My Little Bs Have the Big C

A Breast Cancer Blog For Young Women


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Two Year Mastectaversary

It’s hard to believe that two years ago, at this moment, doctors were standing over me and saving my life by amputating my breast.  I still remember the fear I felt that morning like it was yesterday.  It might as well have been yesterday.  But it’s been two whole years and it’s hard to wrap my brain around that.

Even though it’s been two years and I have had my initial DIEP Flap reconstruction, I still have more “tweaking” surgeries to go.  I want my plastic surgeon to fix the shape of my breast.  The symmetry is good and I even think the size but it’s still round and flat instead of cone shaped.  I also have to have nipple put on and I’m trying to decide if I want a realistic nipple tattoo or something a little more artsy and decorative.

So, the journey (I know some of you hate that word, I’m ok with it) is not over.  Far from it.  But look how far I’ve come?

Here is my mastectomy story.

This is why I chose a single over a double mastectomy.

A hospital packing list for your mastectomy.

How long did it take for you to finish all of your reconstruction surgeries?

Did you opt to go for a natural tattoo of the aureola or for something artsy and decorative?  How did you make that decision.

 

 

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Bits of Happiness #23

I survived my first week back at work after my DIEP Flap.  It went pretty well.  All of the students that I was seeing previously were really happy to see me.  They all told me how much they missed me and loved having me back.  For the most part, they were really well behaved, too!  I wonder how long that will last?

The week wasn’t without incident.  I started a new residency.  The students in this class are fantastic!  We had a really great time and I think they will end up creating a fantastic piece of theatre by the time June rolls around.  But the principal of the school…well…I think she might be crazy.  She yelled at me because I was OVER-prepared!!!!!  The group I’m teaching are ELLs (English Language Learners) and I was told that their level was very low.  When I hear this, I prepare a lot of visuals with vocabulary words I will be using.  I got yelled at by the principal that they knew all of this stuff and shouldn’t be doing it.

I let her know that it was my first day and since I never met them, I was just trying to be prepared.  My mistake, obviously.  Next time, I won’t prepare anything and maybe that will be better!!!  (I lie, I’ll keep doing what I’m doing because what I did ending up being fucking awesome so take that stupid, crazy principal!!!)

But the long days and the commuting have really exhausted me.  I feel a little something like this.

exhausted

At least I’ll sleep well tonight.


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Reality Bites…Or Cuts…Or…You Know What I Mean

Ladies and gentlemen, curious people of all ages, here is the post where I tell you all about my DIEP Flap reconstruction surgery.  I WILL BE POSTING PICTURES.  IF THE POWERS THAT BE AT FACEBOOK DON’T LIKE IT, FACEBOOK CAN SUCK MY C&*%@!!!!!!!!!!!!  IF YOU DON’T LIKE IT, I PROMISE TO POST THEM AT THE VERY END SO YOU CAN READ BUT NOT LOOK AT THE PHOTOS.  I just think it’s important to share because one of my goals for this blog is advocacy and education.  My hope is that it will help you make your own choices about what surgery you should get, give you questions to ask your surgeon so that you can make the best decision for you or, if you have already had your reconstruction, to share what aspects were similar or different for you.  Sound good?  Then here we go.

Let’s start with the basics. (All my information here is coming from breastcancer.org)  What exactly is the DIEP Flap reconstruction surgery?  DIEP stands for the deep inferior epigastric perforator artery, which runs through the abdomen.  It is a muscle sparing flap surgery unlike the the TRAM Flap, which utilizes the muscle in the abdomen.  In the DIEP Flap surgery, fat, tissue and vessels are removed from the belly area and used to reconstruct the breast.  Through the use of microsurgery, the surgeon attaches the vessels from the belly area and transplants it into the breast.

Because fat, tissues and vessels are being removed from the belly area, the belly will be tighter and flatter post surgery, kind of like a tummy tuck.  That is a major plus.  However, an incision is made from one side of the abdomen to the other, from hip bone to hip bone,  leaving a scar.  The result of the breast is that eventually it can feel more like a normal breast, and that it will lose and gain weight with you as your body changes, unlike an implant which can feel less natural, look less natural and does not change with your body.

I chose this surgery after months and months of research and meeting with several doctors, all who agreed unanimously that it was the best choice for me.  The reason being that I amassed so much scar tissue from my mastectomy and radiation that it was likely making my axillary web syndrome (cording) and lymphedma worse as well as my range of motion.  Your own tissue is regenerative and the hope was/is that with this surgery, some of the problems caused by treatment would at least partially be resolved.

