Another stop on Reconstruction Lane
I saw Dr. Hotter (plastic surgeon) last week to schedule the next and hopefully last phase of surgical reconstruction, which is to get nipples. (You can giggle if you want. Nipple is a funny word.) When you get the initial reconstructive surgery there is A LOT going on and things have to settle in and heal before they do skin grafts for reconstruction. It’s pretty cool, though, because they will use skin from my hips – translate that to my hips will get a little smaller – to make the nipples. It’s all a complicated explanation but in the end I’ll have nipples and slightly smaller hips. TA-DAAAA!
He has also graciously offered to remove my port and fix my scar, which looks like the butchers who put it in used a church-key can opener as their only surgical instrument. Sounds good so far, huh? The hitch is that he won’t do the surgery until after my next trip to MD Anderson, which is August 30-31. I’m having a repeat bone scan to follow up on the whole “Benign Fibrous Dysplasia” issue. My doctor there is slightly more suspicious than my doctor here so she’s doing a follow up. Dr. Hotter said he could just cut out the problem rib if my oncologist wants to biopsy it. Yikes!!
You don’t know how valuable your body parts are to you until someone mentions removing them. Right before my mastectomies I fell in love with my old, saggy boobies. I thought they were the best boobies ever! And who knew that I would miss those twenty five lymph nodes so much? I would buy some on the black market if a transplant of those suckers would work. I have to wear a compression sleeve all day every day and it’s hot out there! And, the heat makes the lymphedema worse anyway. My point being I really don’t want to lose any more body parts.
More than that, though, I don’t want to do anymore chemo. Or radiation. So if I need to lose a rib to avoid those two things then so be it. I am in a place of acceptance, for the moment, that the new normal in my life is an unpredictable, ever-changing circumstance. Which is probably what the old normal was, too, I just didn’t recognize it that way.
The other issue I have still been grappling with is whether or not to continue hormone therapy (Tamoxifen or the like) because of the side-effects. I have been doing research and asked my doctor at MD Anderson what the benefit is in my specific situation of taking them. She said they lower my chance of recurrence by 40%. Since that’s a pretty significant number I will remain on something as long as I can. I am struggling with acceptance in this area because the two drugs I have already tried make me feel a bit physically disabled and mentally not like myself. And I think I have a touch of denial about the issue of recurrence, and sometimes even a touch of denial about ever having had cancer in the first place. Like that was all a bad dream from which I have now awoken. But it wasn’t a dream, and I’ll keep putting one foot in front of the other, making the best choices I can for my time, place, and circumstance.