The healing continues …

IMG_2208.jpgIt’s now two and a half years since my first surgery. Time for an update on my body’s healing process. I feel like long time readers of my blog must be thinking, “Isn’t she over all of that YET?!” Don’t worry, I feel like that too! One day I hope there will be nothing to report on my body front.

One of the main reasons I set up this blog was to share my story with those who may be contemplating, or travelling, a similar path, and to help those around them to understand what it is like to have this surgery. What I’d mainly like people to know (and what I wish I’d known myself!) is that it just takes a really long time to heal. It DOES get better, very slowly but surely. And there are things you can do to ensure you heal as best you can.

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Time heals

black daisiesTwo years today since my double mastectomy and breast reconstruction surgery, so this is just a quick post on how my body is feeling now.

Overall, I have to say, I feel progress is being made. Very slowly, but very surely! My breasts feel much better. Fewer twinges, not so heavy and feel much softer – almost like the real deal! From the outside, you can barely see any breast scars and I am really pleased with the shape (thank you James!) The internal scarring and stiffness in my abdominal area is also improving. Continue reading

How does it feel? – from the inside, looking out

Elle Magazine - USA - June 2015

Elle Magazine – USA – June 2015

This is a post to mark one year since my second reconstructive breast surgery in June last year. I wasn’t going to post anything at all, since there is not much change to report with my body, other than the continuing VERY slow progress of healing. I’m determined that it’s not finished yet, but we will see!

However, today I was reading a great series of articles in the June 2015 USA edition of Elle magazine about women and their breasts and how they feel about them – whether healthy, not healthy, big, small, happy, unhappy or an assortment of other feelings. If you are reading my blog because of your interest in my breast surgery, or someone close to you, then it is worth tracking down the issue.

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Life goes on …

life goes on frangipani JPEGTwelve months today since my first, 12 hour surgery and I have to say I am quite pleased with myself to be crossing this “finishing line”! It’s not really the finish – I’d say I’m about 85% healed. It’s a long slow recovery, but I’m getting there.

So, just to mark the occasion, and for reference by others contemplating or comparing surgery results a year down the track, here’s how it feels for me. (I really am quite bored of this topic by now, so apologies to those who are totally over it too!).

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Eleven months on – lessons learned

photo[9]For those of you wondering, here’s how I’m faring 11 months after the first surgery, and six weeks after the second….

Mainly, I am just so relieved to have the surgeries behind me now, and, best of all, no more ahead of me. I am so grateful that, while this whole experience has not been a pleasant one, at least I’m not unwell, or suffering a progressive, debilitating illness. I am done with surgery! The last of my bandages were removed this week, so that was a great milestone to pass. My breast shape looks really good (thank you James!) although, of course, they are still totally numb to me. But they look good, so that’s a plus! It really is a miracle of modern science and James’ talents to think that I have had every one of my original breast cells removed, and now have my abdominal tissue transplanted to look pretty much like the real deal! I have scars circling each nipple (or where my right nipple used to be anyway) and vertical ones from nipple to under bust, as well as along the base of both breasts. They are fairly clean, fine lines and I know they will fade. All good there. Continue reading

Body update – 9 months post surgery

photo[58]I just read this on a breast cancer website: “In Australia, around 5,000 women have a mastectomy every year, but only 6% to 12% of these go on to have reconstructions. This compares with 42% of women in the US and 16.5% in England.” It is thought that this is because when diagnosed with breast cancer, Australian women are not being as well informed and empowered about all of their treatment options.

I suppose that means I’m one of only 500 Australian women in the past year that have had a mastectomy and reconstruction. A much smaller proportion had bilateral surgeries (on both breasts). And most reconstructions are done with implants, not a tissue transplant (TRAM or DIEP) as I have had so I am a rare breed! That being said, when you see the low rates of breast reconstruction in Australia, it makes sense that this rate is rising fast, as information and awareness improves, especially with the “Angelina effect” on preventative mastectomies.

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Slowly and steadily – we can rebuild!

butterfly w quote JPEGEight months today and counting since my surgery. Progress continues, slow and steady.

 

There have been no radical changes in the past month, but I do feel like I am inching along in the right direction. As well as taking the Gotu Kola capsules daily, Bas, the lovely man who does my lymphatic drainage massages, is also a naturopath and has made me up an ointment with Gotu Kola, Vitamin E, zinc and primrose oil in it. It seems like my scars are slowly fading with twice daily applications of that. While I am still very conscious every day of my uncomfortable stiff, numb stomach and sensationless but softening breasts, it feels like my old body is becoming accustomed to the new bits. The old is accepting and integrating with the new!

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My left breast

be soft JPEGSeven months today and counting since I’ve had my surgery… I’m really looking forward to the time when there is nothing more to report! In the past month my healing progress has continued to inch along in the right direction. I think I am only at about 80% of my usual energy levels, which is an improvement, but still frustrating! On the downside, the whole area is still pretty numb. That’s no fun. It still feels quite stiff and uncomfortable too.

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Back in the saddle

Holly & Sarah Jan 2014

Me with our daughter, Holly

Today it is six months since my surgery, and next week it will be a year that I have been living every day with my breast removal and reconstruction on my mind. What a long, slow recovery it has been, and still is. I am so over it! As you read this I will be winging my way to the USA with my friend Louise for a trip we booked some time ago. When we booked it, I thought the breast surgery would be a distant memory for me, and this would be a nice little reward for a long finished chapter. Not so! I think this is more a pit stop on the long haul journey! However, the worst is behind me so I am certainly celebrating that.

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A touch of the miraculous …

pre & post lymphatic dr 02 14 JPEG

This is just a quick post for my breast surgery followers … I want to share the GOOD news about some treatments that seem to be working for me.

Firstly, the lymphatic drainage massage is really working! Take a look at the (v glamorous – not!) pic of me this morning, compared to just over three weeks ago – see how my distended belly  has deflated? Not so “barrel like” any more. It is still stiff – it feels like someone has embedded a small Frisbee in my lower abdomen and stitched it back up again sometimes – but that horrible stretched feeling, that I’ve had for months now, has gone in just a few short weeks. Hooray for lymphatic drainage massages, and the lovely man, Bas, who does mine. I really feel like it has made a big difference in a short space of time. I will be continuing to have this treatment every few weeks for most of this year, just to keep it all flowing. And hopefully the treatment will break up the scar tissue internally too, which will stop it feeling so stiff and uncomfortable. We are off to a good start!

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