Monday, October 11, 2010


I've been asked a lot of questions concerning my procedure and treatment, so I'm going to do my best to answer them all here.  Some answers will be based off of medical information I was given and some based on my own personal decisions.

Why did you chose to go the route of TE/implants instead of TRAM or DIEP flap?

The flap was NEVER an option for me as my surgeon said I did not have enough body fat to 'fill' two breasts.  And even if I was, accordingly to medical data I was given, patients who have undergone bilateral breast reconstruction with TRAM flaps (i.e. reconstruction of both breasts) require sacrifice of both rectus muscles and tend to have permanent abdominal strength loss. For that reason, many plastic surgeons now frown upon bilateral breast reconstruction with TRAM flaps.  

Would you tell someone who is BRCA with a strong history of breast cancer to go ahead and have their breasts removed?

My sister asked me this question after watching the heartache I went through when I got my diagnosis.  It's a really tough question as everyone feels differently about it.  Immediately following surgery, I told her 'HECK NO! Don't put yourself through this kind of pain.'  But I know for me, when the doctors told me my chance of reccurence between going with a lumpectomy or doing the mastectomy, and the drastic difference in the recurrence rate...lumpectomy was not really an option in my mind.  So, for someone to not have cancer but know they carry a mutated gene, and say the oncologist says in your lifetime you have a 75% chance of developing breast cancer, it's a matter of if a person could handle losing their breast over hearing the words, "You've got cancer!"  Of course even after mastectomy there is still a chance of recurrence.  There are three types of breast cancer recurrence: local, regional, and distant.With local recurrence, cancerous tumor cells remain in the original site, and over time, they grow back. A regional recurrence of breast cancer is more serious than local recurrence because it usually indicates that the cancer has spread past the breast and the axillary (underarm) lymph nodes. A distant breast cancer recurrence, also known as a metastasis (spread), is the most dangerous type of recurrence. With this type of recurrence, breast cancer spreads to distant regions of the body, such as the bone, lung, liver, or brain.  For me a chance of recurrence is only about 5% now, and I have to have close monitoring for a long while, but that decrease in risk was worth losing my breast as opposed to having a 50% chance of recurrence with the lumpectomy.  

What causes recovery from this surgery to be so painful?

I honestly think the majority of the pain is caused because the tissue expander is placed under the chest muscle, along with what doctors call 'phantom pain'.  During mastectomy, small nerves are cut between the breast tissue and the skin.  This causes the neural connections in the brain to undergo neural plasticity (reorganization).  This process, along with spontaneous firing of electrical signals from the ends of the cut nerves, cause phantom sensations.

This one cracks me up, but I've been asked SEVERAL times...How much weight did you lose when you got your breasts cut off?

I actually hadn't stepped on a scale until yesterday, and it was only because my sister asked me that exact question when she came over. My mom and I both had to laugh when my sister asked this, because an hour before I told my mom I couldn't believe how many people had actually asked me that. I'm sure if you were smaller chested to start out with you really wouldn't see much of a difference in your weight.  I was a 'D' cup before having my surgery and granted I do have 3/4 a litter of fluid in my tissue expanders already,(I'm not giving my specific numbers...what girl does that? lol) but I will tell you that I am 6 pounds lighter than I was before surgery. Losing 6 pounds is never a bad thing, right?! haha

If anyone else has any questions, please, feel free to email me. I truly believe if my experiences reach even one person going through the same thing or someone who knows some going through the same thing and it helps them to know how to talk to the person going through it (I know a few of my friends have stated that they really just didn't know what to say because they were afraid talking about it would upset me when I say, talking it out really helps!), then it was was all worth it.  I believe God leads people to your life sometimes that otherwise wouldn't be there had certain situations never occurred.  I've met some amazing women who have 'talked' me through my bad days.  Women who've been in my shoes and truly know how I feel, and to say the least, inspire me every single day.


  1. I am just stopping by from SITS and I am so sad to read of this journey you are on. I love that you are fighting hard with your family beside you. Will pray for you tonight.

    And you are SO right! Losing 6 pounds is NEVER a bad thing, right?

  2. Wow, 6 pounds. I wanted to ask that too, but thought it rude. Glad someone else asked. I too am an upper D cup, so it's kind of neat to know what they might weigh. :) Useless knowledge I guess, LOL.

    I think it's nice you can talk about it and answer peoples questions, even if the answers you give are completely medical related and not personal. That may help someone just as much.

    I think the image of the tissue expander thing weirds me out a little, mainly because I guess I have never seen it. I imagine this big metal thing under the area where your breasts were stretching your skin really bad like it's going to pop open. I know, probably not right and I could probably google it, but it seems like it would be painful no matter what.

    Take it easy girl!

  3. lol- i wouldn't be able to lose any weight from my A- cups!