Recent diagnosis...confused about staging

I was diagnosed with Grade 2 invasive ducal carcinoma 4 weeks ago.  I have met with my surgical oncologist and will meet with a plastic surgeon on Monday.  The plan is to do a unilateral mastectomy with immediate reconstruction.  We are hoping for a skin sparing mastectomy and straight to implant (I am a DD cup so I think there is room to keep the skin?). What I find the hardest is A) the wait is EXCRUCIATING!  I am not scheduled for surgery until January 8th.  That will be a full two months since diagnosis.  I am guessing there are ladies with more invasive cancer and, of course, they should get treatment priority.  My tumor is 1.8cm, however, according to the oncologist, my MRI is troubling because it’s hard to tell what is cancer and what isn’t since that breast has very dense tissue.  Her aftercare notes indicated that she feels the “disease” is more extensive than what was reported (it’s a hot mess in there when looking at the MRI).  For me, the hardest thing is I would like to know what stage my cancer is?  I’m guessing I will only know that once I have surgery?  I also would like to know the likelihood of needing chemo as that, for me, will be the biggest blow.  I am 49 years old with a 10 and 22 year old.  My 10 year old is terrified of course and I find that, while I don’t think about cancer all the time, it is never far from my thoughts and it leads me to be utterly exhausted, sleepless, anxious and full of body aches.  Stress is really something


First of all, I’m so sorry you find yourself here - but it is a much safer place for information than Dr Google, which I’m guessing is very tempting. It really doesn’t help with anxiety and protecting your emotional health is paramount right now.

I have to agree with you that the delay in surgery sounds agonising because, until they do the histology, they don’t have the details to determine future treatment. That means continued uncertainty for you. I wonder if it’s because you’ve opted for reconstruction?

I wonder why you need to know the stage of your cancer. I was treated at a regional centre of excellence and they don’t work with stages, only grades. Perhaps stages are too emotive? I don’t know the reason and haven’t asked but I assume they represent ‘best practice’ so perhaps your hospital has the same policy? You should ask. If you are one of those people who want to understand the whole process, it is your right to be given answers. Personally, I confess I opted for the ostrich approach. I knew I couldn’t change a thing, knew explanations would set off anxiety responses, so I just handed myself over to their ministrations. It sounds passive; it wasn’t - it was wise for me. But everyone is different. Ask your questions.

I’m sorry I don’t have the answers. It might be useful for you to ring one of the nurses at the number above. They are very informative and reassuring. In the meantime, if you have time with a 10yo to care for, Breast Cancer Haven are offering a range of free online sessions, some of which might help you with the insomnia, exhaustion and so on. I don’t know if your comment about chemo is driven by concerns for your family life or fear of chemo but I promise you, we have all experienced the same fears and have all established the same truth: that it’s all manageable/doable. Not pleasant, sometimes very difficult, but we do come out the other side despite all our anxieties. This is why I’ve suggested you invest some time in your emotional wellbeing in preparation for what’s to come. There are several apps and loads of YouTube videos that can help you reduce your stress levels. The earlier you start, the more effective the strategies are when you really need them.

I wish you all the best for your surgery. There will be a lot of waiting, although you should get the histology findings in about 7 days. Then more waiting for a treatment plan, for treatments appointments, for actual treatments… you get inured to it, I’m afraid. Meantime, take good care of yourself,

Jan x

PS. I’m pretty certain a recent thread mentioned a recommended book which prepares children for what their mums are going through. It might be worth asking in a separate thread (if that interests you) if no one mentions it here.