I have 4 more radiation treatments left. So far, so good. Side effects have been minimal. The worst part is driving to the hospital everyday. It has taken a lot of help from my friends and family to be able to pull it off. I’ve had to depend on others to help cover classes, pick up Nick, do household chores, etc. I’ve learned that I’m not comfortable being the one being taken care of. I prefer to be the one taking care of others. I’ve really had to learn to let go.
Today I met with the plastic surgeon, Dr. K. Originally, I had planned to have a reconstructive surgery called a tram free flap. This procedure uses abdominal tissue to reconstruct the breast. The results are amazing, but it is at least a 12 hour surgery. It’s also a tougher recovery since I would be having chest and abdominal surgery at the same time. I went into the appointment today, thinking I had changed my mind. I thought I would go with a simpler procedure using tissue expanders and then eventually replacing them with implants. It’s a longer process, because you have to slowly fill the expanders over several months, and then have a second surgery to put in the permanent implants. However, the implant surgeries are simpler and recovery is only a week or two vs. about 8-12 weeks with the tram free flap. I figured after everything I have been through in the past couple of months…..biopsies, scans, diagnosis, radiation……let’s do the simpler surgeries.
Of course, nothing can be simple in my situation. Since I had breast cancer 10 years ago, along with 7 weeks of radiation to the effected breast, reconstruction options come with possible complications. If I choose the implants, there are numerous considerations. Irradiated skin often does not “stretch” well. This could mean less than favorable results. There is also a higher risk of “capsular contracture” which means the body attacks the implant as a foreign object. This would mean starting over from scratch and eliminating implants as an option. Also, irradiated skin means that the exapansion must go slower than usual. It would take about a year to exapand the skin before I could have the second surgery. It’s an awful lot to consider. Do I go for the big surgery and endure the long recovery? Or do I roll the dice and take my chances on the implants?
All of the doctors are in agreement that the choice is mine. Even my oncologist says either option is fine and won’t effect my cancer care one way or another. I love my doctors, but sometimes I just wish someone would tell me what to do!
So after careful consideration and discussion with Mark, I think I’m going to go with the original plan. This means the majority of my summer will be spent recovery from surgery, but if all goes well, once recovery is over, so is reconstruction. The thought of dragging the process out for a year or more is just not appealing. I had changed my mind thinking the implants were a simpler choice, but I guess it depends on your definition of “simple.” I don’t have a surgery date yet, but hopefully it will be soon. I’m ready to move forward and get the surgery behind me. I’ve learned that being a patient requires a lot of patience!
I know I say this in almost every post…..but I can’t thank my friends and family enough for all of the love and support. It seems like everyday I receive a card, gift, email, or act of kindness that touches my heart and soul. I’m overwhelmed by the wonderful people that I am so blessed to have in my life!