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To New Boob or Not to New Boob

LII - She's a beauty...

After my earlier visit to the Breast Surgeon that morning, I realized I needed to learn more about the mastectomy process before making my final decision. I was still leaning towards the lumpectomy, but I felt like I needed to understand the full outcomes of a mastectomy and the process of reconstruction. I knew, for me, if I went that route I would want a set of new boobs.

The day had already been busy and I did not realize that it was about to be much longer and exhausting. On the way to the Plastic Surgeon appointment both my nostrils decided to just bleed. So, I grabbed the travel tissue out of my purse and shoved some up my nose. Thank goodness for that travel tissue!!!

Driving with bloody nose issues...

The appointment was different than I expected. I was hoping for before and after pictures and a deeper understanding of what the after affects of a mastectomy would be. Instead I got an old DVD explanation that featured older women discussing their experience, but without really giving me the details. I want to hear - dude my nipples don't feel anything, or my new breasts are hard/soft, or what the real recovery was like. So, I was sadly disappointed that I was given a generic film that didn't really focus on the reality of it all. However, it did discuss the various options in detail.

The main option discussed was using tissue expanders as the option for reconstruction. It seems that option provides a faster recovery, makes nice new (silicone, as it is smoother) boobs, and overall less invasive. Learn more about tissue expanding reconstruction... click here. There are other options, but not used as often any more. Learn more about some of the other various options for reconstruction... click here.

For more general information about mastectomy reconstruction... click here.

The nurse was equally as helpful or unhelpful. All I got was that they removed the boobs, put in new boobs, created a fake nipple, and tattooed some pink to make it look "real". I kept asking what that really looked like - I wouldn't buy a car without seeing it?!?! Or in this case, use a doctor without knowing what he can do.

However, the topper to the day was the few comments made throughout the 2 hour meeting. Let me clarify, the nurse was super nice and was not trying to be mean (really she wasn't) and did not make the comments back-to-back, however a couple of comments were made that just made me feel uncomfortable.

What not to say #1: I cannot believe you kept the cancer inside you and did chemo first. I just cannot imagine leaving it in there, I would never do that.

Trust me, I know that people think it is weird that I did treatment first, but I have been able to make sure that the chemo works. If not, we would have just hoped it did. I never really cared that the cancer was still there - as long as we were killing it. I know people, I am odd.

What not to say #2: (referring to mastectomy over lumpectomy) You do want to see your kids grow up, don't you?

No, I don't want to. That is actually what I said. She didn't find it funny cause she went on saying, "You don't mean that..." Of course, I don't mean that - I was being sarcastic because I felt you overstepped your boundary line. I already am struggling with my decision, the comment made me feel as if I didn't do the mastectomy I didn't love my kids. Comments about if I choose a lumpectomy = choosing death aren't helpful. Plus, I pointed out that both procedures have the same survival rate.

What not to say #3: You don't want a to remove just one. But knowing how insurance is changing, who knows they could only pay to repair the breast with cancer. Or they may change the laws anyway not covering the cost to fix the mastectomy.

Probably not the best selling point. Yes, insurance may be changing. Yes, laws may be changing. However, unless you know for sure, it is probably best not to speculate. I don't want to hear you are going to cut off 2 boobs and possibly only repair the bad one. Then I would have removed my "good" boob for no reason - not even to get a new one?!?! Trust me - it did not make me feel reassured. And implying that if I did the lumpectomy first, then mastectomy that I may not be covered financially felt more like fear and less like a solid decision. 

In my head...

I have really wanted to make an intelligent decision, based on all the facts. While the appointment did give me information, it actually made me think more fearfully about the decision. I did not want to make a fear-based decision.

In the end, I have had my two main doctor's (Oncologist, Breast Surgeon) reiterate that both options are equally as successful for me. That it was basically my choice. I am glad I investigated and learned more. I am glad I understand the process and outcome more. I have no issue if I need to remove my breast, the new breasts have some advantages. However, I still feel I am going to go with the less invasive procedure and then do more if necessary.

“The only way to cope with something deadly serious is to try to treat it a little lightly.” 
- Madeleine L'Engle, A Wrinkle in Time

Episode Reference: She's a Beauty, The Tubes song


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