4 years on – progress

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My art practise continues. I’ve taken up ceramics now too, and I love it!

I’ve hesitated about writing this post, because I think it might be boring for some long time readers. But then I think that maybe by reading it, it will help someone to make a decision about their options, or help someone to be better informed about what to expect in the healing process, so I’m writing this with them in mind.

4 years on from the first major surgery, here’s how my body is faring…. in a word, it is doing well! The pressure I’ve felt on my abdomen is way less, my torso no longer has that twisted feeling. It is much, much better! It does still feel slightly tight. I don’t have feeling on a good portion of my stomach or any part of my breasts. I can’t feel anything that touches those areas, but I can feel pressure. Maybe the healing happens from the inside out, so you can’t feel anything on the surface, but inside, new nerves are growing and mending. That’s what I hope anyway!

Appearance wise, the scars are well faded. You can still see them, but they are fine white lines. There are a few ridges around the scars but nothing too worrying. I still can’t wear a proper bra, as they feel too uncomfortable, so I stick to light crop tops or a maternity bra, which is softer than a regular bra. You can find some nice ones nowadays!

Other than that, my breasts look great, probably better than pre surgery. They are fuller and rounder than before, my stomach is flatter. I have helped the healing process along with regular exersize sessions with a personal trainer a couple of times a week this past 12 months. That has helped strengthen my core, regain flexibility and take off any excess weight. So, appearance wise, I am very happy with the outcome. My surgeon, James, did a fantastic job.

Would I make this choice again? Definitely. It’s hard but it’s worth it. I read on the weekend that some implants (perhaps only ones used for cosmetic breast surgery?) are causing cancer. I am relieved I don’t have to worry about any of those sorts of complications or future surgery. It always felt right for me to go with the option where I used my own tissue to rebuild my breasts. Others will make the decision that feels right to them. I am fortunate to have been able to afford the more invasive surgery too.

In an emotional sense, I am still coming to terms with all the other unexpected changes in my life. I don’t think I have any lingering or unresolved emotion about the surgery. If I ever start a new relationship, I am sure there will be a few “issues” in trusting someone, physically and emotionally again, but I’ll deal with that if and when it happens. It just takes time, and a willingness to deal with it all I suppose.

I love the new place where I live in Queensland. Every morning I wake up and say, “thank you God” for the peaceful, beautiful place I live. I love being able to hear the sounds of the waves outside my window. (Who knew it was so soothing?!) I miss seeing my children every day but they are well settled in new homes in Sydney with their friends (and loving it!). We see each other often with flights back and forth. I love having them to stay. It is great to spend good quality time with them and we stay well connected in between visits (hooray for the iphone!).

I am reading a book about a man who loses his girlfriend at the same time their first child is born, “In every moment we are still alive”. It speaks of another man who is asked, following the death of his son, “The grief you are feeling now, would you exchange it for never having known Johannes at all?” It is a good question to ask yourself after a loss I think. Would you take the pain away, if it meant never having had the experience of love in the first place? Better to have loved and lost, than never to have loved at all. True. The gain is worth the pain. I think that about my surgery too – very hard to do but WAY better than having cancer or living with the fear of it. Way better.

Sending love to all readers – those I know and those I don’t. If you are considering this surgery I send you special love. If you know someone about to go through it, or who has been through it, thank you for taking the time to learn about it. I hope it helps inform your decisions and expectations.

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

The body beautiful – 18 months on

FullSizeRender[1]I said I’d update on where I’m at with my healing progress six months ago, so here’s the latest on my post surgery body, 18 months after my double mastectomy and muscle sparing TRAM reconstruction surgery.

Overall, I’d say I’m progressing well. I’m still really conscious of my tight stomach and numb torso each day, but it is WAY better than it was. The stiffness is less, the discomfort is reduced, my general feeling of well being has much improved. Still a way to go, but I definitely feel like I am “getting there”.

I had my final check up with James, my plastic surgeon last week. He is really pleased with my physical progress. I didn’t expect to, but I cried when he asked me, sincerely and kindly, how I feel about the breast surgery now. It just brings up so much sadness for me. As James says, I’m healing well on the outside, but have a way to go on the inside.

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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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Letting go ….

photo[53]

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:

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WITH GRATITUDE …

begin each day with a grateful heart

Today marks two weeks since my surgery and my fourth day out of hospital. I have never been so glad to be home! I wasn’t really conscious of it while I was in there, but now that I’m home, the peaceful contrast is amazing – it is so noisy in hospital! Trolleys clattering past, people chatting in the hallways, let alone the incessant parade of people in and out of my room with meals, blood pressure and temperature checks, medication deliveries, injections, wound dressing changes, cleaners, surgeon’s visits etc etc etc going on every hour of the day (and much of the night too!). So it is wonderful to be home, back in my own quiet space, relishing every little thing like being able to have a cup of tea in my own familiar cup – heaven!

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Drum roll …. we have departed!!

Yeah!!! Hooray for being out in Sydney sunshine. Thank you St V’s!! 😊😊😊

OPERATION COMPLETE

Sarah emerged from surgery at 10pm tonight, after 12 hours on the operating table. I saw her at about 1030, just as she was starting to waken from the anaesthetic. She was in quite a lot of pain and discomfort but after about half an hour of adjusting morphine and panadeine levels and organising some dry mouth relief and the oxygen feed, she was much more settled when I left at about midnight. There are wires and drips everywhere and she is going to be waken through the night for ongoing but critical tests. The doctor is very pleased with the result of the surgery and at this stage there are no complications (not expecting any, but still very early days!). Sarah’s sister Anna was by her bed which made Sarah very happy – so thanks Anna for being there for her! Day 2 tomorrow…

Thanks for all your love

AAll-You-Need-Is-Love

Thanks so much for all of your love and good wishes in the last day or so. I really do appreciate it so much. Still can’t quite believe it is happening but I suppose I will have accepted it by the time I get on to that hospital trolley.

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