I’m slowly coming to terms with this week’s development and loss. I really have been quite sad and rattled by losing my nipple. For the first time I’ve thought “enough already!” I think this is just about my tipping point, so I’m looking after myself so as I don’t go over the edge! I’ve had a number of cathartic long cries, done a bit of colourful drawing and received a few comforting hugs for good measure. I’m not happy about it but I will deal with it.
I went back to see James, my surgeon on Tuesday. As always, he was cheerful, encouraging and unflappable. (He is so the right doctor for me!) He explained that in the reconstruction, the new blood supply comes from the side of the breasts, rather than all throughout the breast as it does for a natural breast, so now the blood has further to travel to get all the way to the nipples. Occasionally the nipple’s blood supply can become compromised and it turns black and dies, as it has done for mine in the last week or so. So sad for me – I was doing so well! But I know that there can be much more challenging complications than mine, so will be grateful that mine is just a – v personal! – bump in the road.
And I’ve been thinking about the number of times that Martha had cancer recurrences over the ten year period, and that keeps it in perspective. I don’t know how she ever just kept on going, let alone kept on being her bubbly self, with every new tumor or cancer progression. I once bought her a card with this proverb on it, because it so reminded me of her – not that she needed to be told, she just always kept going (following some good honest cries when the going just became too much!)
Anyway, the black bit has been now been removed and a light band aid is helping the remaining small wound heal up. I’ll be back to see James in six weeks, pre Christmas. He is such a reassuring man – nothing is a drama. He assures me that he can fix any poorly healed scars and can even up the appearance of my nipples, if I want to do that, at a later stage when this is all healed up. I have a silicon dressing to cover the breast scars at night to help the healing for the next six months (!! … feels like this is going on forever!), but otherwise it’s all good. No follow up surgery for at least 12 months, to allow everything to settle. I will be VERY happy never to go near a hospital again in my life but will see how I feel down the track …
And the other very good news is that I don’t have to wear a binder or mastectomy bra anymore – they can go straight in the bin! Especially that binder, I was really over that!
Meantime I’m comforting myself with cups of tea, chocolate and comfy singlets til I get brave enough to go and get fitted for my new bra size. Trusting I will find a nice comforting bra fitter lady and not cry too much on her! It makes me tear up every time I think about showing someone the damage so it that little excursion can wait a bit I think!
Anyway, I’m moving gently forward, and feeling physically much better. I feel like I am in the home straight at last. Not running along it, but walking at a reasonable pace (not hobbling like the little old lady that I was!) I’m almost off all pain relief pills in the day now too – hooray for that. My stomach feels really tight and solid, especially along the scar line and the sensation is slowly (very slowly!) coming back. My breasts feel better than they have, but I’m not too thrilled with the scarred appearance at this point. That’s all a bit sad. But I am so grateful that I’ve not had to endure the full cancer treatment regimen. I know they will heal up and look better than they do. Yes time heals all wounds, even the most sensitive and feminine ones!
Many thanks to all of you gorgeous people who have sent me texts/emails/phone calls of support in recent days – you know who you are! Much appreciated. One day we will look back and laugh … well, maybe not laugh, but at least not cry!