Yesterday we received the official pathology report from my mastectomy. How very strange. I don't have the pages in front of me now to quote directly, but I can tell you that the first paragraph is a physical description of the thing itself - size, shape, skin color, biopsy scars. It even details the "erect" nipple, it's dimensions and color and "eccentric" location. I was interested to learn that my breast weighed 716 grams - a little more than a pound and a half. I would have guessed more.
And then the report goes into the location and size of the tumors. The most important details, as far as my doctors are concerned, are these: (1) The largest dimension of the largest tumor was 4 cm. (2) There was no cancer within 10 millimeters of the edge of the excised tissue. (3) Of the mass of lymph nodes taken from my armpit, there was cancer in just two of them.
Tumor size and number of involved lymph nodes are major factors in predicting my chances of survival. Later today I'll see the oncologist, whom I presume will explain my prognosis in detail. In the meantime, according to my amateur calculations, my chances of being alive and cancer free ten years from now fall at 70%. Seventy percent sounds okay when you picture a crowd of one hundred. I can see myself safely among the majority there. But if you think of 70% as so very close to 66%, and translate that number to a crowd of three where one of the three does not make it, well, I feel a whole heck of a lot more vulnerable.
In a way, I don't care at all about the numbers. I have to move forward and live, a pound and a half lighter. Simple as that.