Reconstruction day began at 6:00 am on January 8.  I arrived at the hospital at 6:07 and was very swiftly registered and ushered into the private hospital area where I was prepped.  During this period, Ken was asked to remain in the waiting room.  I was given a gown to wear, given a pregnancy test (really people?  didn’t you put me in menopause?) and told to brush my teeth.  My vitals were taken and I was asked basic health questions.  This process took about 20-30 minutes.  After this, they allowed my husband to join me.  I first met the medical resident who asked me what surgery I was getting.  “Shouldn’t you know?” I asked nervously, as I slid to the edge of my seat so I could run the fuck out of there.  He told me that it’s important that know what I’m there for and they confirm it.  Well, it’s a good thing I did.  “I’m here for a DIEP Flap reconstruction and to get my mediport removed,” I said.   He looked perplexed. “You’re getting your mediport removed,” he asked?  “Yes, yes I am,” I said.  “You discussed this with your doctor?  You verbally agreed on this,” he asked?  “Yes, we did,” I said.  “And if you don’t take it out and make me go through another surgery, I promise to hunt all of you down,” I said sternly.

He said removing my mediport was not a problem and adjusted my surgical sheet (I forgot what they call it but it’s like a contract).  A few minutes later, he came back with the contract to sign and was very clear that I was getting the DIEP Flap plus mediport removal.  I signed that copy.

Next, I met the anesthesiologist, who is not the warmest person in the world.  But it seems like she means business, so I figured that’s all I really needed.  It’s not like we were going to be having deep conversation during the procedure or anything.  She asked me all the same questions as everyone else, checked me out and explained her job and asked if I had any questions for her.  “Can you give me something now?  For the anxiety,” I asked?  You’ll get the good stuff soon enough.  “You have my full permission to put me under THE MOMENT I get into the OR.  I have no interest in being conscious right now, ok?”  She seemed perplexed but agreed and left.

Then my plastic surgeon, Dr. Saadeh came in with another doctor that I have never met.  He reminded me that there would be many teams working on me at once, some on my abdomen area while others were working on the breast.  This ensured that I would be under anesthesia for as short a time as possible.  He asked me all the same questions (everyone asks you the same questions over and over).  He then asked me to open my robe and began to mark up my body with a green sharpie.  I wish I got a picture of this because….holy shit…that was frightening.  I have to say, they were careful and thorough and took their time to make sure they were marking me to perfection.  I think you want that quality in a plastic surgeon.  A perfectionist.  So that was fine with me.

But you should of seen Ken’s face.  His mouth was covered, his eyes were wide and his pupils were the smallest I’ve ever seen.  “Ken!!!!  Get it together!!!!  You’re freaking me out!!!!”  “I’m sorry,” he said, as he resumed the exact same facial expression.  “Seriously, if you can’t wipe that look off your face, turn the fuck around!!!!!”  I wasn’t feeling particularly sensitive at the moment.  Dr. Saadeh looked at my husband and said, “Hey, man, maybe you should turn around for now.”  And snickered.

After that, I think a few more people came in and asked me the same questions.  Then someone came with a wheelchair to take me away.  That’s when it hit me.  I began to cry.  This was really happening.  This surgery I didn’t want but knew I needed to have was going to happen.  After months, and months, and months of asking, learning and educating myself, it seemed so far away and now,  the moment was here.  Ken and I hugged for a long time.  I promised that I’d be ok.  He teared up and they whisked me away.

I went into the elevator two floors up to the OR.  I was left outside the OR for a few minutes alone while the completed prepping.  This was strange to me.  I could hear all of the doctors talking to their residents about what their jobs would be in each of the other rooms.  I was still crying at this point and I think the nurses inside my OR noticed because when they brought me in, the anesthesiologist’s assistant came right up to me and gave the warmest hug.  “I am so happy to see you,” she said!  She introduced herself and said, “I know you’re nervous but we are here to take very good care of you.”  And suddenly, I was calming down.  She asked about my life.  She asked about my son and let me talk and talk.  Suddenly, I wasn’t crying anymore.

But I’ll tell you what else wasn’t happening.  They weren’t finding a vein.  Fun Carrie fact: when I get scared and nervous, my veins retreat deep inside my body where they can not be found.  We tried every trick in the book and they would not come out.  Finally, she found a baby vein in my wrist (cue squirming in absolute horror and grossness) but it’s what we had to do.  She promised that the moment she got that needle in, she’d begin giving me “my champagne.”  She inserted the needle, put some gas(?), oxygen(?) over my mouth.  I felt my eyes get heavy.  That’s the last thing I remember.

