As I had been informed by Dr. Okuku (The Diagnosis – Part 2) and the other doctors I spoke to in the weeks following my diagnosis, one thing was clear, I needed another operation to cut out whatever cancer had remained after the first surgery. The question now was, where should I get it done? I did alot of research on where I should get it done. I had the below to consider:
- There’s a thing called tumour to breast size ratio – If you have small breasts (like yours truly) and the tumour is significantly large, then the doctors normally advise that it would be best to have a clean cut (mastectomy) instead of attempting to save the breast and make a mess of it.
- Having a mastectomy is not a 100% guarantee. If you are unlucky, you can have one on one breast and it returns on another in the future. Or you can get rid of both of them and it turns up elsewhere. Having one though, does reduce the chances of re-occurrence because …you know…there’s nothing for it to materialize in again.
- The Genetic test. It’s a type of testing used to look for inherited gene mutations that might put a person at higher risk of getting certain kinds of cancer. The American Cancer support site explains it in the simplest way. If you are positive for this test then yes, it is advisable to have the double mastectomy even if the cancer has only appeared in one. If you do this test out of curiosity and it turns out positive then you should be careful with your health. PS: I haven’t done this test;1)It’s bloody expensive 2)I figure I should be careful regardless anyway.
- The surgery could be done using Frozen Section Procedure. It’s basically, the examination of tissue while surgery is taking place. This was probably the number 1 reason why I opted to have the second operation in Nairobi. Uganda’s hospitals do not offer this. If you are interested in not going the full mastectomy route, then the doctors have to keep cutting and testing to figure if they’re getting rid of everything.
Unlike the first surgery I’d had done, I now had something real to be concerned about so I was very careful about what my next step was. So, with the help of a Doctor friend of one of my sister’s, I made an appointment at the Agha Khan University hospital in Nairobi, Kenya to see a highly recommended surgeon.