Let there be plastic surgery, boobies, ta-tas, and tummy tucks.
And lots of envy.
Some people envy me because of that glam cancer thing. After all, I was transformed — through the miracle of plastic surgery — into a bionic woman of sorts, a superior version of my pre-cancer self.
Here’s how the reconstruction project played out:
In The Beginning There Was Lumpectomy
The biopsy reveals I have breast cancer in my right breast, so my doctor lets me “choose” between a mastectomy or lumpectomy. He beams because I “choose” lumpectomy, or a “breast-conserving” procedure. I’ve never been vain, but dammit, I want to keep my breasts.
As a result of the lumpectomy, there’s distortion, but I can live with it.
The lab results come back, and it shows that there are dirty margins. I need a re-excision ASAP.
Lumpectomy #2. Now the surgeon is going to gouge out more breast tissue to make sure the margins are clean. I’m all for it; I want the cancer gone from that site. And he takes a nice chunk this time (and my breasts originally were not that large to begin with!), rendering my right breast completely deformed. No bras fit right anymore, and I leave bra shops in tears. I feel horrible about my body.
Lumpectomy #3. Fast forward five years or so. An MRI reveals there is a growth in that same breast. The surgeon takes another really huge helping of breast tissue out. Lucky for me, the “growth” is scar tissue; unlucky for me, I feel so mutilated, I wish I could rewind to Lumpectomy #2.
At this point I insist on a double mastectomy due to my breast cancer history, my dense breasts, the possibility of more scares, and because I am sick and tired of watching more and more chunks of my breast being taken from me.
My surgeon believes otherwise; you see, he is a breast conservationist.
So I fire him.
And then I fire a bunch of doctors who agree with him.
Then my wonderful oncologist and primary care physician agree with me. I find doctors who agree with me.
I get a double mastectomy (a DIEP flap specifically, which involves the surgeons moving fat and minimal muscle from the belly up to the breasts, plus rerouting the torso’s circulation a bit, so there’s blood flow to the breasts). The surgery takes 10 hours, and it takes me 10 weeks to recover, and a year to feel more like myself.
Now I have scars — I mean scars — and created nipples that look nothing like the ones I was born to have. My new breasts look good, especially the left one. The surgeons did the best they could with my right breast, but with all the lumpectomies and radiation, well….
Oh, and my tummy “tuck” is really a tummy bulge that hurts all the time and causes me a lot of back pain.
Don’t get me wrong. I am grateful to all the wonderful doctors who tended to me. Even the first surgeon was especially kind to me during my biopsy. I am grateful for the bra specialty shop that sold me bras that fit, as well as a great prosthesis for my right breast.
I guess when I hear the words “plastic surgery,” “boobies,” “ta-tas,” and “tummy tucks,” I tend to get a tad angry.
Just a tad.