My surgeon predicted that my surgery would last somewhere between 4 and 6 hours.  My surgery ended up being on the longer side because there was so much scar tissue from my mastectomy and radiation.  He also said that my cording was visible.  He tried to snap them with his hands and nothing happened.  He believes that no matter how hard any physical therapist tried, they never would have gotten to them.  He ended up cutting them himself.  With the removal of all the extra scar tissue, the surgery took an hour longer than expected.

When I woke up, I spent about 5 hours in recovery.  They were checking the vessels that were implanted in breast about every 15 minutes.  The nurses who took care of me were amazing.  They were attentive, sweet and caring.  And as I looked around, I noticed that everyone was getting the same care.  I mostly slept but my mouth and throat were so dry from the breathing tube during surgery that rest was uncomfortable.

After about five hours, my recovery nurses bid me adieu and sent me to my room.  I spent most of the day sleeping but was woken every hour for the next 48 hours to check on the implanted vessels in my reconstructed breast.  On the first day, I wasn’t allowed to have anything.  Not even liquids.  That was one of the hardest things for me because my mouth was so unbearably dry.  The pain was manageable, mostly because I was still under the magic of the anesthesia.

The next day….WHOA!!!!!!   PAIN!!!!  That was one of the hardest days of my life.  My nurses were great about keeping me on schedule with my pain medication, at my request.  But, if they came to check on me and my pain level was at a 3-4, with 5 minutes it would escalate to a 5-7.  Then it would take 30 minutes for the pain medication to kick in.  That was very difficult.  They also wanted me to sit in a chair.  The idea sounded terrible but once I sat up (not fun at all), being in a chair was actually a physical relief.  I could breathe easier and my muscles felt looser.  They also removed the catheter that day so I had to walk to the bathroom.  The first time I did that, the pain was so bad, my whole body was trembling and I was unable to urinate.   I tried again later after my next dose of valium and that seemed to do the trick.  AH!  Sweet relief!

The following day was much more manageable.  I was able to take a lap around the hospital floor and sit in the chair several times.  I was also allowed to move on to solid food.  Thank goodness for this because it was my birthday and I had birthday cupcakes to eat.  I didn’t have much of a taste for them but I had a little.  I’ll have to make up for  it another time and have a proper cake.

Since I did so well day one and day two post surgery, Dr. Saadeh said he was giving me the boot and sent me home on day three, which was my goal.

Since being home, I have mostly slept.  My body has been through a major trauma and my body is not giving me any choice but to let it heal.  I’ve also been keeping up with my pain meds, mostly the oxyocdon and valium (my best friend), which also knock me out about 20 minutes after taking them.

I take several laps around the apartment each day to keep the blood moving and eat meals at my table when I can.  My appetite is coming back slowly but seems to be back to normal when it comes to ice cream.

My husband has been amazing.  He’s basically my man-slave.  He changes my drains, helps me dress, tucks me into bed, fixes my pillows, fluffs my pillows, helps me out of bed,  cleans the dishes, makes me food, keeps my pill schedule and much, much more.  Please send Ken a shoutout in the comment section below!!!!

Here’s what I’ve learned so far, one week out from surgery:

  1. This surgery is not easy.  Make sure it’s what you want and it’s what will make you happy or physically comfortable in the long run.
  2. Keep on schedule with your pain meds.  You don’t want to mess with that or try to be a hero.  They are there to help you and help you heal.  You’ll wean off them soon enough.  Take them.
  3. Take colace.  Lot’s of it.  By the time you are able to poop (oxy and anesthesia are constipating), it makes going much easier.  Believe me, you don’t need to struggle here.
  4. Set up a plan for when friends can bring you meals.  If you have them all at once, you won’t have room in your fridge.  It also helps your caregiver so all that he or she has to do is heat up a meal rather than cook it.
  5. There is no right answer when it comes to reconstruction surgery.  I think all of the options suck.  You just have to make the best choice with the information you have at the time and hope it works out for the best.  We can only do our best in the here and now.
  6. Don’t do too much post surgery.  Get up and move to avoid blood clots and to get the blood flowing but you don’t need to do much or go far.  A little bit goes a long way.
  7. Eat what you can and what appeals to you.  Of course eating healthy is best but if all that sounds good to you is Ben and Jerry’s, then that is what you should have.  Now is not the time to worry about calories.  Just get some energy into you and worry about the rest later.
  8. Be vigilant about following your doctor’s directions for medication.  It can help prevent complications later.
  9. Love yourself.  Binge watch terrible television.  Sleep all day.  Get a foot massage from your partner.  Whatever makes you feel special.

