Dancer got her last “blow job” as my Mother calls them (in innocence I might add) in Vincent’s last Thursday and I was so glad it was the last one. Felt like another stage of this cancer gig was over for me. I put everything in stages helps me get through things, should have been a coach driver
- Diagnosis – Done
- Scans, Tests and Lymph Node Operation – Done
- Chemo – Done
- Mastectomy – Done
- Radiation – Done
- Reconstruction - Nearly Done
The reconstruction stage I have to admit was very hard for me. The first four “pumps” were fine (for those joining the blog a pump is when I get saline pumped into my new chest to expand the skin to allow for implant) and no bother at all. After the fifth pump I have to say it was the most painful of all times during this cancer gig. I left the hospital to drive home I could hardly move the steering wheel, then of course I had no petrol had to stop took me ages to get out of the car. I managed to make it home and flopped on couch and couldn’t move and was really painful to walk. The pain was like a piercing pain in my chest, it’s the first time I can say I cried from pain, the pain went all through my chest, my back and down my arms. It took me nearly a week to feel normal again. Thankfully a friend of mine Michelle went through the same process and she told me that one of her pumps were like this as well so then I wasn’t as worried. I called the hospital and they said I could come back in and get some saline taken out, but to me that was going in reverse and decided to put up with the pain. (a bit like Man Flu I persevered without complaint) What goes out has to go back in again
My Plastic surgeon is a wonderful, wonderful lady and she reads my blog so I am going to be extra nice to her and hopefully she will take an extra bit of fat from my tummy when I am under the knife It was explained that as I had radiation this is one of the causes that it is painful for me as my “new” chest is so high up (honestly any closer to me ear I would be wearing it as an earring). My Doctor also said I could get saline taken out but I didn’t want that. We decided the next two pumps we would go in half measures and only 30ml at each time. The next two were still very uncomfortable but nothing like the pain of the other one. So now its finished and I have roughly 400ml of saline in my right chest this is enough (hopefully) to have expanded my skin enough to put in the implant. We are going for a C Cup (a little smaller than what I was ) so that’s why I persevered with the pumps as in my mind if I went back in and got saline taken out that would make my boob a little bit smaller. Remember I am no medic I am sure what I thought was a load of crap but that’s how I figured it out.
My Plastic Surgeon described how in surgery they will take my “tissue expander” out and replace it with an implant. To fill out the boob and get it as “natural” looking as possible they will be needing some “polyfilla” to shape it. This is taken by liposuction from fat in my tummy and there is plenty there. I said please feel free to hoover out as much as you can, she laughed saying that wasn’t the first time she had heard that. Then Floppy Fiona will be reduced and “hoisted up” to meet my new boob. So I suppose my boobs will be where they were when I started getting boobs over 30 years ago. Isn’t science amazing!
I went to a conference recently on Plastic Surgery for breast reconstruction and it was really interesting to hear. Speaking there was Dr Catriona Lawlor and Dr Morrison from St Vincent’s who informed of all the options there are. One thing to remember for any of you ladies that unfortunately might be starting your breast cancer journey, is that reconstruction is there for EVERYONE even if you lost a boob 10/15 years ago the option is still there for you. Plastic surgery is covered under the public health system (yes the one where we pay a fortune in taxes to uphold). If you would like to find out more information in relation to options for breast reconstruction you may like to read this document
What does a new boob mean to me? I never for a nano second thought of not having reconstruction surgery, its important to me as a woman, as a mother and to forget cancer in the future by being reminded of a big hollow crater in my chest when I look in the mirror. Only 20% of women opt for reconstruction and maybe the figure is so low as women don’t know their options. Therefore if going through this get in touch with your Breast Cancer nurses and talk to them about your options. Some ladies don’t feel like going through getting it done and of course that is their decision, I feel I have a lot of living left to do and I want to do that with two boobs.
