Saturday, 5 January 2013

Big Breast, Little Breast, Real Breast, Prosthetic Breast - that my dears is the question.

Please note my blog page has moved to Wordpress, you can find me on: WWW.PAMMENTERYOUNG.COM (You must clear anything else that pops up after that - like or for it to go to the correct site.  If you see a RED BANNER, then you know you are on the correct new site.)

I am 25% of the way through my radiation treatments and have started to research more around the surgery that was recommended to me.  As it turns out I should have looked into this in more detail a while ago.

The surgery recommended to me was a TRAM flap reconstruction.  This surgery involves removing skin and tissue from the abdominal area, as well as dissecting the transverse rectus abdominus muscle, turning it around and feeding it up under the tissue to the area where the surgeon will create the new breast.  Initially this sounded like a good option to me because I would avoid having an implant, was using all my natural tissue, and part of the procedure would provide for a free tummy tuck LOL!

Upon further research and speaking to patients who have had this surgery I have learned, that this surgery is considered archaic, is too hard on the woman's body, has a long recovery time and in most cases leaves the abdominal area permanently weakened affecting physical activity for life.  Having been relatively active my entire life, the thought of not being able to do flips off the diving board, swing a golf club or hop on my bike for a ride at any time, does not please me.  Also, if this procedure is no longer being recommended by reputable US Clinics, such as John Hopkins and The Center for Restorative Breast Surgery, why is it still being recommended here?  So, I did my research and found that most facilities are recommending DIEP Flap reconstruction instead.  It is considered less invasive, the recovery time is shorter and the risk of complications is lower.

Alright, this sounds like a plan for me, so now to find a surgeon who can do that.  Here in lies the problem.  There is only one surgeon in my area who can perform this surgery, and because this surgery takes up to eight hours, she can only do about five of them per week, if that, which means she has a long wait list.  Big problem!  My cancer cannot stay in my body.  A month after radiation, the surgery is meant to occur and the cancer removed, that means removing my entire right breast and many lymph nodes from both my underarm and clavicle area.  From what I have been told, this surgeon would not be available to do the reconstruction until at least September, possibly October or November.  What do I do?

Do I go for six months without a breast?  Do I forgo a good procedure for an older more traumatic one to "get it done"?  Can I go to another province for the surgery?  Will BC Med pay for me to get the surgery done at one of the clinics in the US?  Do I go with implant surgery, which means tissue extenders and a three month delay before the implant is installed?  I'm stumped, I just don't know which way to go.  My goals are:

To have a quick recovery with few complications
To maintain an active lifestyle after surgery
To have minimal scarring
To have a natural looking breast that closely matches my other one.

So, if any of you reading this are in the health care profession, have gone through any of the procedures yourself, or know of a good resource to help with this decision, I would appreciate you reaching out to me either via a comment to this post, or an email on my Facebook Page.  I need to make a decision fairly quickly here so I can get rid of this beast once and for all!!!!!

Please keep me abreast!

Ta Ta


Catherine Gurka said...

Hi Michelle:

I just recently found your blog through Ann Marie Otis' Stupid Dumb Breast Cancer FB page, and I have been staying up late reading your story. You have been through so, so much, and I am very sorry to read about all you've had to endure.

I was diagnosed with very early DCIS in May 2012(got the news over the phone from my gyn)and elected to have a bilateral mastectomy in June with immediate reconstruction. Is immediate recon an option for you? I had the surgery on Tuesday and was home the next day. I chose saline implants over silicone because of the problems in the past with silicone (although I hear silicone has come a long way, I still didn't like the thought of it in my body). Should the saline leak (very, very unlikely), it will just get reabsorbed by my body. With silicone implants, I would have needed an MRI every three years to check for leaks. I'm happy with my implants except they are a tiny bit bigger than I wanted. I've heard silicone is more "natural" feeling than saline, however, but can be very cold.

My friend had the flap surgery (not sure which type), and she had a very long recovery. She told me she has gained weight since the surgery and so the tissue removed from her abdomen that was molded into her breasts has also become much larger. Her sister had the expanders and said they were pretty painful.

If immediate recon is an option for you, you could get an implant and avoid the painful expanders and the long drawn out wait for your "fills."

I hope this helps you. I am sending you many healing hugs from Syracuse, NY!


Catherine Gurka

Unknown said...

Hi Catherine,

Thanks for your comment. I'm sorry to hear about your diagnosis this past May. It sounds like your surgery was quite successful. I do believe immediate reconstruction is fine for me, the problem is that I won't have any skin to use as mine all needs to be removed due to IBC being in the skin as well, so that means tissue extenders, which will take time. I was wondering if they could use abdominal tissue for implants. Have you ever heard of that?

Again, thanks for reaching out, and please share my blog page.

All the best.

Post a comment

Back to top!