My Cancer Truths; Breast Reconstruction Choices
The first thing every person asks. Did it hurt? No, it did not hurt because I have no nerve endings left in many parts of my body. The breasts being one of them.
I would like to start by sharing with you what I see when I look at this photograph, I am sure you see something very different:
- The scar left by my chemo port.
- The blue dot tattoos that mapped the lazars for my radiation.
- The skin discoloration and scarring from radiation.
- Beautiful tattoos that make it almost impossible to see the mastectomy scars (before photo at the end) . A pink feather that represents my cancer breast, placed where my nipple used to be.
It never occurred to me to cover up my scars. I didn’t think that was the point. I said from day one that I wanted full breast tattoos…sounded more fun than having 3D nipple tattoos or other faux nipple tattoos. I am an artist at heart and this just appealed to me personally. (Remember this is my choice and is not for everyone).
The surprisingly shocking truth is that I felt free from the thought of not having nipples the moment I came home and took a good look at my new ink/art. The feeling that something had been taken away from me melted away in minutes after 7 years of waiting to have this done.
Quick facts: I was diagnosed with Stage 3C (10 cm of cancer tissue and 28 lymph nodes that had matastisis) Breast Cancer in November 2007, December 2007 I had a left mastectomy with concurrent DIEP breast reconstruction (yes, you read that right, I had, and knew I would need radiation. I still had concurrent reconstruction). TAC protocol chemo. Because I was starting to trend toward problems with my Tamoxifen I choose to have a hysterectomy (they took everything). I also had my Gallbladder removed. Four years after my diagnosis I found out I carried the BRACA2 gene. I have no family history and wasn’t even a candidate for the test. SURPRISE! So I opted to have a prophylactic right mastectomy with concurrent dorsi latissimus breast reconstruction. I am currently still on adjunct meds (Tamoxifen) for ten years.
This blog is meant to share the beautiful work of Surgeons Dr. Maggie Dinome and Dr. Tracy Cordray and Tattoo artist Mo Southern. You have choices and I share mine and what is possible when surgeons work together for the best possible outcome for their patient. Also, do what feels right for you, owning your choices gives you control and the steps to “take back your life”. Grateful to all of them.