The New Boob – Part 1

Please be advised I have permission from my husband to post the photo at the end of the post of my ‘war zone’ post breast removal – pre boob reconstruction site.  🙂

 

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Here is a photo of my gorgeous daughter who never fails to make me smile whether I am in her presence or simply just thinking about her….. so, lets start my New Boob blog part 1

Right, this is the start of a multi part series on my new boob.

My aim is to cover a few things.

  1. Why do I want to reconstruct my breast?
  2. Why don’t I want to reconstruct my breast?
  3. What does the ‘bomb site’ look like right now?
  4. How is it going to be reconstructed?
  5. The high price of private health insurance in Australia. Are you totally covered?
  6. The physical, mental and financial pain
  7. Working for an understanding company
  8. The support from co-workers
  9. Some other ramblings in my head

It has been over two years since I lost my left breast to stage three breast cancer. Now, it is time for a new and improved model to move on in.

There will be no technical terms going on in this post, or even future posts because seriously, who can remember all this mumbo jumbo the surgeons and doctors and anaesthetists use so I shall be me and use normal words and terms.

Thankfully, I was strong enough to lose the weight required by Mr Kollias who so delicately demanded I lose (You are too fat, I can’t work with this (as he grabs my stomach and wobbles it up and down and round and round) he says to me on a few occasions). Thankfully I have no feelings and his words have no emotional effect on me. This is one thing I really do like about my surgeon. The actual thing about him finding it difficult to work on me wasn’t so much about me being fat but that I was ‘solid fat’ and not ‘floppy fat’. It is easier and tidier to work with floppy fat as opposed to solid fat.

I initially really struggled with making the decision to have my breast reconstruction because, get this, I didn’t want to lose my new body. The flat left side where my cancerous breast used to live suddenly became a really important part of me. The scar and little plump fake cleavage is something that I have actually grown to love. I don’t love having to wear a prosthetic everyday in my bra as it can get quite warm and cumbersome and now that my body has changed, the prosthetic breast (called Dolly) and the right saggy baggy boobie just don’t match. No one else can tell and I know this but I can tell and it looks bloody stupid but, it is me. The new and improved me. So, why do I need to change it?

Anyhoo, I really wasn’t sure I wanted to put myself through more surgery, pain, financial strain (I am going to get to this bit a little later) and the time off work.

My new husband, the man who has seen me through all of this breast cancer bizzo, had a serious talk with me (that is a very rare thing in my household) about having this surgery. He said, and he is right, that it would be a very beneficial thing for me to do for my mental state. He sees how uncomfortable I am if he walks in on me in the shower, when I get up in the morning (yep, am a nudie rudie sleeper), and when I am braless.

Usually, I don’t give a hoot what people think about me, of my dress sense (or lack there off), the car I drive, what my hair looks like and even some of the things that come out of my mouth. It has surprised me that I am still, after two years, uncomfortable being naked in front of the man who has been with me through thick and thin, good times and bad, in sickness and in health – o hang on, this isn’t my wedding blog hehe. But you see where I am going with this don’t you?

I really had a long think about what he had to say (again, a rare thing in this household hehe) and he is right (I know! Strange hey?). I do need to do this for me and my mental health. I know I am not going to be looking like I was before and that is definitely not what I am after. My goal here is not to replace what was taken from me.

What I am after is a feeling of balance (hehe) and comfort. The new breast is going to be built from the fat from my stomach. There will be no implants or expanders because I feel I have more than enough recourses in my body to create what I need here.

Before anyone gets on their moral high horse and decides to have a go at me about the implant/expander thing… I have absolutely no issues with either of them at all. In fact, pre-cancer life, I had considered having implants to give my girls the much needed lift they required, so shut up and get back in your box! There is nothing to get all huffy about.

Anyway, back to what I was saying, the fat is coming from my stomach to build my new left boob. This occurs on the 22nd of June.

Before that, I am into surgery for my Mr Kollias to clamp two arteries in my groin in preparation for the big kahuna surgery. This is what I am actually most worried about. Cutting open my groin on either side to clamp arteries and stitching me back up scares the bajeebus out of me. How painful does that sound? Anyone who has had severe period pain will be nodding their head right now. So, that is a five to six day recovery apparently. This will only be day surgery though which is a nice thought.

The next surgery, the big bazooka boob surgery, will be the 22nd of June. This is where the fat from my stomach will some how be schimmied up to my chest and a new boob will appear. I get a tummy tuck “Thrown in as a bonus in the deal” and a wiz bang new belly button.

