I had my BCT and sentinel node surgery January 16. Personally I wanted a mastectomy, but the surgeon kind of hesitated. I was told that the surgeon preferred BCT ( breast conservative treatment) because if the cancer comes back, I will have a better chance to be in an early stage. Without a breast there is not much space between your skin and the chest wall. But if you need a mastectomy that is your best option and I guess you will be followed closely by your doctors.
The day before…..
I had to take the MRI scan with contrast. I was really anxious about this procedure. Once upon a time during a MRI scan of caput I crawled out of the scanner and went home. This time I got some Oxazepam from my doctor to ease of my anxiety.
Maybe I could have manage without the Oksazepam? Because this scanner was not of the same type I have done before. The “tube” was in a way larger. And the best thing about this MRI scan was me laying flat on a table with my face down. I had no feeling of laying in a narrow «tube» constantly giving me panic attacks. In my head phones I was listening to the radio, which made me forget in a way where I was. There was a lot of fresh air, and I actually felt comfortable despite the circumstances, because this scan would decide whether I would need a chemotherapy or not before my surgery.
Luckily the radiologist could not see anything else but the tumor. The condition in the breast was nice and he could not see any metastasis (spread) of the cancer cells to my lymph nodes. So this scan made my day and I felt really relieved. Based upon the MRI scan it was decided that I should have the surgery BCT with sentinel node. This was the moment I have been waiting for. This heavy burden of my tumor would finally come to an end after a long period of waiting and worrying. It has ruined my Christmas, my 50th birthday and the New years eve. Unhappy new year with breast cancer
Technetium and scintigraphy
When the surgeon plan a BCT with sentinel node they install some technetium in your breast right under the mammilla the day before the surgery. It is a radioactive isotope in liquid form. After that I was to a scintigraphia to discover the radioactivity in the lymph nodes. They marked my skin with a marker pen, so that the surgeon could easily find them during the operation.
The surgery day
I was operated in an outpatient-surgery department early in the morning. At 13.30 the same day I was back home in my sofa. It took only 3 minutes before I was in T.I.V.A anesthesia ( total intravenous anesthesia) and that was great. No unnecessary chatting, straight to the point. The next thing I remember I was in the postoperative department, and my husband sat in a chair beside my bed. I was really happy he was there with me.
Before the surgeon starts the procedure he or she inject a blue liquid in the breast. This liquid got many names, but I know it as Patent blau. This blue liquid and the technetium are “attracted” to each other and the blue liquid will follow the technetium to the lymph nodes. To find these radioactive lymph nodes the surgeon use a Geiger counter. My surgeon extirpated 5 radioactive lymph nodes in addition to my tumor. I was really radioactive, and according to my surgeon that was a good sign for me. If the lymph nodes are packed with cancer cells there is no space for the blue liquid and technetium. But I still have to wait for the pathologists to exam them and the conclusion will be revealed February 4.
In the mean time I lean on the clinical exam, MRI – and ultrasound scan that could not find any enlarged lymph nodes or metastasis. The prognosis are good and that most of us will be healed even when we got metastasis to the lymph nodes.