Reconstruction

May 21

For the 6% of you who are hoping I’m going to discuss post-Civil War politics in the U.S., you are going to be sorely disappointed.

I’m talking reconstruction, as in breast reconstruction.

Let me first clear up the misconception that reconstruction after breast cancer equals a boob job.  No, people–not the same.  There are lots of reasons it’s different.  Consider building your dream home; you have to work within the lot you own, but you can do what you want with the house–that’s a breast augmentation, or boob job.  Next consider restoring a building after a fire, but you can’t use any traditional materials and you have to keep the original floor plan–that’s breast reconstruction.  The former is ideally designed, the latter is patched together.  Comparing the two is really not fair.  Each are beautiful in their own right.

I am a candidate for reconstruction, wherein a plastic surgeon would create new breasts for me.  I haven’t yet met with a plastic surgeon to discuss what type of reconstruction is best for me.  There are several different types of reconstruction: implants or donor site tissue (back, belly, butt or thigh); often a combination of these is recommended.  There are also lots of physical factors for the surgeon to consider: body shape, donor site tissue viability, body fat percentage, radiation burns, surgical scarring, and skin tightness/thickening.  If and when I meet with a plastic surgeon (or two), I expect I will get a very specific recommendation about what type of reconstruction would be best for me given all of the aforementioned factors.  Also, different surgeons use different techniques, so that element comes into play also.

Why haven’t I done reconstruction yet?  Well, I had to have a bi-lateral mastectomy to cut the cancer out (August 2012).  After that, I had to have radiation therapy to nuke the cancer site (September-November 2012).  Radiation continues to impact the skin and tissue for six months after treatment, so this month (May 2013) is the first month that I could potentially be eligible for reconstructive surgery.  Some breast cancer patients are eager to get on with it: they want their “new breasts” and it is important to them.  Other breast cancer patients are more comfortable as is: flat and fabulous; they decide not to do any reconstruction.

I find I am not really in either camp these days.  I am not eager to go through the long, painful reconstruction process.  And honestly, being flat has it’s own set of challenges.  Neither option sounds *awesome* right now.

However, NED is AWESOME, so I’m totally content.  I’m so grateful that I’m cancer free and that I’m waffling over these inconsequential non-life-threatening decisions.

I have decided I am going to sit down with a plastic surgeon (or two) to talk about reconstruction so that I can consider it at some point in the non-immediate future.  I already know that it will require multiple surgeries and the accompianing pain and logisitics.  I know that it will require me to step out of my life as mama to my girls again, especially Greta.  I didn’t see Greta for nearly three weeks after my mastectomy surgery, which was so hard for me, but necessary.  SuperGramma was able to live in our house and take over; she and Greta have a special bond because of that time.  It was a good thing.  Now that Greta is two, she’s bigger than she was in August, but I still lift her in and out of her crib, carseat and highchair ten? fifteen? times a day.  Surgery would mean that I would have multiple multi-week periods of time where I could not lift Greta at all.  So, for the immediate future, I’m not ready for reconstruction because it is more important for me to be present to mother Greta (and Maren).  After fighting cancer, I just can’t voluntarily give up that time with my kids.  I just can’t.  But maybe, when the kids are older, I will be ready.

Brad is going to come to the plastic surgery consultation with me so that we can both understand the options.  He tells me I am beautiful no matter what.  I’m so thankful that it’s his voice I hear in my head when I look in the mirror.  Thanks, babe.  You’re amazing.

9 comments

  1. It sounds like you have given this plenty of thought and prayer time. Your plan/His plan is what is best for you! Good luck!

  2. Every single time you write (and I read) NED, I feel a surge of joy.

  3. You, NED and Brad are all awesome!! What a beautiful team! And the rest will come if/when it feels right for you.

  4. Bonnie J /

    Funny you should write on this now. .. just wondering myself? You’ll KNOW the right time. . The Lord will let you know the right time – and we’ll all be there to support and encourage you on. Until then you look Mahvelous :-)

  5. Terri /

    I had the bilateral mastectomy 12 years ago. Saw the surgeons, got all the opinions, weighed the options, and never did a thing. I am flat & fantastic! I wear prosthetics in a “pocket bra” when I feel the need and have never ever regretted sparing myself another surgery. My wonderful husband of 25 years says he’s the only Boob I need. I have a happy, purposeful life. I walk in God’s grace!
    There is no wrong decision.

  6. Ingrid /

    I’m surprised no one has offered … I have some butt-tissue to donate if you find yourself in need! :)

    It looks as if you’re in a very content place … what a blessing!

  7. daveschreier@yahoo.com /

    Praying for you!

  8. So loved your description of reconstruction vs. boob jobs! I’m going to have to hang onto this blog…just as I have so many of your others that have truly “spoken” to me. I had my reconstruction last July. I also had to wait until I was 6 months out from radiation. I am content with my new breasts, but I definitely miss my original ones at times. The NED is the important thing, though! I even quoted you recently in regards to the NED status when I was giving my testimony at my church’s women’s retreat. :)

  9. Ami /

    I love how you ended this blog post. You always have such clear priorities!