Prophylactic mastectomy: goodbye my breasts, you served me well!

I never thought I’d face a necessity to make a decision like this but, like we all know, life can surprise you. The decision was made. I’m removing my breasts. I’m removing them in order to save my life.

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When I told you about my gene mutation I also said that regarding an extremely high risk of me developing a breast cancer they recommend a preventive double mastectomy. I said I was considering that but I never told you anything else about it. In the meantime I saw two plastic surgeons, I read a lot and talked to some women who did the same surgery. Based on all that I made my decision that this is the best thing to do for me. The risk is way too high and I simply don’t want to take it. The surgery will decrease it a lot (around 90%) but it’ll never give me 100%.

At the beginning when I was thinking about it and talking with Nathan we thought that since I’ll have breast MRIs every six months, everything will be fine. Because my last results were good, there was nothing in my breasts so during half a year not that much can change. But later I also thought that I don’t want for the cancer and this would be waiting for it. Doing exams every six months for the rest of my life, being nervous every single time and waiting for the one when they’ll tell me I have cancer. And then what, I’ll remove my breasts anyway but with the cancer in it. And what if it was in my lymph nodes already? Also there would be a higher risk that it’d come back. Later I thought with women who have mutations in BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes (increased risk of developing breast and ovarian cancers but still much smaller than mine) and several of them said they had MRIs right before surgeries and the results were good, doctors saw nothing. And after doing biopsies of removed breast tissues and lymph nodes turned out that they made a good decision because there was cancer that tests didn’t show. This all is just not worth it and I’m glad I don’t have to wait for appointments almost at all because I already feel the time pressure. I feel like I’m a ticking bomb, no kidding. And also now is a good time to do it because I’m young, strong, healthy overall and son my body will handle everything very well.

My today’s visit with a second surgeon (I didn’t like the first one much) went very well and I felt very comfortable out there. I didn’t have any reservations, I read about this doctor online and he was recommended to me by one of the women I talked to. The best thing is that I found out he works with a breast specialist I wanted to stay with which is awesome and I didn’t expect that. He explained everything and answered my questions fully, showed me implants and so on. He and other people working there made me feel well and comfortable which is very important. When I got home I called the breast specialist’s office who will remove what she has to remove and I told them I decided to do the surgery and I wanted to schedule it. A nurse called me back and said that the doctor wants to see me one more time first to talk it through again so I’m going there on Monday.

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How will it all look like? (I’m talking here with details.)

When my surgery is scheduled I’ll go to a hospital at the same day. They’ll get me ready, give me drugs and so on. The surgery will take around 4 hours. First the breast specialist will do the incision below my boobs and will remove all the breast tissue she can find sparing my nipples. When she’s done the plastic surgeon will come and will put expanders under my breast mussles. They’re empty implants. He’ll close me and put my nipples back on my breasts. There’s always a risk that nipples can die because normally they get their blood from breast tissue and skin but after the mastectomy they’ll get it from the skin only so they need to get used to it. When the doctor sees that everything’s fine he’ll fill the expanders with saline but not all the way. Later I’ll have to keep going every now and then to keep filling them. Women usually go there every week but he said that in my case he might be able to fill them enough so that I’ll have my appointments less often. It’s all done to make sure that skin and muscles will stretch nicely especially when you want to have a bigger size than before the surgery. He’ll also put some drains in to make sure that all the liquid like blood will be sucked out that will stay there for around a week. After around three months I’ll have a second surgery when the doctor will exchange my expanders to permanent implants. He showed me different shapes and sizes of both kinds of implans. He measured me and based on this he chose the expanders’s shape and size but the final size will depend on what I want. He also said that he’ll take some blood from my body and will put it inside so that everything will look more natural. The first surgeon said he wouldn’t do it because I’m too skinny and he said that he will and I’m happy about it.

If it comes to a recovery time he said I’ll have to be watching out for myself for around 3 to 6 weeks depending on how everything will heal, how I’ll feel and so on. At the very beginning for example I won’t be able to brush my hair, carry anything heavier, I’ll have to have shirts buttoned in front because I won’t be able to put anything on through my head. You know what will be the worst though? Definitely the fact that I won’t be able to pick up April, hug her, sit with her on our recliner. Someone will put her on my lap but she likes cuddling and she climbs on me and puts her head on my chest which she won’t be allowed to do after the surgery. It’ll be tough and I bet I’ll cry. Alicia is big enough to understand the whole thing but April won’t understand anything so if she reaches to me, which she does often, and I won’t pick her up she’ll have no idea why and I’ll have no idea what she thinks or feels. Now she’s going through the phase when she sometimes cries when she looses the sight of me even when I go to the bathroom! So I’m afraid that everything will affect her somehow and will leave a permanent skar. On the other hand, I prefer to go through several difficult weeks like this instead of leaving her for the rest of her life. And like someone told me already, it’ll probably be much more difficult for me than it is for her.

The second bad thing is that after the surgery I’ll have no feeling in my nipples and/or whole breasts. Forever. The first surgeon said that my nerves will keep trying to regenerate for around three years but it’s best not to have any hopes. It’ll be tough because it’s sure weird to hug someone and not feel it on the chest too much. Not even mentioning sexual life. Some women are lucky and have a lot of feeling, others have it in between their boobs only, some have it in one breast only… It depends but most don’t have any feeling at all.

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I checked what my insurance company has to say about it and they do cover preventive mastectomies fully if one fulfils their criteria (I do, obviously) and the federal law says that the reconstruction has to be covered in 100% as well.

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There’ll be a lot to say about it later as well, I’ll keep you up to date with everything. Now I have no idea how I’ll feel both physically and mentally afterwards but for now I can say I’m not scared and stressed anymore. And this is very important. I feel like I’m doing something that will allow me to live longer and if no other cancer will catch me, which I don’t know it either, everything will be great.

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If you have any questions at all feel free to contact me!

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Talk to you next time,

Aga

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glosowanie

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