Monday, November 14, 2011

Caught in a Whirlwind

The past 3 weeks have been a whirlwind of doctor’s appointments, test results, and surgery scheduling. I’ll try to update on those 3 things in order of occurrence.

Once I decided that a double mastectomy and reconstruction was the route I wanted to take, an appointment was made for me with a plastic surgeon. I had some unrealistic expectations going into this appointment. In my mind I had convinced myself that I would go in for surgery and have the boobs that are trying to kill me removed, and walk out with my new fake set…not so much! As I quickly learned, the day of surgery I will have an expander placed under each pectoral muscle and will have to go through a process to stretch the muscles to support the implants. When I say a process, I’m talking approximately 3 months AND another surgery before I get the implants. The thought of being flat-chested has caused a lot of anxiety. I have not been flat-chested since I was 10! It’s so weird how you don’t really notice individual parts of your body until they are taken from you. And maybe it’s a woman thing…you are losing something that identifies you as a woman…I don’t know.

I had prayed about the decision for treatment and really felt like God was leading toward the double mastectomy. I don’t know why we do, but we always want more confirmation from God that we really are making the right decision…I definitely wanted extra confirmation on this decision (especially after hearing I was not walking out of the operating room ready to go)! As I mentioned in my last update, I had some genetic testing done. They were testing to see if I had BRCA1 or BRCA2 or more commonly known as “the breast cancer gene”. Well, it turns out I do have BRCA2. This little gene mutation increases my chances of breast cancer, ovarian cancer, and a few other things. The two which present the greatest concern are breast and ovarian cancer. What does this mean for me? Well, in regards to the breast cancer, should I only have a lumpectomy or single mastectomy I would have increased chances of reoccurrence. SO, this confirmed my decision to have the double mastectomy….not quite the confirmation I wanted, but you know I asked for confirmation and God gave it! In regards to the ovarian cancer chances, I also now have to think about having my ovaries removed. Not a really easy thing to deal with when you are single and have no kids & having your ovaries removed takes those chances away. However, I also know that having BRCA2 means I could pass it on to my child (50/50 chance) and I wouldn’t want to knowingly pass this on to a kid. The ovary removal is obviously not at the forefront of my thoughts, but it is there and will be dealt after I’ve kicked the cancer!

So, with me ready to move forward with surgery it was time to get a date scheduled. So, November 30th I will be going in to have a double mastectomy and latissimus dorsi flap reconstruction. For the reconstruction they will be taking muscles from my back and moving them to my chest to give extra support. They will also insert an expander under my pectorals. Beginning two weeks after surgery, I will go once a week to have saline injected into the expander until I we have stretched it to the desired size (approximately 9 weeks). I like to view this as puberty ALL OVER AGAIN!!!!

I’m quickly learning that there is nothing quick about the cancer journey. I’m so thankful for the love and support I’ve been shown over the last several weeks. I have heard countless times from people around me how well I’m handling all of this. I KNOW it is God who is giving me strength when I have none on my own. None of this caught God by surprise, and I’m convinced He has a plan and a purpose for me going through this and I’m just going to trust. As one of my friends said to me the other day, “Some moments you have to just reach out and say, ‘Blessed Jesus, hold my hand!’”