Oh the haters are hating right now!

Enter – Lucky you have no feelings Mrs Wilkinson – because, as Mr Kollias examined me a few weeks ago, he confirmed my fat stomach was floppy enough to do the surgery with, my two year cancer check was clear, my lymphedema was being managed but, there was a problem with Miss Right Boob.

‘Oh, we can’t leave the right breast like THAT!’ where his words, ‘Oh, I’ll have to do something here’ he says has he flattens the breast, pulls at the skin, shakes his head. I really do wish to remind him sometimes that I am laying here WITH this breast attached to me! Sometimes I wonder if he forgets there is a person attached to the breasts he works on. Thankfully he and I have been friends since day two of cancer (just over two years now) so I can take his chatter.

That means, rightie is getting a make over too. She will be plumped up and made a little younger and prettier again. Another little bonus of this whole cancer crap I guess.

Here is the potentially uncomfortable image that may offend some viewers. This is my ‘love’. My part of the body I have grown to love and cherish, hide and feel ashamed off. This is the ‘war zone’ where the potential killer lay waiting to do its job before it was destroyed by the Army consisting of many people but the man out front was Mr Kollias, he was at the front line, taking out the bad guys and saving my life.

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I shall finish this part 1 segment of ‘my new boob’ with the following

  1. A tummy tuck is NOT A GREAT BONUS (I had cancer you idiot, the only bonus is life!)
  2. Having a minimum of six weeks recovery will NOT be a welcome break from work you fool! (I had almost a year off work trying to beat this bitch called cancer!)
  3. Income insurance will NOT keep our mortgage, bills, hospitalization, medicines, animal food, people food, general living expenses covered
  4. Having perky breasts is also NOT A BONUS. I would take my pre cancer life back any day thank you (dickhead!)
  5. No, having a ‘boob job’ or ‘reconstruction’ does not make it all worth it.
  6. Private Health Insurance will NOT cover the costs of this (further information on this will be covered in Part 2)

 

Interesting Information

The following information is taken from the website www.breastcancer.org

Once you take tissue from a donor site on the body, such as the belly, it can’t be used again for breast reconstruction. So if you’re thinking about prophylactic removal and reconstruction of the other breast, you might want to make that decision before you decide on reconstruction. If you have TRAM flap reconstruction on one breast and then later need reconstruction on your other breast, tissue for the second, later reconstruction will have to come from your buttocks, inner thighs, or back. Or you can have reconstruction with an implant.

Because skin, fat, muscle, and blood vessels are moved from the belly to the chest, having a TRAM flap means your belly will be flatter and tighter — as if you had a tummy tuck. Still, a TRAM flap does leave a long horizontal scar — from hipbone to hipbone — about one-third of the way between the top of your pubic hair and your navel. In most cases, the scar is below your bikini line. After the skin and fat are removed from your belly, your surgeon may place an artificial mesh material to cover the area where the muscle was removed and then close the abdomen. If mesh is used, it stays there permanently. Your navel is then brought back out through a separate incision and reshaped.

The Bright Side of Fat

 

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Facebook kinda shits me here and there as to how commercial and whatnot it is but, there are times, when I get that ‘Facebook Memory’ as to what I posted a while ago and, this came up today. I remember so clearly this photo being taken and even though my gorgeous daughter was being silly, I still felt an amazing sense of pride for being her Mum. Nine years ago this photo was taken at my cousin Christine’s 40th Birthday party! OMG, that means my cousin Christine is going to be….. 50 oh so soon. Anyhoo, this photo of ‘the kid and I’ is very special to me. It is before I became a Coeliac and before I knew I had stage 3 breast cancer.

Moving On.

So, this was the week for me to meet with my surgeon to discuss the surgery I want/need early next year. The reason I would like this surgery early next year is because

  1.      I would like to be done with Breast Cancer
  2.      My wedding is in November 2017 and I would like 2 boobs for it
  3.      What does it matter? Just give me another boob please!

So, off to Mr Jim Kollias on Wednesday to discuss my upcoming surgery and to have my 6th monthly Breast Cancer check. Actually, from here on in, I am thinking I wont bother with writing breast cancer with capitals. I recall from school that capital letters were for proper words and those of being ‘important’. Well, you know what Oh Serious Breast Cancer? I have demoted you to lower case from now on!

Right, now we have that straight, let me continue…..

