Saturday, November 9, 2013

Anjelina Jolie didn't wake up with new boobies either! Becky's moving forward blog.

Yesterday marked 3 weeks since my bilateral mastectomy.  I try to remember certain things about that day and the days following and it's very hard to reclaim because of all of the medication. Before the surgery, I was in the usual holding area with my husband and best friend, Michelle. The I.V. had been inserted and it was then where my tears started flowing. I had to tell the poor nurse that I was not crying because of the needles (I was used to that), but because of what was going to happen next.  I couldn't stop crying. I just let the tears come out. After so many procedures, tests, surgeries, I have never cried. But on that day, there was nothing left to do. I just felt like there was no turning back. I knew I was making the right decision but that didn't mean I didn't have the right to mourn what was happening. I never once doubted my decision to have the double mastectomy, but now I felt like a scared little girl, helpless and sad.

I wasn't scared of dying on the table. I wasn't scared of the pain that would follow in the coming days. I wasn't scared that the doctors were going to mess up.  I guess my crying was a culmination of everything up to that point. The feeling like my body was to be forever altered. It would never be the same again. A big (actually quite small) part of me was going away forever.  I was also afraid of looking in the mirror for the first time after the surgery.  I had seen pictures before, thanks to Stupid Dumb Breast Cancer's blog. She too, had a double with reconstruction and was brave enough to photograph her post mastectomy pics and share them with the world. Viewing these pics before hand, really did help me with the unknown, but I have to say, I was still scared about the emotional impact of being boobless. Many people think when you undergo a double with reconstruction, you wake up with new boobs. Well, this is not always the case and Anjelina Jolie didn't wake up with new boobies either. One more thing we have in common. 

But I digress.

Michelle and my husband sat by my side and for once, neither one of them cracked jokes or tried to "cheer me up". They both knew this is what I needed and I'm sure they felt like crying too, the poor things. The last thing I remember was the crying and then I went into that wonderful La La land of anesthesia, or as I call it, "Mommy's Vacation".  Shamefully, I must admit, I was looking forward to a few days of room service and ordering everything off the menu, even if it meant body altering surgery, I'll take it!

I woke up in recovery to wonderful nurses who kept my pain to a minimum. I was finally wheeled to my room that evening, my husband still by my side. The bandages did not stay on for long so I looked down and thankfully, was not as traumatized as I thought I'd be. (Thank you morphine). First of all, when a mastectomy is done, all of the breast tissue is removed but the skin is still in tact. And because I opted for reconstruction, temporary tissue expanders were placed under my chest muscles and then the plastic surgeon injected some saline so that when I woke up, I had some pre-pubescent boobies. However, my nipples had been removed because my doctor does not believe in "nipple sparing" due to any cancer that may be in the nipples, kind of defeats the purpose of this whole procedure. Here is what they look like inside, picture on the left.

Eventually, the tissue expanders will be removed after having saline injected into them over a certain time span in order to stretch the skin. Once my Dolly Parton boobs are acheived, they operate again and swap out the expanders for permanent silicone implants, see picture on the right. And then I'm done! Amen!

So, getting back to the Foobs, as the Pink Sisters like to call them (Fake Boobs). There are incisions going straight across both breasts. It looks like 2 closed eyes so every time I look in the mirror, I want to say, "Wake up and open your damn eyes!" I would show you a picture of them here, however, my mom would be mortified if I publicized them so if you are really interested, just Google it or click here for Stupid Dumb Breast Cancer where this wonderful gal Ann Marie sends Bravery Bags all over to women with breast cancer. She is one of the wonderful gifts breast cancer has brought to me. A kindred spirit and a crazy Italian girl, just like me!

So, fast forward to today. It's been three weeks. I am still not driving and I cannot lift anything over 5 pounds. I'm not in pain, per se, however it feels like there is something heavy strapped to my chest at all times and at the end of the day, it is all so damn tight, I do need to take muscle relaxers. I finally got off the heavy pain killers and I just went to my plastic surgeon yesterday for my second fill up. I am currently up to 190 ccs of saline, or really what my previous size was.  I could stop now but you know, I'm not going through all this shit to have little boobs again.  I deserve a Boobie Prize after enduring biopsies, 2 surgeries, so much damn stress and anxiety, I think I have the right to "trade up" now to at least a B cup, don't you think? My plastic surgeon used the word "cleavage" yesterday and I had to look it up in the dictionary.  I have to say, I'm pretty excited about getting some!

Best of all, (and I had to save the best for last because the boob talk is really all the superficial stuff), remember the reason why we did all this? Breast Cancer! BINGO!  I met with my breast surgeon a week or so after the surgery and my pathology report shows no traces of cancer. YES, you read that right.  The boobies are clear! The right side was taken because I did not want to worry about it in the future and it was not going to match the unhealthy side after recon, so that's that.  Thank you, Thank you! The 4 rounds of chemo are behind me and that was performed because one out of 3 lymph nodes had tested positive. So, if any cancer was let loose into my system, hopefully, the chemo stopped it in its tracks. 

I am so overjoyed by this news but I don't know if it has really registered yet.  In the mean time, I'm doing my stretching exercises at home, trying to eat healthy, catching up on my blog and just being so damn thankful, to the wonderful doctors, nurses, my parents,  all of my family and friends, and to my husband who is always there by my side. I would not have made it this far without all of them.

And the emotional impact of all of this? I have to say, I haven't cried since that fateful day, 10/18 when my body was to be forever changed. Yes, it's changed, but for the better. Sure, my breasts look a little creepy and are a work in progress, but they served their purpose and saying goodbye to them in my previous blog really helped me tremendously.  If a Pink Sister is reading this right now and has to travel the same road as me, I highly recommend it! You can do this and you WILL survive it.

It's time to move forward. There is no point in living in the past because I'm not going there, ever again.


Margaret Cooke said...

Becky, I think that you are incredibly and wonderfully inspirational! I find you authentic, genuine and real. I am really enjoying and learning so much from you and your experience. Although I have recently endured colon cancer surgery and can relate to you, it is nothing compared to the journey that you've been through! Wow! God bless you. You are touching more lives than you think...Fondly, Peggy

The Breast Cancer Warrior said...

Great blog, Becky!

Lynn Sheehan said...

So true Becky, every word that you said brings back so many memories. I think I did the same thing, one good cry!! we all need that after all of the testing, biopsies. procedures, the waiting, and the worrying. You are well on your way to having some cleavage. I remember that presure feeling against my chest with the expanders....that was the most difficult to get used to. Then all of a sudden one day you will realize that you do not feel it anymore. So proud of you Pink Sister and thank you for spreading all of your humor and love!! <3 Hugs, Lynn

AMER O said...

I am forever you sour patch sister! Xo