What questions do you still have about reconstruction surgery?

What choices have you made about reconstruction and why?

What was your experience with reconstruction, if you’ve had it already?  Share in the comment section so that we can share experiences.

 

OK, NOW HERE COME THE PHOTOS

THEY ARE GRAPHIC AND SHOW INCISION SCARS, DRAINS AND BREASTS

IF YOU ARE WEAK OF STOMACH OR THIS TYPE OF THING TENDS TO OFFEND YOU, YOU SHOULD PROBABLY STOP HERE.

MORE WARNING

 

MORE WARNING

 

SERIOUSLY, LAST CHANCE!!!!!!!

 

 

 


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A Quick Update

I think some of you might have warned me that the first week after getting the DIEP Flap would be hard.  You are the tellers of truth.  Holy Shit!  This pain is real.  The tightness, the discomfort.  THE DRAINS!!!!!!!  The first day post-op was really the worst.  I didn’t think I was going to make it through.  But each day is getting better.  I do at least 3 laps around the apartment every few hours, which is good but mostly, I sleep.  I sleep a lot.  I get pretty loopy from the drugs but I’m already weaning off the oxyocdon, which I only take at night to help me sleep.  I take valium twice a day because, why not?  But that seriously knocks me out.

I guess, all in all, I’m doing as well or even better than expected.  That doesn’t feel like much right now.  I’ll update you all on the full story of my reconstruction experience shortly.  As soon as I can keep my eyes open for more than ten minutes.

This is the last step, right?


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The Whatifs

Last night, while I lay thinking here,
Some Whatifs crawled inside my ear
And pranced and partied all night long
And sang their same old Whatif song.

-Shel Silverstein

what if 1

I might be freaking out a little bit.  Just a tad.  My DIEP Flap is in just a few short hours and well…I want to run away.  Far, far away.  I’m questioning every decision I have made, every bit of research I have amassed over the last three months and every piece of advice I have gotten from numerous doctors.  They mean nothing to me right now.  Fear is the supreme ruler and I have a serious case of the Whatifs.

What if I can’t walk into the O.R.?

What if my knees give out?

What if I throw up?

What if I wake up in the middle of the surgery?

What if I never wake up from the surgery?

What if it hurts so, so, so, so, so much?

What if there are complications?

What if I have to stay in the hospital longer than expected?

What if I get an infection?

What if my surgeon fucks up?

What if I don’t like my new breast?

What if it takes months or years to heal and get back to normal again?

What if I can’t hold my son for a long period of time?

What if my son throws temper tantrums and I can’t do anything about it because I can’t lift him?

What if my son hurts himself and I can’t do anything about it because I can’t lift him?

What if my son forgets about my “boo-boos” and jumps on me and tears my scars?

What if my son is afraid to hurt me and then doesn’t let me snuggle him?

What if I don’t see my son for days and I miss him so much it hurts?  There’s no pain medication for that.

What if I can’t get back to work when I planned?

What if I physically can’t work the way I hope to in a few weeks?

What if this surgery doesn’t help my lymphedema?

What if the surgery makes my lymphedema worse?

What if I die?

What if I regret it all?

What if I made the wrong decision?

What if, what if, what if, what if, what if?

 

Everything seems swell, and then
The nighttime Whatifs strike again!

-Shel Silverstein

what if 2


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Decisions, Decisions

Oftentimes, when facing cancer treatment, you do not have too many choices.  You can choose to have a mastectomy or not.  Go through chemotherapy or not.  Get radiation or not.  These don’t really seem like choices.  At least, for me, they were not presented as such.  When speaking to a nurse about whether or not I would need radiation, he said, “Oh yeah, you’re getting radiation.”  And it was decided.  But recently, as I move into the final phase of my treatment, it seems like I have had to make a lot of decisions that can affect the rest of my life.

