Saturday, May 13, 2023

State of the Schafer: Back Under the Knife

This Wednesday I'll be having surgery again. Sadly, multiple surgeries aren't unusual for women diagnosed with pre-invasive breast cancer. Something like 25% of women having excision/lumpectomy surgery have to go back for a second time. Some ladies have to go back even more. Pre-invasive cancer is sneaky; it doesn't show up well on imagery, nor does the tissue look different to the naked eye. It takes a pathologist with a microscope to examine tissue at the cellular level and know if the margins are clean or not.  

My surgeon isn't happy with one of my margins. I too would like to minimize my chance of cancerous cells remaining and growing into something far more difficult to treat. So! Back into the operating room I go. I'm not thrilled about the prospect, but at least this time the surgeon only needs to take a little bit more, so it's a faster and less involved surgery. I'm hoping that means the healing will also be a bit faster, but on the other hand, the surgeon will be re-opening the original incision, which means re-injuring the half-healed tissue, so I'm not sure. 

I think the hardest part will be the wait for the new pathology report. It's possible that yet more DCIS (the pre-invasive cancer) could be found in the newly excised tissue, in which case, I might face yet another surgery, or even a mastectomy. I'm obviously hoping for the more happy outcome, in which the tissue is all clean and I'll be free to move on to the next phase of treatment, which involves decisions about radiation therapy. But until I get that pathology report, all the outcomes are still on the table, and that uncertainty is far harder than the actual surgery and recovery, at least for me. 

That said, the recovery is still kinda annoying. I was just starting to be able to hike and everything again! Oh well. I can still look at the pretty mountains, even if I have to wait a while longer to play in them. Some early snows have come to the high peaks, which always makes them extra beautiful (and makes me dream of skiing...fingers crossed I'll get some days in this winter.) 

Took these pics the other day while walking Comet. Winter is coming!

Anyway, once the surgery is done, I'm going to be looking for some great distractions to keep my mind off the waiting while I recover. Maybe I'll re-read Dunnett's Lymond series (my fav books of all time!), although those need a lot of concentration. Maybe I'll re-read some Diana Wynne Jones and Patricia McKillip. If anybody's got really fun absorbing books or shows to recommend, please get in touch. 


  1. It must've sucked for you to hear that, but it sounds like your doctor is doing what's best, and I hope you weather it well. For a movie, you've probably already seen it, but I really liked the Harrison Ford version of The Call of the Wild. Lifelike CGI for the dogs allowed great for scenes, and Comet will like the sled dog adventures. (Just skip every scene with the guy dressed in red, because he's really unnecessary to the movie.)

    1. Thanks, Steve! I have indeed seen (and enjoyed) Call of the Wild, but I haven't watched it in a while, so perhaps it's time for a rewatch. Call of the Wild was one of my favorite books as a kid, in part because Buck was the name of my grandparents' Australian shepherd, whom I adored with all my heart. I'd always pictured "my" Buck when reading, so it was a bit of a surprise to see the movie, check the book, and realize that the description in the book doesn't match my internal image at all. More confirmation that it doesn't matter how thoroughly & beautifully an author describes a character. Readers will picture the characters however they want!