"It's fine the way it is," my husband tells me.
"You look in the mirror at it then," I reply, making a face at the disfigured breast and the new way my nipple wanders off in the wrong direction. I pull my housecoat on.
Between the partial mastectomy and a follow-up surgery to get more margin around the tumour in my right breast it looked like a grapefruit whose bottom had gone rotten. It wrinkled and sagged although the top remained full.
Chances were good that what was left would collapse. It happened to a fellow friend and survivor. We compared notes and the work of our surgeon . Why would hers collapse and not mine?
Answer? Just wait. The bulbous post surgical swelling finally dissipated and I was left with a breast disfigured in a new way. I had almost adjusted to the mis-aligned "headlight" now facing more toward my armpit than straight. The cause of this? A lymph node "mining" incision under my arm pit. Seven nodes later, a second armpit or hollow was formed beneath my arm. A little difficult to shave as it narrows greatly at the bottom. But I digress!
Once it collapsed. the right breast now resembled a grapefruit with the far right side curled into itself much like a deflated balloon. Dr. V, my boob doc put in the recommendation to see our closest plastic surgeon, a Dr. K in Prince George. I had seen Dr. K on occasion for a face issue and while there for that, mentioned I was now on her surgical consult waiting list. I was bold, taking my advice about being your own best advocate, and asked if she would take a quick look to see if I would be a breast implant candidate or not to bother with her time.
I scored big that day as the doctor had a spare minute for me to put an examination gown on. The verdict: the loose skin from the collapse seemed supple enough, even after 16 rounds of radiation to place a bag of silicone in to pump it back up to better match my left side. It could be done quickly and the doctor hoped sooner than later with such a minor infraction.
Or so I understood. We all know who she was dealing with, right?
Personally, I think my deceased mother was once again working her magic. If I managed to jump the quay, it was for a higher purpose. So that I could write about my experience to help the next woman in line. Whether merely to quell her anxiety or to point out options, it was all help in the right direction.
Surgery day arrived. I met Dr. K in the day-surgery area where I was gowned and ready. She pulled the curtains around the bed I waited in and had me remove the draping for close-up pictures of my right breast. The before shot, I figured.
For the first time ever, I walked into the surgical theater and hopped onto the table. Seconds later I was out cold.
Thinking I was waking up to a mere silicone implant, I was surprised to hear there hadn't been enough flexible tissue as Dr. K had hoped for. An expander had been inserted into my breast. An expander is mostly an empty bag with a metal portal on top. After inserted and sewn in, the doctor takes a syringe and finding the metal portal on the top of the inserted bag using a magnetic device, inserts the needle into the bag, pumping 60 cc's of saline into it.
Once home, I had to leave the bandaging on for a week. Once uncovered I noticed the great job the doc had done following the previous scars. It took another four weeks for the incision to heal enough to see my regular Dr. V again for the second "fill."
Once I have had a total of 200 ccs of saline put in over a course of two months, Dr. K will then perform another surgery to remove the saline filled bag and expander for a permanent silicone bag of equal size.
The next blog will be on the stages that followed this priocedure. With any hopes I will get a copy of the before and after X Rated boob shots.