It doesn’t matter how many people you speak to about breast surgery, the fact of the matter is, it is personal.
You will get people who will give you their input. They will tell you what they would do. What they think would be best.
“Don’t you just want it removed?” I need to.
“It’s better to get it out ASAP.” Yep, I guess you’re right.
“Get the implants. You’ll get a great pair of boobs.” I guess.
I would sit there in silence and let them talk. Let it settle. I knew people meant well. That it was coming from a good place, and I knew people cared. They cared so much. But sometimes I just wanted to scream.
I mean, I get it. Cancer is a disease. Who wants a disease to stay in them? You fight it. You do what you can to get rid of it. You find the right way.
“Until they are sitting in your seat opposite me, in this appointment, nobody will really know what to do.”
Katy summed it up well. I was the one that had to process the idea of no longer having a breast. My breast. Part of my body. My original piece! I knew I needed it removed; I knew it had to be done soon; I wasn’t really bothered about good new boobs. I just wanted to keep my ones!
The truth is, I’d never really cared for them before. They were sort of just there. But somehow, somewhere along the line, I was suddenly so protective. So obsessed with them; and with not letting anything go. There were options, I knew the options; but I was holding on to the idea of keeping everything as it was.
I’d been told surgery would be first. That the team didn’t know how much was invasive. The CT and bone scans had come back clear, but to finalise the treatment plan the surgery needed to happen, then chemo and radiotherapy would be reviewed after. They wanted to do the right thing. The mastectomy would need to happen as soon as I had made a decision.
I didn’t want an implant, I was adamant of it. I just wanted something that was natural. That would still be part of me. The compromise was to have the deep inferior epigastric perforator (DIEP) flap surgery.
Think of it as a tummy tuck and boob job in one go. A section of my tummy would be transferred to the left breast and rebuilt to create a new one. This would still be me! It would still be me! Yes the surgery would be longer; the recovery time would be longer, but I was ok with that. I could wait. This was my preference. I had my heart set on it.
“The DIEP surgery is a one time operation.” Is it?
“If you have it done for the left, but you do have the BRCA genes, you won’t be able
to reconstruct the second. There would be no body fat to use. It would be disproportionate or you’d need an implant.” Oh.
I’d taken the gene test. It would take a month to come back. The tumour had been there for at least a year so what was an extra month in the grand scheme of things. I could wait a month right?
The team was getting anxious, but to me, I was still catching up. My brain was about three weeks behind to everyone else, but I was ok with this pace. I was on the other end of the cancer patient spectrum, they said. The end that took a bit more time to decide. The one that really wanted the DIEP surgery.
“It has been a month since diagnosis.” Really? That long? Has it not just been two weeks?
I’d had so many back to back appointments, I’d lost track of time. It felt like the first mammogram was just yesterday. There was so much information, and now my brain was in meltdown mode. I didn’t know what to do.
And this, ladies and gentlemen; this is where you recognise the need to rely on the experts. This is where you lean on them to guide you. They present you options. They make sure you’re informed, but this is where you trust their judgement. Because THEY are the experts and YOU are the patient.
I wasn’t keeping my breast.
I wasn’t having the DIEP.
The plastic surgeon wasn’t comfortable operating without the gene test results.
I couldn’t wait for another month – Katy had already put a placeholder for surgery the following week.
I WOULD be having the implant.
I wanted to stick my head in the sand, and for everything to go away. I truly hated the situation. I hated this cancer that had come into my life. I hated that it would result in my body being cut open, and my breast to be replaced with a prosthesis. It made me feel like I would be less of who I am. The timing was too fast; but what could I do? Live another month with this tumour in my body? I had to trust the experts. I had no choice. I had to follow their recommendation.
This is where you realise that sometimes your wants simply do not match your needs.
You follow the experts because they are right. You realise the need to let go of being in control, because, quite frankly, there are some things you simply cannot control. And when you are comfortable with that; when you are comfortable with that realisation; then that is acceptance.