Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Breast Reconstruction

I must say to you all - I have put off writing this particular post for quite some time.  I want to stay fairly positive with my blog, and breast reconstruction is a really hard subject for me.  But as I am moving forward with my checkpoints - it is the next thing down the line.

When I was first diagnosed with breast cancer I began to research every facet of the disease and the various procedures I would most likely have to undergo.  I still remember sitting at the computer and reading the descriptions of the various types of reconstruction.  As I reviewed a few of them I even told my husband I could not imagine why anyone would ever choose to do that.  Not that I didn't understand their desire to have the breast reconstruction, but why would you choose such a difficult surgery.  Little did I know at the time that it wasn't really their choice.

You see there are a few different options available; you can have immediate breast reconstruction with a skin sparing mastectomy, you can have implants with an expander during a later reconstruction, or there are FLAP procedures where the surgeon removes muscle and skin from other parts of your body and builds a new breast with it.   I have to say I have always been afraid of plastic surgery and had long told myself that I would just have to grow old gracefully because I could not bring myself to inflict pain upon myself.  Did I say I was a little afraid - I mean seriously scared.

Prior to my mastectomy my husband and I met with my oncologist, surgeon, and plastic surgeon.  I must say I was a bit naive when I went to see the plastic surgeon - I just wasn't aware of how naive.  As he began to explain various procedures and show pictures he kept indicating that that wasn't an option for me and would flip on to the next one.  For a brief moment I couldn't hear him as he spoke. I could only recall the images I had seen online, and a voice in my head telling me "it's going to be that awful procedure isn't it".  When my head cleared and I again joined the conversation, I heard just what I thought I would.  Because of the size of my tumor and my need for radiation - I would have to select a FLAP procedure. 

I can tell you that I had to put a lid on that package and hide it on the shelf for quite some time because of my intense fear of this procedure.  It is hard to find stories of people in my particular situation and my research brought me little or no comfort.  Yet I am optimistic with the new studies and advancements in breast reconstruction, and am sure at some point I will make a choice I feel good about.

For now I have my prosthesis and wear it occasionally - mostly in my swimsuit.  They are hot and the band of the bra still bothers my radiated skin. A lot of people choose to never have reconstruction, I may not.  But, I will tell you that of all the aspects of moving forward it is emotionally very hard to know that a part of you is missing that truly seems to embody what we think of as feminine and defines us as women.  I don't always miss my breasts, but it is pretty odd to not have nipples.

There are several informative sites on breast reconstruction which I will share with you as well as a beautiful photo journal I would like to share.  I'm hoping that it will not offend you, but will instead help you to better understand a woman with breast cancer.

I also found this video very informative, but it is a very long one;


  1. I am so proud of you for sharing this subject matter with others. I have found that most people assume that everyone with breast cancer can easily have new breasts put back with no problem.Not at all the case,there is so much more to it than implants. Thankyou,thankyou,thankyou,for making some of the unknown facts of recovery public.

  2. You just never cease to amaze me! A well written post with a heart of vulnerablilty. May God continue to heal you, give you strength, as you intimately share your journey.

    Thank you for sharing The Scar Project. I don't know that I have ever seen more beautiful women. There is a depth of courage that few will ever know.

    Sweet blessings to you and yours.

    Love and Prayers,

    [Aunt] Penny

    PK @ Knee Deep In Grace


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