Tag Archives: breast surgeon

You need a mastectomy….

Three years ago today, I heard those words. I sat in a breast surgeon’s office and she walked me through my surgical options to remove cancer from one breast. The cancer was prominent enough that a lumpectomy was most likely not going to render clear margins, coupled with I would not look good at all cosmetically. The surgeon recommended a single mastectomy with reconstruction.

Devastating words. What should I do?

The morning after….

A  year ago yesterday, I spent the night in the hospital following my mastectomy. A year ago today at this time 6:30am I was lying awake in the hospital bed wondering what would I look like? When will the pain subside? What are my next steps in not only this experience but in life?

About an hour later my breast surgeon came to to take a look at me. As she unwrapped my bandages I said to her: “Can I look, should I look?”. She nodded her head yes. I made a comment that there was no mirror so all I could do was look down. And I remember EXACTLY my first words: “It doesn’t look so bad.” I looked down again: “It looks pretty good.” And from that moment on, I have never cried over how I was going to look or how I looked. To me, the tissue expander that was filled with a small amount of saline was fine. I kind of liked the smaller look of it. Even the surgeon said I looked pretty good.  Next my plastic surgeon came in and checked on me. She also said how good I looked. I know I was fortunate to have great surgeons. I am also fortunate that I heal well.

Today at this same time as I conclude writing this, I am heading out for my morning hike. The sun will be coming up, it will be cold out. I will have my music, my good health, my perfect bosom, and I will appreciate every moment of it.

To quote Winston Churchill: “When going through hell, keep going.”  I did, and now it’s onward and upward.

My recommended surgical option – a single mastectomy…..

One year ago today I met with a breast surgeon at Hoag Hospital.  Prior to Oct 30th, I hadn’t even known there was such a thing as a breast surgeon. The surgeon spent two hours with me explaining in detail my diagnosis, my surgical options and what was most likely going to be my treatment plan. She explained most everything in terms I could understand and even proceeded to draw/illustrate some things. She was warm and compassionate. I proceeded to cry through most of the consultation, and it didn’t go unnoticed that she had a box of tissue well within my grasp. I wonder how many women that day, that week, that year have sat in her office and cried.

She suggested I should consider a single mastectomy with reconstruction and why that would be my best surgical option given my “complicated” diagnosis. She explained to me all of my reconstruction options. She referred me to a plastic surgeon that she works frequently with but said I could choose whomever I like.

Sounds all fairly easy breezy, right? WRONG. I was devastated at the thought of a mastectomy. I only knew of a mastectomy as disfiguring based on stories and pictures I had heard and seen over the years on TV, internet, etc. I had never even heard of reconstruction. I told her my number one priority was how I was going to look. Yes, I did say that and meant it. I am young (well okay, youngish), live in So. Cal., I like to wear tank tops, go swimming, kayaking, etc., and I did not want my appearance to change for ANY reason. She showed me a lot of pictures of before and after reconstruction, and I’ll admit they looked good. She explained to me she was trained as an oncoplastic breast surgeon and explained what that meant. BUT, having never known anyone that had gone through this, I can’t say I really deep down believed her or the pictures.

I did not want to lose my breast. I went home and wailed. And wailed. And wailed.