Breast cancer took my left breast in January 2012. I made the decision to start reconstruction immediately, but immediate construction with implants is a misnomer. My road to reconstruction started with the mastectomy in January. Here it is late August 2012 and things are not complete. Getting back to normal is a very long process.
The decision to have a mastectomy was when I made the decision to reconstruct. Prior to making my decision, I had a very lengthy discussion with an oncology surgeon and a plastic surgeon. It was a decision not entered into lightly. Once I decided on a mastectomy, how and when to reconstruct my breast was the next decision.
Deciding to reconstruct left me with several major decisions. The first was if I wanted reconstruction to begin immediately or if I wanted to wait. I did not want to wait any longer than necessary. That was a no-brainer.
Next decision--how to reconstruct. I had two options available to me. The first was immediate reconstruction using muscle and tissue from my abdomen. This is called a tram-flap. Some people refer to it as a tummy-tuck, because you are left with a flat abdomen, but this is very different than a cosmetic tummy-tuck procedure. With a tram-flap my recovery time was significant--too long for my liking. That left me with the only other option--implants.
I did not have to make an immediate decision on the type of implant I wanted. Choices are either saline or silicone. Being I wanted reconstruction to start immediately, a tissue expander was placed between the pectoral muscles at the time of my mastectomy. The expander would be filled at regular intervals until we reached the desired size. Then an implant would be put in place.
During the filling stage I was undergoing chemotherapy. I had lots of issues from chemo but the expander is extremely uncomfortable. As we progressed with the fills, it become increasingly more annoying and sometimes painful. The expander is currently pushing against my ribs and sometimes it feels like someone is twisting my ribs with a pair of pliers.
My last fill was in May 2012. Finally, I am cleared for surgery. In September, I get my implants. We decided to do a lift and have an implant on the other side. This will give me symmetry, something that I currently lack.
Nine months is a long time to wait for my looks to return to something that resembles normal. This is the first time in my life that I am actually looking forward to surgery. It is an outpatient process with a relatively short recovery. Finally, there is light at the end of the tunnel.
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