(For those who don’t know this, this is my second blog post about having breast cancer. Luckily, it was found early and my doctors moved quickly.)
I am one drugged up human being and have been for the last 6 days.
I got the call Tuesday afternoon, the 24th, that I had to be at the hospital by 6 a.m. the next day. Ok, now plans can be put into play. So, we (my daughter and I) get up at 3:30 for the hour and 10 minute ride in crappy weather with people going to work who have forgotten how to drive in snowy rain.
Check in. Get in to the surgical area, get naked, get gowned, get the IV, talk to the doctor, the anesthesiologist, nurses, more nurses and get prepped, and that’s all I remember. Lol LOVE good drugs.
I barely remember Wednesday, but I do remember hurting like crazy when I woke up and just wanting to sleep it all off.
Almost forgot…. This surgery had gone from being a double mastectomy to a single on the left side but it was still terrifying to know that, when you wake up, you’re going to be hurting almost as badly as you do during labor. The reason for this is that they found no cancer in the right one and why do a double if it’s unnecessary at the moment. Looking back on it now, I don’t think I could have handled a double from the pain standpoint.
The cut on lefty was done in an upside down T-shape and 2 lymph nodes were taken out and tested for cancer during surgery. They use a blue dye that shows any abnormal cells as soon as they remove the nodes and put them in the solution. Both lymph nodes were clean, showing zero signs of cancer.
Now, I wait on the final results, the information from the geneticist to tell me how it happened since there is zero history of breast cancer in my family, and how, and when, lefty gets rebuilt.
Until then, I’m doing a whole bunch of nothing except arm and shoulder exercises, sleeping, eating, blogging, playing games and waiting for the expander to do its thing each week.
Yes, I said expander. This isn’t over yet, folks!
While I was under, and after the breast tissue was removed, the plastic surgeon (you got it, cancer surgeon AND plastic surgeon whooohooo!) placed an expander under the muscle of my chest where lefty had been. He put 100 cc’s of whatever liquid he’s going to inflate me with inside the expander. Then, he sewed me up and sent me to recovery.
Each week, or maybe every other, I’ll be visiting the doctor to have 100 cc’s of fluid inserted into the expander. When it reaches the same volume as my right breast, and my body adjusts to the size, THEN we have the final surgery to rebuild lefty with fatty tissue taken from my stomach to fill up the void. He will make both breasts even so one doesn’t look massively different from the other and they’re at the same level.
Boob job AND a flatter stomach! What’s not to like, right? I’ll let you know how painful it is!
You’re probably thinking “WTF”? Why go through all of that just to fill up a bra cup?
Truthfully, I have no clue. One doctor goes on about body image, another doctor talked about the psychological effects of mastectomy, one kid says it won’t be you without it, the other kid says do what you want but it won’t feel the same for you. Another doctor stressed the cost of the bra that would have to be made to order since I’ll be lopsided. I’ve read hundreds of opinions on whether or not to reconstruct. HUNDREDS.
Me? I couldn’t care less. My self esteem doesn’t rest in my boobs. It never has. Yeah, it’s nice how they hold up a sweater, big deal. They were useful when I was breastfeeding but I’m long past that now.
Psychologically, they’re breasts. Everyone has them in some size or other and it’s pretty much a useless pair of fatty tissue sticking out of your chest after a certain age. Do I really need a matched pair for my ego? No. No, I don’t.
BUT……..The real reason to get reconstruction is, the kids asked me to do it. I couldn’t care less but, when you love people, you take into account their feelings and do things you may think are unnecessary.
When push comes to shove, you have to take care of yourself.
Do in-depth research on the type of cancer you have. Read about it. Ask questions. Let friends and family rally around you to help. Find a doctor (or doctors) who treats you like a real person and not a disease. Be an integral part of the process, not just the person who goes under the knife and is terrified.
Knowledge is power. The more you know, the less frightened you will be. Trust me on this. Research and knowledge are your best friends. So are questions. Ask them. There is no such thing as a stupid question when it’s YOUR life hanging in the balance.
What every single person facing breast cancer should know is that breasts are NOT you. They don’t think for you, they don’t act for you, the don’t make you who you are. You don’t need them. They’re like your appendix. It’s just there until it decides to revolt and cause you a lot of pain. But it does not have a single thing to do with the person you are. Please remember that.
Your boobs aren’t you.