting duck. So every night when I would tuck my son in at night, I would start to cry, thinking, how much longer do I have? As healthy as I am, as alkaline as I am, it’s very hard for cancer to grow in my environment. So it took six years. And six years later, sure enough, it was back in my lung and bones, all from that original removing of the pea-size tumor I had at the beginning and not doing the frozen section, and then spreading into the lymph and then poking needles in encapsulated areas, spreading it again. So if all of that could have been prevented, if all that could have been, if somebody had told me what I am telling other women, I wouldn’t be sitting here today, still on Herceptin, ten surgeries later, 34 rounds of chemo later. Thank God they came up with a targeted drug therapy Herceptin because otherwise I wouldn’t be here.