I’ve been all over the map in regards to writing about my surgery. It’s happening in two weeks. I’ve never had any surgery before, so the whole thing seems like a big deal to me. Also, it’s pretty personal stuff and I haven’t known what I will have wished I kept to myself versus what I am sure I want to tell you. My inclination is to tell you everything. But then I think, If I had been born with weird boobs, I never would have blogged about them. So why would I be so open about this surgery? I have found that people genuinely care about what’s happening to me, many folks don’t know the difference between a double mastectomy and a “boob job”, and writing about it helps me face my feelings. So, I’m going to blog about my weird boobs (probably more than a few times). You’ve been warned.
Drum roll please….On December 7, I’m having a bilateral mastectomy, axillary dissection and immediate reconstruction. I’ll break that down. Bilateral mastectomy: They are removing all the breast tissue from both sides and removing both nipples. They have to remove the nipples because the cancer is Invasive Ductal Carcinoma. Nipples are nothing if they aren’t ductal, so they are at high risk to carry cancer. Also, because I had cancer extensively in my axillary lymph nodes, I have to have an “axillary dissection”. That means that they are removing somewhere between 8 and 20 lymph nodes from my arm pit. Lastly, the “immediate reconstruction” means that they will place expanders in place of my breast tissue. These expanders are like water balloons with a port. The port gives access, or a channel, so that a needle can deliver fluid. They will gradually fill the expanders–over the course of 6-8 weeks–with saline. These expanders will be in place through radiation, but are temporary. I will have another surgery to swap them out for silicone, around six months after radiation is complete.
It has taken me months to make peace with this surgery. If there was one word to describe how I’ve felt, it would be horrified. Not only will I look different, I will never have feeling in my breasts again. I have a middle toe that goes numb if I stand in the cold too long and that drives me nuts. I can’t imagine having a rather large dead zone in the middle of my body all the time. But, I’ve met a lot of women who have been through this and they laugh, and love life and this isn’t the biggest deal to them. I’ve lost my hair and my health and yet, my husband still loves me. I know he’d rather lose my breasts than lose me. I think my kids would agree. So, it’s settled. This is all ok. It’s for a good cause. I’ve had lots of time to get used to it and I’m no longer horrified. In fact, after hearing my surgeon say a few weeks ago, “I anticipate that when you wake up from surgery, you will be cancer-free,” I’m almost looking forward to it.