Friday, June 19, 2009

Rummaging Around For Some Grace

Lots of odds and ends. The most important news is my surgery, scheduled for Wednesday. And with that, I must drop all worry about my lymph nodes, the big unknown. Time to let it go.

We visited with the oncologist yesterday and that went well. It was tough to tour the oncology wing of the cancer center still with breasts and hair, and nod to those in various stages of their chemo process. The doctor assured us: my treatment will be specifically geared to my results, history, genetics, etc., not just some boilerplate dosage.

Last night I read a dozen or so survivor stories and they ran the gamut. Everything from women who had a small lump removed with no chemo and a little radiation to women who had suffered for a decade with the most dangerous, aggressive breast cancer. Every story was positive, every woman making the most of her time on earth.

This morning we met with the plastic surgeon and he also assuaged some concerns. I told him that I don’t need to be busty, I just don’t want to be concave. I really hated the idea of repeat visits to be “pumped up.” His eyes lit at the challenge and he told us about an alternative: immediate reconstruction. It will provide me small but presentable breasts and doesn’t require chest expanders or additional surgery. 90% of my decision was ‘the beach factor,’ when passersby might look at me in a swimsuit and balk. I’m reasonably sure my friends and family understand that I don’t need to be a 34D anymore.

This weekend will be about getting things in order—a balance of cleaning, organization and relaxing with my family.

Peace to all.



PROCEDURE: IMMEDIATE RECONSTRUCTION

After the mastectomy, the plastic surgeon opens a pocket behind my pectoral muscle. Instead of inserting expanders, he will sever the muscle and reattach it to tissue called Alloderm to provide immediate expansion. Then he will insert the actual breast implant and sew me up. All done.

So what’s the catch? I won’t be big breasted anymore. And, well, Alloderm, scares people. It is donor tissue that has been cleansed (probably irradiated) of cells that might cause rejection. It actually carries less risk and discomfort than the more popular expansion technique.

Why am I not freaked out by having a stranger’s tissue connected to mine? Because I already have a donor’s achilles tendon (allograft) in my knee. I got over the creep-out factor a couple years ago. In fact, I’m incredibly thankful. My post-op knee works better than it ever did, the muscles on it are noticeably larger than my right.

So. Soon I will be comprised of three people!

Which I will conveniently use to explain mood swings.

11 comments:

Anonymous said...

Michele,

Good luck with the surgery next week. And -- cool option with the reconstruction. Just think of all the bikers you'll pass on the Greenway and how cool you'll look in a jersey!

Trish

Michele Harris said...

Sweet. Maybe I can finagle some new jerseys out of this.
Thanks!

Anonymous said...

Just think how you will be able to golf like a pro! (Who was that sexist ass who claimed women couldn't golf because their breasts got in the way?)

What time is your surgery scheduled on Wed.?

Not sure what your plans are with your kids but I'm home Thursday with C & C. Can I come get yours and we could have a little playdate at our house for a little while? Let me know. We can just be "on call" too. It would be very easy on our end and the boys would love it.

Kick some Cancer Ass, girl! Show it who's boss!

Love you!
~ Jenny

Michele Harris said...

You are so incredibly generous, Jenny. We've got Rita spending the day and night with them but let's definitely do something. Maybe we can host a Maybe Baby even somewhere in all this. I'd like to see all the kids together again and hang out with the gals.

Surgery is at 11am. Two to three hours. Cheryl will be live-blogging if her nerves hold out.

Michele Harris said...

Surgery starts at 1:00, we have to be there at 11:00.

Anonymous said...

Love the attitude, sis. I didn't expect to laugh while reading your blog, but I did. Tell Cheryl to take me up on my offer to fly out to help with the housekeeping, if you think she and mom need me. I'm also very good at distracting relatives.
Donna

Anonymous said...

Michele -

Just back on a PC after being out of town for a few days. Wow. You've been busy. What can I do? Food? Drinks? Sorry, I'm no good with kids. :-) Did they give you any type of recovery timeline? When can I come over bearing pizza??

- Laura

Zan and Laura said...

Michele,
Your blog comments are wonderful - I don't know how you're holding it together and managing to be witty at the same time. We are thinking of you, and will be anxious to hear the news of a successful surgery on Wednesday. Good luck! And let us know if we can help in any way...
Laura (&Zan&Spence)

Michele Harris said...

Donna, I got the first wave of cleaning done, but these people I live with do not share my appreciation for the sport. So, we'll see. At any rate, we look forward to seeing you guys this summer.

Michele Harris said...

Laura, Two weeks on the initial recovery. But four weeks between now and chemo. So maybe we can hang sometime in there? Although, you know how the chemo goes. That might be when I need the pizza!

Michele Harris said...

Thanks Laura C! Cheryl will definitely need hugs a long the way I'm sure.