May 20, 2012


Three days ago, my breast prosthesis arrived. It’s not a perfect match, but it’s close enough. I have a balanced appearance now. Honestly, I really didn’t care, but others were uncomfortable seeing me with one flat side. And my clothes do fit better. It seems I did all my mourning before I lost my breast. And I truly did mourn, especially as time came to a close. Once done, it was time to move on.

It will be at least a year of healing before I can consider reconstruction. I am not eligible for an implant, but that’s okay—I am uncomfortable with that option. I must have a delicate procedure called a DIEP that calls for transplanting skin and fat from my abdomen to my chest. Microsurgery techniques will connect blood vessels to keep the transplant viable.

While I was introduced to a breast surgeon here, I’ve been considering a hospital in Texas, MD Anderson, which has a clinic dedicated to inflammatory breast cancer. When I mentioned that to someone here, she strongly encouraged me to go there for reconstruction. This is a relatively new and difficult procedure; I want to have a doctor who’s done it a lot and well. MD Anderson has that reputation. Bonus: I get a tummy tuck, something I have wanted since I had an 11½-pound baby 20 years ago. ☺ I consider that my reward for going through all this.

The undercurrent that you don’t hear much about is the uncertainty of how much time is left. The everyday-ness of life eventually overshadows it, but there it is. Of course, no one knows how much time is left. This wake-up call helps me to live each moment to its fullest and leave no wish untried. Next stop: NYC!


tornwordo said...

So true. But of course it's easier for you to latch onto that idea having gone through all of this. I hope as Serge's mom recently was told, that there is no trace left in your body the next time they check such things.

Buddy Bear said...

"Living each moment to its fullest" is an unexpected benefit to being a cancer survivor. Congratulations! I admire your courage and your determination to find something positive in this experience.

I survived a near-terminal bout of metastatic malignant melanoma when I was nineteen. thirty years ago!) From this distance, I can now say that it was the best thing that ever happened to me. I've thought about it nearly every day since then, mainly when life throws curve balls, large and small.

"Don't sweat the small stuff." It helps keep things in perspective; apart from our health and the health of our loved ones, it is all small stuff.

Cubby said...

Things are working out so well. I'm so happy for you. How is your throat? Any lasting damage?

Rox said...

What's your NYC itinerary?! OMG Go to 30 Rock and see Jimmy Fallon. He will lift your spirits right up!

You just gently reminded me to follow my heart...I'm going to listen.

Give your prosthetic a name. I vote for Trixie. "Get in my bra, Trixie! We got a life to live!"

Ur-spo said...

You are and remain a Wonder Woman.

Anonymous said...

speaking of balanced, you have managed to keep the whole experience of cancer from knocking you off the beam.
It was a great pleasure to see you recently - the highlight of my trip. You looked and sounded great, and that spark in you was fired up!
Watch out, NYC - here comes Wonder Woman!

Much Love,

Blobby said...

Naturally, I have a long term friend who works at MD Anderson. She doesn't work in that area, but I'm sure I can have her do some assisting - if that is the route you go!

BadgerBear said...

Dear Strelitzia,

I am a massage therapist at a very large regional cancer center in alabama, and have worked very closely with patients and practitioners for many years now. One of the practitioners we work with is a Physical Therapist who also practices Feldenkrais therapy - she has had a double mastectomy and has regained her movement and use very, very quickly after her surgery.

Feldenkrais is gentle movement therapy, and comes from some of the same roots as the Alexander Technique and, oddly enough, Rolfing. Feldenkrais is extraordinarily gentle and profoundly effective. Reconstructions are sometimes accompanied by long recovery times and not a little discomfort that can induce one not to move a lot - Feldenkrais helps recover your movement and get out from under the fear of moving in ways that hurt that can come with such a procedure. Check it out if you have the opportunity where you live :-) It's pretty amazing stuff.

Glad you're still with us :-)