I met with my surgeon Tuesday for my post-chemo pre-surgery check. He confirmed that he still believes (based on a variety of things, like original size and location of the lump, proximity to skin surface and nipple, etc) that a total mastectomy is the best option for me rather than a simple lumpectomy. I prefer to have the best chance of long term survival and the least chance of recurrence, so I am okay with this.
Please note- a total mastectomy (full removal of one breast) is not to be confused with a bilateral or double mastectomy (full removal of both breasts). Total mastectomy means they will remove all breast tissue down to the chest wall and it will include removal of the nipple and enough skin to make the incision a flat line on a flat surface. Here (warning – clicking this link will take you to photos of breasts) are some representative photos of what it could possibly look like afterward (I’d like to think the photo in there of the woman who has in-shape, nicely formed abdominal muscles – but alas, I’ll look more like the pleasantly plump, saggy ones ).
I do not intend to do reconstructive surgery. I am not really vain enough to care, as you may have already read about in my earlier posts about hair loss and the photo of me on my “About Gina” page. In addition, reconstruction involves taking skin and fat tissue from other parts of your body to place there and then reconstruction of a “nipple” – it takes several surgeries over a long period of time and leaves scars on other parts of your body. No thank you very much! 😉
The worst part will be getting used to being lopsided. When I was at Mackinac, a woman came up to me and said she apologized but it was obvious I had cancer and she was curious about what kind. When I told her it was breast cancer she got a big smile and said, “Me too!” She told me she’d had both breasts removed (a bilateral mastectomy- see how my medical vocab lesson came in useful here? 😉 ) and as she pointed to her chest, she said “I can be any size I want! Today I’m an A, but some days I like to be a C!” We both laughed and we shared good luck wishes and a “we are survivors” look. Only someone who’s been through this can understand the solidarity that brings. I am not alone. And there are so many others around me that have survived this.
I have to wait at least one month after chemo to have the surgery so that my body can recover fully from the chemo. Otherwise I may not heal properly (platelets are needed for the blood to clot) and could have a much higher chance of infection if my white blood cell counts (especially neutrophils) have not rebounded to high enough levels.
Seriously, I’m okay with this. I want whatever gives me the greatest chance that cancer will be gone from my body. Them there thangs have always been in my way anyway. Bye-bye booby! 😀