Today is a Happy Anniversary for me, the 2 year mark since I underwent the bilateral prophylactic mastectomy, a life changing day for me. I thank god that I had the strength to make such a decision. The year prior to the surgery was filled with doctors appointments, scans and blood work. The years prior to that were filled with biopsies and worry. Since I also had the DIEP flap procedure done at the same time, my surgery took over 14 hours and I spent 7 days in the hospital. The entire process took a total of three surgeries and several months to fully recover. I would say that it took about a year before I felt normal. I had numbness in my abdomen for a long time which was actually welcome after much pain.
I remember finally being released from the surgeons care many months after the BPM, walking to my car thinking both “wow” and “now what”? Strange right? Doctors became such a normal part of my life for so long that it was strange thinking about life after. For so long my entire life was associated with my “procedure” it became part of my identity.
I can not believe it has been two years since the surgery. I have not posted much over the last few months. I started this blog as a way to help me keep my thoughts straight as I prepared for and recovered from major surgery. As time has gone on I am not as sure as to what this will become. I have recently entered a political race for our local town council. I know that I do not want this sounding board to become anything political which is part of why I have stayed off of the pages. I also think there are already too many people posting about the day-to-day life of their children. For the moment I will stay in the background posting from time to time.
Things that I learned through the process, never look back! Make a decision and only look forward, trust in yourself that you made the right decision. Especially with my pathology findings of lobular carcinoma in situ, had I waited another year or two….I can’t think about it and thankfully I did not! Sadly, I also learned that many of the people who I loved and counted on were not there for me or my family when we needed them most. A hurtful reality but one that we have accepted. I no longer waste my time trying to keep our circle any larger than those who truly want to be a part of it.
I enjoy my family more than ever before. There are some who do not understand and to be honest I do not spend too much time explaining myself. I hug my children tightly and kiss them everyday. I enjoy every minute I have with my family and I never pass up an opportunity to tell them how much I love them. To all of the women out there, get you mammograms regularly, talk with your doctor and never be afraid to ask questions!
As a pre teen many young girls with visions of the perfect cleavage will take matters into their own hands and add to the bounty that nature provides or in some cases fails to provide. My own young girls talk often of the day they will have boobs. Let’s be honest, in the view of society, they are the “visual” things that makes a woman. MIllions spent each year on the perfect bra, marketing telling every woman that is what makes you “sexy”.
For well over a year after the mastectomy and DIEP surgery, once I could finally wear a bra, I was limited to one that was padded. Even after a year of healing, scars can still cause a good amount of discomfort. As I would look in the mirror I felt like some teenager who was trying to increase what nature had provided. The difference here as we all know is that what nature provided to me had plans to attack. What I have instead is created by amazing plastic surgeons.
A few weeks ago I decided it was time. The perfect bra, no lining, no padding. For the first time in almost a year and a half I can look in the mirror and see only me. I am comfortable in my own skin. I am happy with the reflection in the mirror, other than the few pounds I could stand to lose 🙂 but hey who doesn’t right?
Everyday since July 2, 2012 there has been a “new” something. Since that date I have achieved many milestones. I remember first being able to finally sit up without assistance, and the first time walking around the block with the girls. There was lots of pain, many tears and worlds of relief knowing I made the right decision. This milestone may not seem like much to many but to me, it is about comfort and confidence and therefore huge. And shopping in VIctoria’s Secret again in pretty cool also 🙂
Today is a very special day for me. The sun is shinning, the sky is blue and the temperatures are low, the makings of a wonderful day. I got up early showered and did the normal morning routine. Next I prepared for yet another doctors appointment this time a follow-up to the endometrial ablation done July 19th. This may not sound very special but indeed the day truly is. Why you may ask?
The appointment went well, things seem to have gone well and all pathology benign thankfully. Good news for anyone leaving a doctor’s office but for me much more. See, for the first time in over 2 years I do not have the next surgery plans in the making. I do not even have a doctor’s appointment scheduled. I almost feel as if I am forgetting something since I have nothing to schedule or follow-up on. My life and my check book have been consumed for so long and now a breath of fresh air. Not so fresh for the check book yet as there are still outstanding bills but we are close.
When I say consumed I thought maybe a quick recap was in order:
June 2011 Needle guided ultrasound biopsy leads to full surgical biopsy due to abnormal results. More abnormal results found leading to the rest of the year spent with oncologists, genetic specialists, mammograms and breast MRI’s until decision finally made.
July 2, 2012 bilateral prophylactic mastectomy and DIEP flap reconstruction.
August 2012 Breast revision surgery
November 2012 Further reconstruction and revision. Also in November the ever interesting colonoscopy and the memorable first pelvic ultrasound.
January and March 2013 further pelvic ultrasounds leading to the ablation in July.
Doctors appointments, follow-up appointments, blood work, scans tests and calls. In between it all worry, pain, tears, looks of pity from others and stress on the family. This has been my life for more than two years. I will be honest, today I have felt a little out of sorts. I can not explain why. It is almost like the medical issues have “defined” me for much of the recent past. Maybe I am a bit reserved afraid that if I get too happy about it something bad will happen. I am sure it will pass…as the reality sets in, doctor free. I look forward to the future, with nothing planned except maybe a Disney trip!