Mr Kollias has many names throughout South Australia and most of them good. Don’t get me wrong, I am going to BAG the SHIT out of him in this post but know this, he is the best in the business ok? Anyhoo… this is how it happened….

Into the lovely little office I went, went through the formalities of me looking great and me saying thank you blah blah and, off to the back room I go to rid myself of my tops and bras and sit on the bed to wait…

Now, keep in mind that Mr James Kollias, being the best in the Breast Cancer field in South Australia, keeps you protected, safe and bubble wrapped the entire time you are dealing with breast cancer. He will do everything humanly possible to rid your body of the cancer and make you feel A OK. You only have to do as you are told and he will make everything happen for you.

Once your breast cancer has been cut out, chemotherapied, radiologied, blitzed with drugs and sleep and some more drugs and more surgery, then comes along the true to life, the honest and IN YOUR FACE Mr Kollias.

There are no more warm snugly cuddly hugs of comfort, no more Mr Nice Guy.

He has always told us how it is when it came to my Stage 3 Breast Cancer but, I always felt safe and snuggly within his words. He was the Captain of our Ship. He would ensure everything happened correctly and his way. My only job on this ship was to follow his orders.

And I did feel all safe and snugly and protected and loved. Until NOW.

Now, I am FAT and ROUND!

On Wednesday the 5th of October 2015 (311 Days Since Mr Kollias and I met) I was meeting him again but this time to discuss my Reconstruction Left Breast Surgery.

I am requiring, wanting and possibly even needing a particular surgery called a TRAM Flap. TRAM stands for transverse rectus abdominis, a muscle in your lower abdomen between your waist and your pubic bone. A flap of this skin, fat, and all or part of the underlying rectus abdominus (“6-pack”) muscle are used to reconstruct the breast in a TRAM flap procedure.

While it’s the most popular flap reconstruction procedure, a TRAM flap isn’t for everyone. It’s not a good choice for:

  • thin women who don’t have enough extra belly tissue
  • women who already have had multiple abdominal surgeries
  • women who plan on getting pregnant
  • women who are concerned about losing strength in their lower abdomen

So, my big belly and myself are thinking, HOOK ME UP BIG BOY, because I am none of the above and more than that, HOOK ME UP TO THOSE SKINNY BITCHES THAT DON’T HAVE ENOUGH EXTRA BELLY TISSUE, I HAVE ENOUGH FOR EVERYBOOOOOODY.

Mr Kollias does not find this helpful OR amusing. Sometimes I wonder how Mr Kollias and I even get along!

Right, back to it….

I am now laying on the medical bed which is not comfortable nor relaxing and Mr Kollias starts the examination. I would have assumed he would have started with Ms Rightie, my lonely breast that stands alone… but no, he starts with my belly. He GRABS a big fist full of the belly area and wibbles and wobbles it up and down as though it isn’t actually attached to me (BUT IT IS)  and says,

“Wow, this is very large. YOU are incredibly ROUND’. This is a lot of FAT”.

I kid you not!

I am laying on this bed, with my one amazing but sagging boobie and my big gutses hanging out, feeling oh so vulnerable while he, the amazing Mr K, proceeds to tell me how round and fat I am.

I KNOW I AM FAT FFS!

No, I do not say this out loud.

So, as I lay on that oh so uncomfortable bed, with my gutses hanging out, trying to think of something else, he, Mr Kollias, is grabbing handfulls of flab (yep, that’s my stomach) wibbling and wobbling up and down, still saying the words ROUND and FAT and I CAN’T WORK WITH THIS, I sink deeper and deeper into some daze like meditation.

Ok, I am no fool. I know I am fat. But for f*cks sake. Give me a break! I can’t use the ‘cancer card’ with Mr Kollias because he has been there with me from start til now. He is trying to tell me that

  1. The more fat I have, the more likely I will be to get cancer, especially breast cancer, again
  2. He can not operate on a fat person due to the risks involved
  3. He can not operate on a fat person for a TRANS Flap thingy without putting them ‘at risk’

Right then, after four rounds of him grabbing my gutses, told I am ever so ROUND, and that he can’t operate the way I want without a risk, It is thankfully now time for me to dress and smash his face in.

Ok fine, I didn’t smash his face in but I really wanted too!

Anyhoo, I dressed and went back to his ‘meeting room’ and sat in front of him while he proceeded to tell me that he can not do the surgery I wanted because I was EVER SO ROUND.

