Friday 4th Jan 2013 the date my life changed forever. I wasn't a Cancer patient in the truest sense anymore. I had just undergone a skin sparing double mastectomy & reconstruction.
After a 4 hour operation + 1hr in recovery I'm back in my room, I can hear talking, mobile phone ringing, I'm not really with it, I've had an awful lot of anaesthetic, it's going to take a while to get over this.
I don't remember waking up in any pain, just a bit sore where the 2 drains are attached to me draining fluid, no bandages just plasters over the stitches on each breast. Mum says all has been a success & the surgeon is very pleased. There were no cells in my lymph nodes which is fantastic news, it means nothing has spread, will have to wait for results of the rest but he seemed confident everything removed was clear but they have to test just to be 100% sure.
Now to follow 4 days of pain & pills, nurses & nightmares, sleeping & sobbing.. Extensive menus I had to fill out for meals which I couldn't eat, husband & mum bored out of their heads sitting next to me day & night, flowers, balloons, presents, phone calls, a few friends visits, then it was time to leave.
Back at my mums pretty much the same routine without the remote controlled bed & the button for room service.. still mum & husband doing a pretty good job running up & down the stairs, just without a uniform!
Few days in & the pain though not so intense has becomes more of an ache & a sore tender swollen sensation (which is still there 2 weeks later), mainly under my right arm where the lymph nodes were removed. Thus coupled with 2 big heavy alien mounds planted on my chest, life has proven to be very uncomfortable, & hence why it's taken so long to type this latest blog, that & my mental state of mind (will get to that in a min).. Plus the more I do the more it hurts, but with a 2 year old around it's hard not to pick up toys, or change a nappy. Unfortunately pain killers don't really help so I kicked them & just took paracetamol.
The worst bit was the crying constantly, I couldn't stop, I know the anaesthetic is partly to blame, but this was more than drugs messing with my head, this was deep rooted realisation & shock.. I hadn't prepared myself for all of this, the pain, the feelings I would encounter after the op, the questions I had, the boobs themselves especially the right one with no nipple! The overall general feeling sorry for myself.
Why was I feeling sorry for myself when I had survived this thing? There were so many people worse off than me who never had the chance to be at this point in the journey. It was an endless cycle of being cross and angry with myself, beating myself up for not pulling myself together, sobbing to mum, husband, friends, I needed to get a grip!
It's 2 weeks today, I've been back to see my surgeon twice & he's happy with my healing, the results back from the lab were clear, no further treatment needed. The crying has subsided apart from the odd sniffle in the bath or getting undressed & I am faced with them. Anyone who thinks as I did that you would have magnificent boobs after breast reconstruction due to breast cancer is naive. I had convinced myself that this was my 'gift with purchase', my 'silver lining' for going through it all. Reality is, they will never be perfect, but they will be ok because they will have to be, they're the only boobs I've got & they're cancer-free. I'm not going to lie, it's the most horrific, mentally challenging, saddest thing that I've ever had to experience, & my journey isn't even half way yet, but it's a hell of a lot better than the alternative!
A word of advice if you are considering this route, do not envision Pamela Anderson, Elle MacPherson or any other perfectly chested woman you know.. Keep your expectations realistic, & be grateful that you are able to have reconstructive surgery, & that you're alive!! Be thankful for family, friends, faith & health. Try to stay strong, tough & brave - you will get through it.