*Foob = fake boob
After many months of umming and arghing about whether to have a breast reconstruction, on 19 May, I bit the bullet and had my surgery. I was so apprehensive about the surgery and really worried about the recovery, but as it, thankfully, turns out, I really had nothing to be worried about.
I put my ‘foobs’ (fake boobs) in the safe hands of Dr Mark Lee. My prophylactic right breast mastectomy was in the safe surgical hands of my breast surgeon, Corinne Jones. Corinne and Mark would work together to perform the surgery, which it was anticipated would take 3 to 4 hours.
I saw Mark the night before my surgery and he draw his surgical markings on me. I then checked myself in to hospital to get ready for the surgery. I was wheeled in to theatre at about 7.15am the next morning and about three hours later, I was in recovery. In between, Corinne removed my right breast and Mark then performed a breast reconstruction using my lat dorsi muscle. Once he had dissected that muscle and used it to form a shelf for my new foobs, tissue expanders were inserted and stage 1 of the reconstruction was complete.
An excellent pain pump (which pumped me with fentanyl) ensured that I really wasn’t in any pain for the first few days. Nerve blockers and oral pain killers have taken care of me since then. As always, the care of the nurses at St John of God was wonderful. And, I was lucky to have my family visiting and bringing me (edible) food. They also filled my room with beautiful blooms, which brightened my abode right up.
I’m now two weeks post surgery and recovering well at home. I’m still bruised on my left side (my radiated tissue and muscles didn’t play quite as nicely as everyone might have like during surgery), a little sore and I’ve got restricted movement. I still can’t drive, but I’ve just started going on walks again and I’m looking forward to these very foreign lumps on my chest starting to feel a little more normal. In that regard, I must say, these reconstructed boobs (foobs) really do feel very strange. It’s kind of like someone strapped two rocks into a very tight bra on my chest and told me to carry on as normal. I have been told that after surgery 2 it’ll all feel softer and more normal. In the meantime, I’m going to be expanding my foobs using a little remote control to get them to a desirable size… watch this space. I pick up the remote on Thursday.
Just before I was going to publish this post, I took a little insta break. As I scrolled through my feed I saw a post by a friend I’ve made in the support group I attend at Breast Cancer Care WA (_justpeachey). The post was about another one of the young women in the group, Jess. Jess is 30 and has two kids. She always sticks in my mind because she bravely decided to have a double mastectomy without reconstruction. And just at the end of last year she got a new job and felt like her life was back on track. Then, earlier this year her cancer returned. Metastasized to her brain. I can tell you right now, it’s every breast cancer survivors biggest fear/ nightmare that the cancer will metastasize. There is no cure for metastatic breast cancer. My heart breaks for Jess and her family. If you have a spare dollar or two, you can donate here (and read her story) to ease the financial strain on Jess’s family. Please keep Jess and her family in your prayers, her oncologist has said she’s only got months to live.
I thought long and hard about whether to bring Jess’s story up in this post. But with the news of Olivia Newton John’s cancer metastasizing recently, I thought it was only right to do so. Breast cancer is a shitty cancer. We can be positive, exercise, eat well, do all the right things and that may still not be enough. This disease isn’t all pink ribbons and fake books. If it returns and metastasises, it is a killer. And in my opinion the more research dollars we can pour into understanding how to cure metastastic breast cancer the better. That way, we can have conversations about survival rates beyond five years and take this very real fear off the plate of breast cancer survivors.
It’s a long weekend here in Perth. I’m planning to spend some time outside and soak up the sunshine. Bon weekend to you all.