It is more important to know where you are going, than how long it takes to get there.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Out The Window...

I always considered myself a modest person. I try to never show cleavage, which unfortunately is a lot of cleavage to hide. I know, those that have it don't want it, and those that don't have it want it. Having breast cancer has thrown modesty right out the window. Last Thursday I had five different doctors give me a breast exam. By the fifth person, I felt like saying, "Alright already!" Yesterday, I had an appointment with a plastic surgeon, Dr. Chief. (He is the head of the plastic & reconstructive surgery department.) (There are no lightweights on my medical team!) Anyway, at first I had to undress, except for my panties and have pictures taken of my stomach and chest by the assistant. The first thought going through my head was "I wish I wore prettier underwear." No, they didn't get my face in the photos, and I deny that they are not pictures of me! Then after a long discussion with Dr. Chief about the different options available for reconstruction, he looked at me sans clothes, with his assistant in the room, to show me how reconstruction would look. If I had a modicum of modesty left, it shattered the window on the way out! He grabbed my belly and agreed that there was enough fat to make a breast. Great for one's self esteem. However, during our long discussion, he did call me YOUNG a couple of times. If you hear that from a plastic surgeon, it must be true.

There are two options for reconstruction, implants or a tram flap. The tram flap, which I call "trans fat", tunnels the fat from you belly up to your chest to make a breast. I think it should be called "trans fat" because you are transferring fat from your belly to your chest. (I tend to call a spade a spade - if you haven't already noticed.) Basically, you get a tummy tuck and boob job all at once. I think he said that he has been doing these procedures for 7 years. The benefit is that you are using your own tissue to make a new breast, leaving no chance of rejection, unlike a man-made device, an implant, that does have a risk of rejection. However, the recovery time is longer, and the stomach muscles are compromised - so no more much for those 200 I do every morning. I guess if I actually did the 200 sit-ups every morning, the tram flap, or trans fat, would not be possible. The silicone implants are the same as always. The only hitch is that if I have to do radiation, there is a 50% failure rate in the implants. Not good odds. If this happens, he can replace the implant with another implant or do a tram flap after radiation is completed. Radiation can also affect the tram flap by reducing the size, but the chances are much lower than 50%. Decisions, decisions. What kind of boob do I want? It is difficult to think that this is even a decision process. It seems somewhat silly to me with all that's going on in our lives and the world. I am leaning toward the tram flap.

Monday is the day surgery biopsy. If it shows cancer in the right breast too, and a double mastecomy is needed, then decision regarding reconstruction changes. I do not have enough fat for two breasts. Good news, bad news. or Bad news, good news. With double implants, I will be like every other Californian!... okay, not all women in California, only half the women in California...well, not quite half, but many.

I liked Dr. Chief. He seemed very bright and appears to be on the cutting edge of technology, but he also has a relaxed and approachable demeanor. He the first doctor to print his e-mail address on his business card. He told me to e-mail him if I have any questions or concerns. I have 15 cards from doctors in my cancer binder, and Dr. Chief's card is the only one with an e-mail address. He received a cell phone call during our meeting, and apologized for needing to take the call. I thought, okay, he is probably arranging for Red Sox tickets. But after he told the caller that he needed to call back because he was with a patient, he explained that the person was head of the group funding his lab. You never ignore the money people! I'm not sure if I mentioned this before, Mass General is a research and teaching hospital affiliated with Harvard Medical School.

Whacky thought for the day...

Why is menopause called menopause? (I haven't experienced this wonderful rite of passage yet.) Shouldn't it be called womanopause, periodopause or nomoreopause? I think it is called menopause because it is a warning for all men when questioning a woman going through it...danger: men, pause before you speak.


  1. I got a little extra in the mid section I am willing to give you, if you need a right boob.

  2. Keval,

    After forgetting to ask Lynn and Mary 100 times I finally found you on my own as I always forget how to spell your name and god knows what last name you are posted as! Anyway, My thoughts and love are with you. I had a reduction 20 yrs ago, damn, should have saved it for ya...i'm with lynn, lots in the mid section. Take care girl, will touch back... Barbara