After weeks of count down, the big day for my follow up surgery arrives tomorrow. I have to say it has been a bit of a struggle to keep my anxious mind calm as I head into it. I think last time I was worried about the unknown (“will they find cancer?”) and this time it is dreading the known downsides of my last surgery – needles, blood, pain, bandages, scars – all things I hate!
I know that this surgery is WAY less invasive than last time, but I’m really not looking forward to revisiting ANY of the trauma of it again. So I have been piling on the soothing rituals, speaking gently to myself and visualizing a positive outcome – a smooth surgery and a quick and easy recovery.
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.
Eight 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!
Seven 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.
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.
It’s now almost five months since my surgery, so this is an update for those women who want to know more about this “muscle sparing TRAM” reconstruction procedure that I’ve had, following my preventative double mastectomy. I figure this is the type of info I would have liked pre-surgery and it’s reassuring to be able to compare notes with others during recovery too, so here it is …
Anna, me and Paula at the Christmas table
Hope this finds everyone happy with their Christmas celebrations. We had a lovely time, joined by my two sisters, Anna and Paula. And of course, Martha and Lou were watching over all of us, wherever we happened to be!
On Christmas night I was so exhausted, it felt like a wave of fatigue had hit me like a truck! Clearly I’m still not up for a lot of running around and it was another reminder post surgery that “it ain’t over yet!” I went to see James, my surgeon last Friday for a final check up, and he reinforced this too. Continue reading
Me in intensive care post surgery – v attractive!
I read another woman’s blog the other day who had the same surgery as me, and she asked her husband how he felt about her surgery, a few months down the track. So, sixteen weeks on, and mainly for others who are contemplating the same path, I thought I would put a few questions to my husband too, to give his viewpoint on these past few months:
This time twelve weeks ago, I was still under anesthetic, part way through my L-O-N-G surgery and today officially marks the end of the recuperation period. Thank God for that! I am so bored of thinking about this topic that has been top of mind for almost all of this year.
To be honest, it’s not really “over”, there is still more healing to go. My scars have gone from red to plum and I suppose it will be a long time until they fade to match the rest of my skin. My stomach is numb from navel to scar line, and feels hard and way too tight (still) and my core strength has a long way to go. My breasts are solid mounds of numbness which is very strange, but they have softened up a bit since the surgery, so will just keep the faith that there’s LOTS more progress and healing yet to come there. I’ve also braved my first post surgery bra shop on the weekend, which was not as confronting as I’d expected (Rose at my local lingerie store was very helpful and reassuring – so I do recommend her to anyone in the same boat.) Another milestone ticked off!
I’ve now passed the ten week mark since my surgery. I have to say I am really getting so bored of even thinking about my body. (So I am sure many of you are bored of hearing about it!) I’m hoping soon to post about things other than my bosoms! Suffice to say, I am on the right track, but for those who are reading this to know what they might expect from a similar surgery, here’s the update: