Back from reconvening with my surgeon since yesterday’s news. Looks like a double mastectomy. Paraphrasing her, “Clearly, your breasts want to make cancer, it’s probably just a matter of time before you develop another cancer in one or both.” So the choice has been made for me, it’s no longer a question of possibly sparing my breasts. And, imagine, if I had not had that follow-up ultrasound and biopsy, I would have had a lumpectomy, only to find another cancer in a year’s time.
I’m not quite sure why I’m not collapsed in a blubbering heap yet, like you see on a Lifetime movie. I am certainly frightened of the coming pain. And sad that an identifier of “who Michele is” will soon be gone. I did try to get along with these breasts. Thought we had an understanding: I support you, you don’t get in the way too much. But when they want to kill you—well, that tends to sour the partnership. And so I guess I’m ready to drop that weight from my shoulders.
Tomorrow, a consult with my oncologist to discuss my case. She won’t be staging me or anything, but they know we have a lot of questions and want to get the ball rolling.
Friday, we meet with a plastic surgeon. His schedule has to line-up with the mastectomy surgeon. So we need to heavily lean on him to fit us in. I REALLY want to do this next week; those lymph nodes are always in the back of my mind (the CIA should use this waiting game as a torture technique).
So the latest thing we need to get our heads around is reconstruction. I’m not all that crazy about it, frankly. It just seems so unnecessary in the grand scheme of things. And yet, I feel this enormous pressure from society to at least have some facsimile of breasts, even if they’re just Barbie boobs. It’s seems such a crazy thing to consider when you’re simply trying to stay alive.
RECONSTRUCTION PROCEDURE (warning: graphic)
After the mastectomy, and the check for lymph node involvement (with possible dissection), the plastic surgeon comes to the table and adds two saline-filled bladders behind my pectoral muscles.
Over a few (depending upon desired size) office visits, they inject more saline into the bladders to slowly stretch the pectoral muscles and skin (they will have taken much of my breast skin and nipple, leaving very little excess).
When you reach the desired size, they sedate you again and insert the implants behind the muscle (unlike a natural breast which is fatty on the front side of the muscle). If you want nipples, they can fashion them from your skin and then tattoo on areola.
If I understand correctly, this is where the actress Christina Applegate is at in her cancer journey.