Wednesday, September 29, 2010
A year ago I really was obsessing on whether or not I should have my breasts removed to fend off my risk of invasive breast cancer. There were endless hours of internet research trying to figure out if this was my best option or if I should wait and watch. There were endless hours connecting with new friends on the best breast cancer support site online. I can't say enough about the support these women gave me. I found women there who represented both sides of the question, "should I or shouldn't I?" Listening to both sides was key to making my decision. One thing that was very apparent to me was that in 3, 4, 5 or 10 years I DID NOT WANT TO BE spending endless hours at breastcancer.org. I did not want to waste another minute on this horrid disease. I wanted to be done with it and move on to living my life.
The only hurdle I had to moving on was a bilateral mastectomy with reconstruction. This was very scary to me. How could I possibly live through and recover from a 14.5 hour operation? Would I be normal after all that? Would I regret my decision? These were very real questions.
Sometimes in life you just have to take a leap of faith. I knew in my head that a PBM/DIEP was the right thing AND I found, what I believe to be, the best team in the world to do my procedure. I just had to get the courage to schedule my surgery. That was probably the toughest phone call I had ever made. Once it was made and the surgery was booked, I started reaching out to people I knew personally who had taken this path before me. Five friends come to mind as they spent lots of time with me on the phone answering questions like, "what do they feel like now?", "how did you make your decision?", "did you go with nipples or tattooing?", "what kind of follow-up have you needed?". You get the picture, nothing was off limits. These women were my lifeline. Not one person regretted her decision. No one was in pain. No one died. I could do it.
So on March 29th, 2010 I was as calm as I've ever been as I walked over to BIDMC for a 14.5 hour surgery. I knew I was doing what was right for me and for my family. I trusted my medical team. And now, I simply feel relief that that part of my journey is over. My risk of invasive breast cancer is now 0-2%, not 50-85%. I can live with that!!
Tuesday, September 21, 2010
I am having flashbacks to March 29th. At that point I had put so much into that decision that I was more than ready. Plus I had the advantage of not knowing what to expect. This time I know that I can have an adverse reaction to anesthesia and morphine. Plus, who knows if I will have another phlegm ball incident. The one saving grace is that I absolutely trust my doctor. But it is still surgery.
Needles....not my favorite things. Last time I began drinking lots and lots of water so that my veins would be easy to find and less painful as they insert them for IVs and all the other things they hook up to my body. I can't imagine that I will wake up in the PACU and have tons of things hooked to me like last time, but I just don't know. I can honestly say that the ABSOLUTE WORST DAY of my life was the day I spent in PACU. This is certainly not the case with anyone else I know. They actually liked their nurses in PACU. Again, it's the phlegm ball thing. When you can't breathe, life is tough.
Being a post-surgical patient has been awesome. Being a pre-surgical patient is not quite so awesome. I have to wrap my mind around it all over again. Last time I had expected to be laid-up for 6 weeks, when in reality it was about 6 days, if that. This time I don't know what to expect. I am hoping to be feeling fine the day after as I have purchased tickets to the Super Supper at my daughter's school and want to go to the event. BUT, I know that if I plan on feeling great, I will be down and out and very disappointed. This time there shouldn't be an drains - I pray for no drains!! Plus I have given all my drain supplies (marsupial pouch, bathrobe, jacket, etc) to a friend who just had the surgery. The likelihood of drains is slim.
One other thing is that I thought I was just getting lipo, not that that isn't a big deal, but I hadn't realized that I would also be getting nipple reconstruction during this procedure. I've been on the fence about nipples. I like my breasts they way they are and am not sure that adding nipples will make me happy. I still can choose not to do that, but on the other hand......when I change in a locker room it would be nice to look a bit more normal. And I have two little girls who might even forget someday that I had a bilateral mastectomy if my body looked like everyone else's body.
So, yes, I am nervous. Yes, I will do more research into nipple reconstruction. And, yes, I will do what I can to be the best I can be for my surgery.
Friday, September 17, 2010
Wednesday, September 8, 2010
This is a post that has been waiting to come out. Maybe I am being a bit touchy, but when a friend's friend (male/55+) said, "More importantly, how does your husband like them?", I didn't take it well. I gave him just a cursory response, but later thought about the absolute thoughtlessness of this comment. He is great example of someone who truly doesn't get it. I did not have my breasts removed/replaced for any other reason than to reduce my risk of breast cancer. Going from a good B-cup to a small A-cup isn't about cosmetics. I've wondered what it is that I said that may have gotten him thinking I was in for enhancements. Anyway I just needed to get this off my chest!!
My blog is meant to be about my experience as a high-risk woman, diagnosed with LCIS (lobular carcinoma in situ) and when faced with my options, chose to have a prophylactic bilateral mastectomy with immediate DIEP reconstruction at Beth Israel Deaconness Hospital in Boston with the best doctors in the world (my opinion)! I have completed Stage I of my DIEP procedure. I still have one more surgery and two more office procedures before I am complete. Stage II is scheduled for November 5th.
My posts will continue, albeit sporadic since I have a pre-K daughter who attends school half-days and I am trying to fit my work into those short periods of time.