The purpose of the surgery was to 1) re-do fat grafting on my left side, since the radiation has made that area continue to tighten and shrink up, 2) cut scar tissue out from underneath my left arm and 3) nipple reconstruction.
Why do I find it so uncomfortable to talk about nipple reconstruction? Some of my new friends in my Survivor group call mastectomy boobs, "Barbie boobs". Barbie didn't have nipples and she is supposed to be the idea of perfection. Or mannequin boobs - also nipple-free.
So this is the order of things:
October 2011 - Double mastectomy, Stage 1 of reconstruction (tissue expanders)
|Remove 11 cm tumor from left side, 19 lymph nodes, 1 lymph node positive (post-chemo)|
The last stage is tattooing of the nipples. It will be my second set of tattoos, the first being my radiation tattoos. I wish I had something more bad-ass. "Oh, yes, I have three tattoos on my chest and am going to get two more." Not stupid cancer-related tattoos.
I am still taking Tamoxifen everyday, which is my estrogen-blocking drug. If you look on Wikipedia, it uses the word "antagonist" to describe Tamoxifen. I know they are using the medical definition, but I feel this is very applicable because this drug ANTAGONIZES ME. It's annoying and gives me all sorts of side effects, typically reserved for menopause (hot flashes, mood swings, etc). I know I'm supposed to think it's fabulous and life-saving - and it is - but it's also an irritant.
There are many times during the day where I don't think about cancer and I don't think about its effects on my future. But when I continue to have surgeries and check-ups and daily prescriptions, it's not as easy to tuck it away. I try not to look "sick"and take great care in trying to get my appearance back to "normal" (actually pulling on my hair is not making it grow faster, but I'm trying Biotin and hopefully that will help). I've heard that five-ten years after the diagnosis, it really doesn't affect your day-to-day activities but when I start thinking about the doctor saying, "Your rate of recurrence without Tamoxifen is 60%; with Tamoxifen it's probably 30-40%". Hmm. That seems a bit higher than normal. Especially, when you consider:
The odds of getting struck by lightening: 1 in 1,110,000.
The odds of winning an Olympic gold medal: 1 in 662,000
The odds of finding out your child is a genius: 1 in 250
The odds of a woman getting breast cancer: 1 in 8
The odds of my cancer coming back: 1 in 3
Anyway, wish me luck on my nipple-caring process. Hopefully, I will be able to report on the success of two new little ladies in a few weeks!