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Rachel, Los Angeles, CA - blogger at Ticking Time Bombs

 

WHAT TYPE OF MASTECTOMY DID YOU HAVE?

Prophylactic double mastectomy.

WHAT TYPE OF RECONSTRUCTION DID YOU CHOOSE AND WHAT WAS THE PROCESS LIKE?

I had expander to implant reconstruction. My tissue expanders were placed immediately following my mastectomy surgery, with a couple hundred CCs of saline in them. About 1.5 months after my mastectomy, my left tissue expander became infected. We tried to save it with heavy doses of IV antibiotics, but the infection was too far along, so the tissue expander was removed for three months. Once it was replaced, my expander fills continued. I eventually swapped my tissue expanders out for 800 CC silicone implants. Two months following my implant exchange surgery, I had another "cosmetic" surgery, where my plastic surgeon did some adjustments to even out the shape of my breasts and to match the nipple height.

ARE YOU HAPPY WITH THE WAY YOU LOOK

Yes! I am very happy with my "new normal" and honestly rarely think about my implants except in a positive way. Right now, for example, as I type this, I'm wearing a dress with a really cute lace back. Before my mastectomy, I would have to wear a bra with it and it would look ugly. But now I am wearing just pasties and it looks great! My new breasts are perky and don't require as much support as the "old ones" did. The only downside is that my nipples are much more prominent than before, so I often experience the headlight sensation without realizing it. But again, it's not anything that silicone pasties can't fix.

Read more from Rachel at Ticking Time Bombs blog



Kim, Philadelphia, PA - email: smitten0022@yahoo.com

 

WHAT TYPE OF MASTECTOMY DID YOU HAVE?

I had a radical mastectomy.

WHAT TYPE OF RECONSTRUCTION DID YOU CHOOSE AND WHAT WAS THE PROCESS LIKE?

On 9/9/09 after my diagnosis weeks before, I decided on getting the TramFlap procedure after researching it. I had great surgeons, but I wish someone had told me to get the reconstruction done AFTER chemotherapy and radiation, as treatment can interfere with proper healing. Thus, I had multiple surgeries on my reconstruction due to scar tissue forming which was uncomfortable and sometimes painful. Also initially one side of my abdominal area would protrude out whereas initially it was flat, as tram flap they take fat from the tummy so you get a tummy tuck actually. Turns out my mesh that was placed inside got infected which caused the protrusion and later hernia, it wasn't great from 2009-2014. Only this year in late May I finally was ready to try again, and had surgery this time with another surgeon to repair what was making me hide myself, I wasn't happy with my breast being lopsided nor my tummy not looking attractive.

ARE YOU HAPPY WITH THE WAY YOU LOOK

Happy to say that with a silicone implant and some light lipo that the fat was removed and placed into my boobs I'm good now. I've had no issues and I wore a bikini top this summer and was thrilled that I now match evenly and feel like my old self, new and improved even. Although I have scars I carry them proudly as I kicked Cancer in the tush, it didn't get the best of me. Now that isn't to say that there aren't days when I don't get depressed about what once was, but I am actively forcing myself to leave the past of who and what I was and looked like in my rearview mirror.

WHAT HAS CANCER TAUGHT YOU?

It has taught me several things: you'll find out who your friends are when you're facing adversity, that your faith and sense of humor will save your life, and you find your true strength when you dig deep.

Read more from Kim at HotLikeFireLivingWithAdvancedBreastCancer



Molly, Laguna Beach, CA


WHAT TYPE OF MASTECTOMY DID YOU HAVE?

I had a double. Cancer only in one breast, but a 25% chance of getting cancer in the other, so I removed both. Ten days after I found out I had cancer, my breasts were gone.

My children were young. I wanted to be aggressive. I also didn't like the way the breasts looked so different, one from the other, when there was one original and one implant.

WHAT TYPE OF RECONSTRUCTION DID YOU CHOOSE AND WHAT WAS THE PROCESS LIKE?

I had a very positive experience because I had such good physicians. I've met too many women that have suffered at the hands of people that should not be allowed to practice medicine. My oncologist surgeon was Dr. Lisa Curcio and my plastic surgeon was Dr. Allen Doezie. Can't say enough about them. Professional to the nth degree. My advice to women that will undergo a mastectomy... do your homework. Call women that have used that surgeon. Ask to see the surgeons portfolio of clients. Just because they have an MD does not mean they are worthy.

ARE YOU HAPPY WITH THE WAY YOU LOOK?

Yes, even without my shirt on they look even and fairly realistic.

WHAT HAS CANCER TAUGHT YOU?

That I have not wasted my time. That my life has been beautiful, blessed. One can't help but ask when mortality is in question.... Have I used my time well? Have I been a good mother, wife, friend, daughter, sibling? I was relieved to discover I had few regrets.

Since my diagnoses I started a non-profit called Personal Ink. We offer healing tattoos to breast cancer survivors with mastectomy scars. Learn more at p-ink.org.

Peace.



Julia, San Francisco, CA


WHAT TYPE OF MASTECTOMY DID YOU HAVE?

I had a double mastectomy with reconstruction. It was a risk-reducing surgery, a choice I made almost three years ago now, as I have the BRCA-1 mutation, which put me at very high risk for both breast and ovarian cancer. Ovaries are step 2! Would make this decision again in a heartbeat.

WHAT TYPE OF RECONSTRUCTION DID YOU CHOOSE AND WHAT WAS THE PROCESS LIKE?

I chose to have a two step surgery (mastectomy with expander reconstruction) with ultimate silicone implants for the second surgery (they need to expand your chest muscle to make room for the implant). I also chose to get them underneath the muscle, and I chose a nipple-sparing surgery. I was fortunate enough to have the choice to do this, as I was in a situation where I was not diagnosed with cancer. What was the process like? Wow, where do I begin. I would be lying if I said it was easy. It was far from easy. The first surgery in particular was incredibly difficult. I had a lot of family and friend support to help me move around, but I was sore, uncomfortable and kind of in shock. I didn't sleep well for about 3 months. I felt like I had two aliens in my body and they wanted to get out! But, as I made it through the three month process to expand the muscle, the second surgery was very easy and went smoothly, and I was up and running a couple weeks after. My best piece of advice is to take it slow on the expansion, have the support that you need around you, and just keep a positive attitude. This whole affair has made me stronger and more aware of myself, and has pushed me to try things that I never thought I would do - like triathlons! If you are considering going through it, talk to other women. That helped me get through it all. And make sure to pick a set of physicians who you feel comfortable with - it makes a huge difference.

ARE YOU HAPPY WITH THE WAY YOU LOOK?

Well, like my doctor likes to say, the rest of me may significantly change by the time I am 70, but my breasts will look like they do now - perky, pretty and young. I don't have to wear a bra. My girlfriends are jealous. I'm very happy with them and my doctors at Cedar Sinai were amazing.

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Sandy in the t-shirt she designed: Yep they're paid for!