When I met with my plastic surgeon, Dr. Saadeh, after being diagnosed in August of 2014, he presented me with all of my reconstruction options.  When I say “all,” I mean two.  1) I could get an implant.  The pro of getting implants is that it is a simple, outpatient surgery with a short recovery time.  I’d be able to get back to normal life, including raising Oliver, in a few short weeks.  The cons of implants are that they need to be replaced about every 10 years or so, assuming that they don’t burst or deflate (REALLY?) before that.  That means several surgeries over my lifetime.  I could develop scar tissue around the implant which would make the breast hard.  Also, if I were to gain or lose weight, only one breast would show change while my reconstructed breast would remain the same.  2) Either DIEP or TRAM Flap surgery (I write both because I honestly can’t remember which one has been offered to me although I’m pretty sure it is the DIEP Flap).  A TRAM Flap reconstruction involves removing fat, tissue, vessels and muscle  from the lower belly area and moving it up to reconstruct the breast.  The DIEP Flap surgery is similar to the TRAM Flap except it is muscle sparing, meaning they take the tissue, fat and vessels but don’t use any muscle.  This can be done by a surgeon who specializes in micro-surgery.  The pros of this surgery is that the reconstructed breast is very similar in feel and look to the remaining breast.  If I gain or lose weight, it will show in both breasts since it is my own tissue.  While this is a more invasive surgery initially, I will have less surgeries for maintenance over time.  The cons of this surgery is that recovery is significantly longer than with getting implants (about 6 weeks total with 3-5 days in the hospital).  I will lose core strength.  I will not be able to lift Oliver for several months.  3) No reconstruction at all.  This was not an option given to me but it is an option and one I have strongly considered.

DIEP_Flap_Reconstruction_1_test

Reconstructed breast after DIEP Tram reconstruction. Photo from breastcancer.org

Implant

Reconstructed breasts with implants. Photo from breastcancer.org

My plastic surgeon suggested that, given my lifestyle and the fact that I have a young child, the best option for me would be to get implants.  This was a strong recommendation.  He said he would do a Tram surgery for me but he didn’t think it was the right time in my life to have that kind of invasive procedure.  At the time, I didn’t care.  I just wanted the cancer out of my body.  I didn’t care if I had a breast anymore.  I didn’t care if they took them both.  I just wanted to live.  I wanted to escape my life.

I remember being disappointed with both of my reconstruction options.  I thought I’d look through a book of celebrity breasts and, literally, choose the ones I liked.  “I’ll have one Salma Hayek, please!!!”  But that’s not how this works.  I could change my breast size (I don’t want to, mine are just fine, thanks!) but my breasts will never look “normal” again.  Surgery will not be a positive thing.  It’s like choosing a Congressman; you choose the lesser of  two evils and hope for the best.

Fast forward a year later.  I have had my mastectomy, six months of chemotherapy, a year of Herceptin, and 15 sessions of radiation.  My breast is rock solid hard due to scar tissue and damage from the radiation. I’m in constant discomfort.  I have also developed Axillary Web Syndrome in my arm down to my fingers and lymphedema.  I went to my appointment with Dr. Saadeh, convinced that I was going to get an implant.  All we had to do was iron out the details.  When and where.  But that is not what happened.

“So, what’s going on with that arm,” he asked?

“Ummm…I thought I was here to talk about my boobs,” I replied.

But that’s not what he was interested in.  It turns out, NYU is now starting to do lymph node transplants and he seemed very interested in steering me in that direction.  I had heard about lymph node transplants but was under the assumption that they were still in trials.  They are not in trials but the science is very new and doctors are just starting to do the surgery.  He was also now strongly suggesting that I do the DIEP Flap surgery over getting an implant.

“Why would I want to do that,” I asked?  “I have an abnormally huge child who likes to be picked up all the time.  Wouldn’t that be a problem?”

“Well,” he said, as he checked himself out in the mirror (something he did several times during our appointment), “it’s true that there would be a longer recovery and you could not lift your son for several weeks but I think this would be a good solution for you.  Studies are showing that when you reconstruct with your own tissue, it can increase blood flow to the affected arm, improving circulation and helping to improve symptom of lymphedema.  And I really think you should consider the lymph node transfer surgery.  I think you would be a good candidate.”

So now, in a matter of minutes, the surgery I thought I was going to get, the implant, is no longer being recommended for me.  I could do it but my surgeon thinks I will still be extremely uncomfortable physically.  I now have to wrap my head around the possibility of a completely different surgery; one that will be more violent, more invasive and take up more of my life.  And not only that, I was being presented with a whole other surgery that could help with my lymphedema but, it is completely new and just starting to be done at NYU for the first time.  I would be one of the first ones at NYU to get the surgery!

“I need to read articles.  What articles can I read about this?  And I need to get second or third opinions.  What doctors can I see?”

