May love and laughter light your days, and warm your heart and home.
May good and faithful friends be yours, wherever you may roam.
May peace and plenty bless your world with joy that long endures.
May all life's passing seasons bring the best to you and yours!
~ Robert Frost


Welcome to my blog. This is my story of how I faced my risk of breast cancer, the decisions I made, the support I received and my week by week recovery from surgery. I chose to have a prophylactic bilateral mastectomy with immediate DIEP reconstruction at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston (March 2010). For more information on my 'Medical Team' please see tab above. I also have a wonderful circle of friends who have supported me throughout. They have provided us with lots of delicious meals and desserts. Many of those recipes are included above under "Feed the Flap" recipes. "Feed the Flap" is a term I coined when trying to increase my abdominal (fat) flap to ensure that I was a good candidate for the DIEP procedure. This was not something recommended by any medical professional, it was just something that made sense to me. I think it worked!! Feel free to join me on this journey and feel free to post comments.

Select the tabs on the left side marked Week 1, Week 2, Week 3..... to go immediately to the surgical/recovery part of this blog.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Where's the Pain?

It's now well over 2 months since my PBM + DIEP, so I thought I would provide an update on pain. Truly I don't remember when it stopped. If you recall my pain was never more than a 0, 1 or 2, but I was achy and somewhat uncomfortable at times. But now, 2 months out, I rarely even think of my breasts at all. There is that moment in the morning when I decide what to wear when my breasts are in my thoughts, but other than that they aren't.

This amazes me. For two years now my breasts have been foremost on my mind. It was exactly two years ago that I was scheduled for my first biopsy. That biopsy was rescheduled to accommodate my summer schedule, plus there was some denial going on. It may have been postponed, but I was already on the roller coaster that carried me through even more biopsies, mammos, MRIs, ultrasounds, pathology results, breast surgery consults, plastic surgery consults, and ultimately my decision to have a PBM with DIEP at BIDMC in Boston.

As I sit here in comfy clothes with my binder on (I like it!), thinking back to this whole journey, I am reminded of my biggest fear. Pain. Because I had so much time to make a decision on what to do about my LCIS, I focused alot on pain. I read about post mastectomy pain syndrome and nerve damage and general long term regrets. Since there is no going back I really needed to make sure I understood all the risks. Then I had to decide if the risks of  moving forward outweighed the risks of doing nothing. So, at my pre-op visit with Maria in Dr. Tobias' office, I had four pages of questions that she so graciously answered in depth and with humor. 90% of those questions were about pain. The other 10% were about breast size. My fears were certainly bubbling to the surface. I remember thinking that if I was going to back out that now would be the time.

Since everyone is different, no one can tell you definitively what it will be like for YOU. But you won't know until you take the leap. In my calculating mind, I knew that my risk for lymphodema was zero since I didn't need to have a sentinel node biopsy. Remember, what I had was LCIS (lobular carcinoma in situ), a non-invasive bc, which is perceived as a marker for increased risk of bc, not a pre-curser. So, I knew I could dodge that bullet, but I worried alot about residual pain.

At first, immediately after my surgery, I thought I had some nerve damage in my arm. It was there for about 2 weeks, then disappeared. It was very uncomfortable. My fears of residual pain were surfacing, but I was still glad to have had my risk of bc reduced.

I am lucky. Lucky to have had an aggressive local breast surgeon who was committed to understanding my 'complicated' breasts. Lucky to have found LCIS and nothing more. Lucky to have the time to research and understand my options. Lucky to have a supportive family who could step in for us while we spent many days away from home. Lucky to have friends who circled us with love, compassion, support, flowers and food! And lucky to have had very little pain and now to have no pain at all.

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