I just want to let people know that the way I opted for my reconstruction was my doing, I was informed that because I had radiation that usually they do not start this process till around 6 months after so your body has time to heal. Of course I was having none of it saying I would take my chances and I was very pig-headed, determined and stubborn as I wanted a new Boob as soon as possible. So for any of your ladies going down the tissue expander route that did not have radiation, having pump ups is not painful to most people, I know at least four of my new cancer chickie friends who have had it done without any problem whatsoever. Hindsight…….. ah wish I could bottle it and sell it for Christmas would make a fortune, in hindsight I should have let my body recover from radiation and then start the reconstruction process. However on the other hand the rough time is over now and hopefully will have my new boobies for Christmas.
It’s quite uncomfortable to wear a bra at the moment so usually take it off when at home, I was doing up the tie of my six-year-old Beca on the way to school the other day and only had on a small t-shirt. “Mammy” she said “Oh My God you have one boob way down there and one boob way up there” – couldn’t have said it better myself. I told her by the time Santy comes hopefully they will be in the middle
So I am ready and cant wait to get on that surgeons table in two weeks, six days time (not that I am counting). I would say I will be pretty tender after the operation and will have to take it easy for a week or two so better get ahead with my Crimbo shopping. So friends the gates are open again to drop in lovely food and wine to me. Also feel free to drop in some new bras. A friend of mine Kerensa has this cool thing in her garden like a whole line of bras, anytime she has a party friends leave their bras and she knots them all together like a tent – so reckon I must pop down and donate mine.
On another note I was asked by IBM recently to do a talk to their staff on Breast Cancer which I gladly accepted. I went there on Tuesday and did two sessions with staff where I had to talk for 45 mins, firstly I was thinking Jesus that’s a hell of a long time but had to rush the end of if as could have talked for at least another 30 minutes or so. I really enjoyed doing the talk and telling my story and I think they enjoyed it too. From the law of averages around 4-6 women from that group will unfortunately develop breast cancer so I am hoping my early detection part of the talk goes heeded and the ladies will go and get their breast checked by their doctor.
Okay now I want something from all of you. Can you do me a favour, a promise you are making to me (only between the two of us ), next time you are down in the doctors ask him/her to check your breast, you pay €60 a visit so you might as well get it done. I had a “dawning” the other morning, something that never entered my mind before (or maybe I didn’t want my mind to think about it), but if I am being totally honest with myself if I had gone to the doctor sooner I may have saved my breast or at least the cancer would not have started to travel. I don’t want to hear anyone ever ever saying to me “oh I know I should” or “I must do” – ladies I want a NIKE – Just Do It. I was one of those people thinking I should do it, should get the lump checked but was too busy and thousand other pathetic excuses.
JESUS CHRIST FOLKS IT NEARLY FUCKING KILLED ME!!
I will be setting up a Boob Check monitor in the next couple of weeks, I know a lot of you have got checked recently and hopefully more of you will. Could you PM me on Facebook and let me know if you have so I can count you on my Boob Counter. I’m on a mission folks to try to make sure as few of you as possible have to go through the trauma and pain of what I have done over the last year. Ranting over….. I am not on a crusade I just love you all
My daughter Maggie (10) got the Best Poem of the Week by her teacher and the teacher read it out to the class. Very proud of her and it will be published in Irish Parent Magazine along with her photo – she is chuffed!!!
Good things that have happened recently
- My lovely nephew Paddy got christened – lovely day
- My chemo buddy Mary from Bray finished all treatment and got the all clear
- My friend Marie finished Radiation – big whoop!
- My sister got her second mammogram since I have been diagnosed and was all clear
- I got six monthly breast check up at hospital and they were happy all is well
- My friend Karen is back up on her feet after long illness
- Had a lovely visit from friends in Sweden (Mike, Birgitta and Victoria) lovely weekend
A lovely old friend of mine passed away this week from bastard cancer. Bren was such a character, full of craic and cheer and left us too early. This is for you Bren