ARGH!

Right, he says to me that in order to do the operation the he and I want to have done he wants me to lose 10 kilos by January 10th.

I’m not sure if you remember he wanted me to lose over 20 Kilos previously but I would be dead if I tried to do that so, we are negotiating now like a car buyer v’s a car salesman. Mr Kollias is the Salesman ok?

We go back and forth for a while and agree on a 7.5 Kilo weight loss for him to do the surgery. That means I have to be below 75 kilos by January 10th, 2017.

Oh so easy I hear you say. IT IS NOT EASY I SCREAM BACK AT YOU!

Ok fine, I’ll try to calm down but let me finish with the conversation with the ever so amazing Mr K.

I tell him that I tried to lose weight for him from our previous catch up which resulted in breaking two bones in my ankle.

He says, hmmm, that’s really just an excuse.

I say, well, I am a coealiac and don’t eat any junk food… and he just glares at me.

I then tell him I have lost 2 kilos recently and he says, two kilos is not a weight loss, it is a poo! and then proceeds to blow a raspberry at me!

Then, I tell him I have started taking duromine and he tells me that chemicals are NOT the answer.

Right about now I should be receiving a bloody award for ‘not murdering’ someone.

There are no awards coming my way, no cameras and bunches of flowers or miracle weight loss fairy dust, just Mr K looking at me.

So, I say to the ever so amazing Mr Kollias, “What do you suggest I do?” and his reply, (get ready to inhale a big disgusted gasp”

“stop eating”

OMG, is that even legal? Are you aloud to say that to me?

Well, I think yes. BUT, the problem is, now that I am taking this Duromine (appetite suppressant which I think is broken) my meal sizes have reduced, I’m not snacking anywhere near as much as before blah blah blah….. and then I quietly, under my breath, say….. Do you think I should stop drinking alcohol?

Well, doesn’t that open the bloody flood gates?! Out it all comes from the Breast Cancer God of South Australia telling me if I stop drinking today, I’ll lose 3 Kilos in a week and then I’ll lose another 3 kilos in the next three weeks which is almost at my goal weight for the surgery!

He is looking at me like I am some very backward hick born child!

I haven’t even told him how much I drink (Thank Goodness!)

So, There we have it peeps.

As I sit here, looking at my lovely glass of sparkling wine, I know that it is one of the last as I HAVE TO LOSE THIS WEIGHT. Not just for Mr Kollias but for myself to have the surgery I want.

There is an alternative surgery involving using my back fat with expanders and then silicon blah blah but no, that isn’t what I want.

I want the stomach one, where there will be no artificial products in my body.

After all of the chemo and radiation, I am thinking I would like to repair my body with my body.

So, There we have it.

I have been angry, sad, angry again and everything in between since my appointment with Mr James Kollias on Wednesday but, at the end of the day, he is only doing what is best for me.

What really shits me through all of this is, I forgot to tell my amazing and incredible surgeon about the lump I was worried about! Thankfully he had done a thorough examination while I was there of good ol’ rightie and obviously didn’t find anything to be worried about.

Sorry it has been so long since my last post. Thank you for all of the ‘behind the scenes’ messages and in my face messages.

Love to you all. Stick with me. I am doing this ok? I am going to give it my all to lose that darn 7.5 kilos.

A thank you to the Encore Program for taking me in. I am going to fill you all in about this Encore Program from the YWCA soon.  Hopefully, work works with me on this one 🙂

I don’t do shout out’s very often do I?  I am going to today.

My shout outs are…

Veronica Stanbridge : for listening to me sook and cry and worry about the stupid lump that turned out to be nothing. I know how hard this is for you to relive this horrible disease after your amazing sister Maggie passed away from it. Veronica ‘Amazing’ Stanbridge is in the black 🙂

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Mandy Azzam: Yep, I might know when you are not coping with things but you give it back knowing when I am not doing so well. I love that you leave me be until our lunch dates when I let it all out.

Tamara Martin: You always know when I’m having a bad day. Not through my actual voice but through the voice of our emails. Thankyou for knowing when I don’t want to talk but really want to talk. You know me too well.

Uniden Digital Camera

My bestie Tam

Everyone in my life means so much to me. Please don’t be displeased to not find your name here but it is Friday night after a huge week at work and, it has been a tough week for me. Everyone who is in my life, with true honesty and love (eg: no backstabbing or bullshit) means so much to me.

xx

Soon to be ‘two boobed bailey’