As some of you may remember, my mom had a double mastectomy in February. She had the surgery as a result of being BRCA 1 positive, which means she has a significantly higher chance of developing breast and ovarian cancer in her lifetime due to a gene mutation that she inherited from my grandma. Instead of just waiting for cancer to possibly come (since the chances are super high), she had risk reducing surgery. She had her ovaries removed last November.
When she had her operation earlier this year, the surgeons left enough skin for implants. But before implants, the skin must be stretched. So a majority of her breast tissue, skin and nipples were removed and these plastic things called expanders took the place right under her skin.
The idea is that keeping living tissues under tension causes new cells to form and the amount of tissue to increase. The expanders create that tension. After the expanders are in place, saline solution is injected into the spot every few weeks to further stretch the skin. This is a long and painful process.
After the skin is stretched, one last surgery is done and implants are put in place and there you have it…new boobies and very low chances of developing breast cancer. It’s a lot easier said than done, believe me.
Mom was going this route after her mastectomy. But after a few weeks, an infection occurred. For a few days, she was having lots of weird colored, funky smelling drainage from her incision sites. Mom and dad went back and forth to the ER, and were told that it’s doesn’t look too bad, to just keep and eye on it and go home. What was left of her breasts grew very red and she was in pain.
Then something terrible happened, her breast literally split open at the incision site. The hole was about the size of a nickle, and you could see the blue expander through it. Fluid poured out of the site.
Thankfully, my brother was home when this happened. He immediately drove mom to the Naval hospital in Bethesda. I left work. My dad rushed to the hospital the second school was out (he’s a teacher).
To make a long and dramatic story short, mom had emergency surgery to remove the expanders and clean out the infection. It was one of the scariest days of my life. We all sat in the waiting room together not knowing what was going on, or why this happened.
Mom had to begin her recovery all over again. It’s been a hard year for her. And it has taken a long time for her to feel normal and healthy again. Some days were better than other’s. And through it all, she stayed so strong and positive despite the fact that a lot of the time she wasn’t feeling good.
So after healing up totally, mom talked with us all and decided to forget about the reconstruction route and go totally flat. This means having nothing up top – no expanders, no implants, no extra skin, nothing. She will also get her scars cleaned up, since the surgeons went in pretty quickly during her infection.
Right now, as I type, she is having that surgery. She’s nervous of course. Sometimes she thinks that she should have tried reconstruction again. But there is no guarantee that she wouldn’t have gotten another infection, or had more complications.
So it’s officially adios tatas. The only time she will have breasts, is when she’s wearing clothes and has inserts on.
It’s scary to think about and I feel sad that she had to make this decision. I know she much rather have no breasts and be healthy then develop breast cancer, so it’s worth it. I just wish none of this stuff had to happen to her.
She’s a brave lady and so strong. I just hope and pray that this is the final surgery for a long time. She deserves to have fun and be healthy. Hopefully, with this surgery, she can move on and we can focus on better things like going to see Twilight at midnight next week (crossing my fingers she feels better by then!)
Thanks for reading. And please send love my mom’s way. ❤