It has been one year since my hysterectomy, and I am gearing up for yet another surgery. Because of my high risk for breast and ovarian cancer, my doctors advised me to have a double mastectomy as well. Originally I scheduled the mastectomy three months after my hysterectomy. However, with the blood loss, I had the cancel the mastectomy until I was well enough. One year later and I was cleared to proceed with the “prophylactic bilateral mastectomy”.
According to my husband, this was the worst day of his life (Haha – A facetious statement, of course!).
My amazing team of doctors and I opted for a new procedure called the “One Step”. Ultimately, the goal is to remove all of the breast tissue, and insert a silicone implant at the same time. This eliminates the need for tissue expanders. (A tissue expander is a devise that stretches the breast skin and chest muscles before a permanent implant is inserted). The One Step procedure offers instant gratification; something we Generation Xers appreciate! Also, if no cancer is found at the time of surgery, I have the option to keep my own nipples.
As always, there are also downsides. The surgery is very lengthy, seven hours. Often times, further reconstruction may be required after the procedure. Also, just because my nipples would be spared, the sensation would not be. And last, my breast would not look like “real breasts”. Because all of the breast tissue is removed, all I am left with is skin on top of implant. The best analogy is this – Imagine placing a tennis ball under a comforter, versus placing a tennis ball under a sheet. In other words, you can see any ripples and indentations because there is no layer of fat between the implant and the skin.
Still, I wasn’t scared. So what? I could now officially scratch topless dancer off my list of career choices. Hahaha! But on that note – my girlfriends did talk me into getting topless photos taken before my mastectomy. It was sort of a…Bon Voyage party for my breasts. I did cover mine up with my hands… Hey, for me, that was still risqué! Definitely not in my character, but strangely liberating to go topless!
So, on April, 5, 2012, I endured the seven hour surgery, and woke up to new breasts. Turns out, a tumor was removed from the left breast. The pathology came back, and it was ruled Fibroadenoma; a BENIGN breast tumor. Music to my ears! The left breast would need reconstruction in the future, but who cares? I was healthy.
Six months have gone by since my mastectomy. This week I am scheduled to have my first breast reconstruction surgery. I’m excited to close this chapter of my life; but forever grateful for the experience.
Sure, I no longer have some parts of my female anatomy. My stomach is scarred, my breasts are lumpy, and I’m so pale most days that I could probably pass as an extra in the Twilight series.
But, I choose to not let those things get to me.
I have my health, my friends, my family, my wine… Need I go on?
I don’t think of all the misery but of the beauty that still remains – Anne Frank