Months To Years Summer 2018 MTY_Summer2018_v7 - Page 22

My ki-67 and Lady Chemo By Barbara LaBounta Gone are the days when a woman would go “under the conserving surgery, was originally conceived by Dr. knife” not knowing whether a suspicious breast lump was Geoffrey Keynes. The term was a jeer by his fellow malignant or benign. After the surgery, she might wake up surgeons. To excise a tumor and conserve tissue - instead with her breast intact. Or she might find that it had been of radically removing absolutely everything in its path - removed “just in case.” The uncertainty of the outcome was pure folly to the medical establishment at the time. was overwhelming to the women who experienced such However, research has since revealed that a lumpectomy surgery. - combined with radiation - has virtually identical survival outcomes to a full mastectomy in cases when the cancer is In decades past, the radical mastectomy was the norm. detected early. The philosophy was that removing as much tissue as possible would surely deliver the best outcome. The radical I learned all this from reading The Emperor of All mastectomy gruesomely evolved into the super-radical Maladies by Siddartha Mukerjee, a “biography” of cancer. or ultra-radical version, very often yielding disfiguring It’s a tome, for sure, that details the fascinating history of results. Aggressive lymph node removal, plus excision of this devastating disease, the evolution of its treatment and the latissimus and pectoralis muscles, left many hunched- the quest for cures. over, disabled women in their wake. Despite this protocol of removing large amounts of tissue, breast cancer survival Even with all the facts and figures I had gleaned from rates did not improve. reading this book (two times, cover to cover), when my breast cancer was diagnosed I was still inundated with “Lumpectomy,” the term for a now very common tissue- data, numbers, and jargon. They flowed towards me faster than I could decipher them. 22