Wednesday, April 27, 2011

#30 Belly Buttons, Vajayjay's & bikini lines.....

Now I don't want my blogs to get all too serious & boring even if we are dealing with a serious issue. I have had a lot of laughs with my husband, sisters & friends over this time, and I'm going to share some of those with you now. Firstly though I need to give you the Wikipedia description of my surgery so you can properly understand what I have had done, & why I have no muscle strength in my abdomen area.

Wikipedia definition;
A TRAM flap is a surgical procedure, most commonly employed for breast reconstruction. TRAM flap stands for Transverse Rectus Abdominis Myocutaneous flap. In this procedure, the breast with cancer is surgically removed, and a portion of the abdomen tissue group, including skin, adipose tissues, minor muscles and connective tissues, is taken from the patient's abdomen and transplanted onto the breast site. This procedure is preferred by some breast cancer patients because it combines a mastectomy with a abdominoplasty, and allow the breast to be reconstructed with one's own tissues instead of a foreign implant. It is contraindicated for patients who need abdominal strength, since the muscle removal weakens the abdomen.

Apparently my doctor's forgot to mention (or I didn't hear) they were taking muscles from my abdomen & obviously being able to get out of bed, or out of a chair wasn't something I needed to do anymore!! Of course I could, and perhaps should, have googled the operation I was having. But then I probably wouldn't have gone ahead with it, which is why I didn't (Google) at the time. I just needed to know the bare minimum so as to get through each stage as it happened.

Now that I have some muscles missing from my abdomen, there are a lot of things I cannot do & some that I will never be able to do again (or so they tell me), like sit ups for instance. I will never be able to do them again. Sit ups were something I've never been able to do, so you can understand how devastated I was about that :-) When I go the the hair Salon having my hair washed is lovely until the I have to get up from the chair, I scared the shit out of my hairdresser the first time when I fell sideways off the chair as she was raising it. Then there is swimming in our pool, I can't lift my feet off the bottom to swim as I feel like my stomach will split open, so I just stand around in the pool like a Nana. Getting out of bed involves a battle roll across the bed until my feet or some other part of me hit the ground. This part of the recovery I wasn't prepared for & I'm finding very frustrating. However I continue to go to Physio and do my Core work & feel a little improvement as time goes on.

There was a lot I hadn't taken in when the doctor's were speaking to me, and I believe this is common for cancer patients. For instance, no one told me I would loose my belly button and have it replace with a fake!  Hubby tells me, that I was advised about this. I don't remember and was shocked when I realised I had a new one. When my dressings were removed and I got to see the final outcome of the surgery, I realised a lot of things had been moved around. My real belly button was now tucked neatly somewhere closer to my Vajayjay than it should ever be, and as they have tucked it in they also pulled up my bikini line so high Hubby now asks when I'm getting my chest waxed!

A few days after surgery,whileI was in hospital, I finally got to see my new breasts! What a shock!! I screamed to my sister to come have a look (as she was visiting at the time) because I thought they had placed one of my new breasts in the center of my chest! WTF?? My lovely sister (looking very worried I might add) said "No it's not, it's all fine." (I found out later that she was actually worried about it too). However all of this was just swelling and in fact the surgeon has done an excellent job with the reconstruction. Even putting on deodorant can be a bit hit & miss as I have no feeling under one arm pit, and am never sure if I have hit the mark or not. Just waiting for someone to let me know!

So off to the Physio I head again with my pretend belly button & freshly waxed chest to continue my journey through this god awful disease, but with a smile and a sense of humor. God I love life!

Monday, April 25, 2011

#29 How Dense are you?

In a previous blog I have mentioned that I had very dense breast tissue. This was the major factor in having to have bilateral mastectomy when I was diagnosed with Breast Cancer. I have recently been pointed towards a Ted Lecture regarding this issue! Please take the time to watch this lecture; 

Mammogram technology is currently the major breast cancer diagnostic tool in Australia & America. Mammogram is a very important tool to uncover change in many women's breast, however if you have very dense breast tissue mammogram is unlikely to uncover tumors at an early stage. This is crucial for survival.

How do you know if you have dense breast tissue? If you don't, and most of us wouldn't know, ask your doctor and read your mammography report. Dense breast tissue is a stronger risk factor than having a mother or sister with Breast Cancer. Even though this lecture is out of the US, I had a call from a Brisbane Breast Cancer nurse recently who had just gotten back from a conference that talked about the relationship between breast density and breast cancer. So it looks as if Australia is catching up on this issue.

If you notice a change in your breast INSIST on additional imaging not just mammogram! Ultra sound & MRI can assist in finding tumors (It probably saved my life), until a new imaging such as Deborah Rhodes MBI technology becomes available.


Tuesday, April 5, 2011

#28 Grief

Well I have been told time & time again how well I'm doing, coping with my cancer & surgery! My decision to have my breasts removed was something that HAD to be done! A certain amount of disconnect was involved where you just get on with it! I've had people tell me that they couldn't have done it! I disagree, because until you are faced with your mortality you don't really know how you will react.

My husband has just been away for a month, which was quite difficult for me. We have been married for almost 22 years & don't spend a lot of time apart. So on his return I have turned to mush! I feel like all the strength I have had through my surgery & recovery has vanished.

Last night after an intimate moment with my husband, I felt immense grief. Like when I'd lost my father, but this time it was for the loss of my breasts......... I never expected to feel like that! I cannot explain it other than I sobbed with absolute grief for hours! I am blessed to have a man in my life that loves me totally & that my absence of nipples doesn't matter to him. Nor should it, but I have lost my usual self confidence.  I suspect these feelings will continue, but hope that I can regain my usual confidence & strength. I feel like I'm walking on egg shells right now.

Having just received a bunch of brochures about my Cancer recently "How are you travelling?" I guess I'm not travelling as well as I thought I was!

I'm sure these feelings are common for anyone who has felt lose of any sort, I would love you to share how you have coped with this. Once again I want to thank all the people who have been very supportive through all I am going through. (because I suspect it is not over yet!)

All comments welcome.