I think this shocked him a little bit but he answered my questions.  He told me about Dr. Babak Mehrara, who works at Memorial Sloan Kettering and is a pioneer in the field of breast reconstruction and lymphatics.  He told me to go see him (they are close friends) and to read his articles.  As soon as I got home I looked him up, read this article about lymphatic regeneration after tissue transfer, and called his office to schedule an appointment.

A few short weeks later, I was in Dr. Mehara’s office.  He spoke really fast and had a lot of confusing things to say.  But here is what I understood.  A lymph node transfer is not a cure.  I’ll say that again, it is not a cure.  When it is done, at it’s best, it prevents the lymphedema from getting worse.  This was a huge disappointment to me.  I thought going in, that this was recommended to me because it would fix me.  I learned that this was not the case.  I also asked him about the DIEP Flap surgery helping my lymphedema.  He said it has helped with some people but not a huge percentage.  And, again, it would not be a cure.

This is the first time that I had to face facts and acknowledge that my lymphedema is forever.  It’s never, ever going away and I will have to manage it for the rest of my life.  This information suddenly weighed on my chest.  I couldn’t breathe.  The disappointment was more than I could bear.  Despite this, he suggested that I get a test called a lymphoscintigraphy which would provide pictures of my lymphatic system.

In the last year, I have been through some incredibly unpleasant medical procedures. But this one really bothered me.  On the suck scale, from sucking boogers to sucking sweaty horse balls, well, you can guess where on the scale I might be referring to.  The procedure entailed 16 injections.  Eight in the webs of my fingers and eight in the webs of my toes.

Fun Carrie fact…I hate my feet being touched.  It freaks me out!  I hate getting pedicures for this reason but suck it up once or twice a year.  So to have eight needles injected in between my toes as two nurses hold and spread them was just about one of the worst things I could think of.

After they injected my hands, I had the pleasure of having a machine, which I will name, “Sloth” scan me as my arms were place over my head.  I think I had to stay in this position for 45 minutes.  Cue major cramping and muscle spasms.  But I could not move or we’d have to start again.

The same thing with my legs.  The machine slowly scanned me for about 45 minutes.  Could I listen to a podcast?  Surf the internet?  No!  Just me and my thoughts about needles being stuck in my fucking toes!!!

After about three hours of tests, the nurse came back.  “We need more.” MORE????!!!!????  Back in the machine I go for another hour as it proceeds to scan my WHOLE BODY!  Oh, Sloth, how I hate you!

After four hours of needles and scanning, I was free to go.

“When will I know the results,” I asked?

“Well, I can see the results.  But I can’t tell you,” said the nurse. “Your doctor will call you on Monday.”

Bitch.

One week later (seriously) after many phone calls, I got a call from Dr. Mehrara’s nurse confirming that I did in fact have lymphedema in my arm.  They now wanted to schedule me for another test called an ICG Lymphography.  More needles.  This would give them a more detailed image of my lymphatic system and could tell whether or not I would be a good candidate.

But I knew I wasn’t a good candidate.  You see, I’ve always had swelling in my right foot and the lymphscintigraphy confirmed that I have a slow uptake of fluid in my right leg which puts me at risk for lymphedema.

I consulted more doctors.  I talked to every doctor and nurse that I encountered.  They all agreed with my concerns that this procedure was too new and that it could be too risky for me.  Why transfer a set of lymph nodes from one part of my body to my arm when 1) it won’t cure my lymphedema and 2) could possibly cause lymphedema in another extremity.  This was the end of the line.

I met with Dr. Mehrara this Wednesday.  I was supposed to have the ICG test but told him I didn’t want it.  He agreed that this wasn’t the right procedure for me right now.  One decision down.

Now, for my reconstruction, it has been a rough choice.  I have been thinking about it every day since my meeting with my plastic surgeon in September and I think I’ve made the choice I need to make but it’s not the one I want.  I will be getting the DIEP Flap surgery.

I remember thinking when I was diagnosed with cancer over a year ago, that I couldn’t wait until I got my reconstruction.  In my mind, it was the event that would end my cancer journey (for lack of a better word).  It would close the chapter on this part of my life and I’d be able to move on.  But cancer doesn’t work like that.  It throws difficult decision after difficult decision at you.  It is constantly testing you.  “Are you still strong,” cancer asks?  “How much more can you take?”  I guess we will find out.

What surgery did you have?

What was recovery like?

Did surgery help your lymphedema?