• Decisions Decisions

    Asked by ImWorthIt on Tuesday, January 25, 2022

    Decisions Decisions

    I have really been struggling lately about a decision I need to make. I am now two years and a couple of months out from my initial diagnosis. I am just under two years out from my mastectomy. My prosthetic is supposed to be able to fit with any bra and I feel like it still slides around, so I still wear only my mastectomy bras where I can use the insert pocket. I really want to talk to my surgeon about getting the referral for plastic surgery to consider an implant BUT...1- I have recently heard a horror story from someone who got implants after a double mastectomy and had to have them removed. 2. Omicron surge is big here in SC and I don't want to risk being in hospital and/or taking any nurse from anyone who NEEDS a nurse when this is elective. 3. I don't know if it will really make me feel any better.
    With my "love/hate" relationship with my mother, I can't process this with her. Right now I am in her doghouse because I am a "fat loser" her words. Just feeling lonely.

    11 Answers from the Community

    11 answers
    • cak61's Avatar
      cak61

      Wow. That last paragraph breaks my heart. I'm sorry. No mother should say such a thing.

      When I was diagnosed at age 47 I would have had reconstruction, now at age 60 I think I would have them both removed and be done with it all. I know it would be traumatic and would affect how certain clothes would look. Maybe faced with the situation I'd decide to try implants. The thought of multiple surgeries is not appealing. Isn't it recommended to have them replaced every ten years or so as well?
      My thought is I'll go flat and have something pretty tattooed over the scars.
      It's a tough decision. I hope you find peace with it.

      4 months ago
    • Kalee's Avatar
      Kalee

      First of all, disregard what your mother has to say, I can't imagine saying something like that to my kids. This is about you and you only and what would make you feel better and you deserve to feel beautiful and whole again. Don't let someone's horror story deter you from doing what you think is right for you. What's right for one person may not be what is right for you. I, personally chose to have implants because I knew not having implants would not be right for me. As far as having them replaced every 10 years....I don't think that holds up anymore. As far as taking a nurse away from others, IF they kept you at the hospital, it would only be an overnight stay.....they may even do it as an outpatient surgery. If you had expanders already in place (as I did), when it was time for implants, it would just be a fairly simple outpatient surgery. Please, please.....speak to your plastic surgeon and your oncologist ..and then make the best decision for yourself.Godspeed to you.

      4 months ago
    • Kalee's Avatar
      Kalee

      Remember....you ARE worth it!

      4 months ago
    • omaalyce's Avatar
      omaalyce

      I did not have to struggle with that decision. I was originally going with a double mastectomy and planned to be flat, at the time I was 68. Due to a Pet scan reading that said all the cancer was gone after chemo, my surgeon changed my surgery to a lumpectomy. Unfortunately the pet scan had been incorrect and there was cancer in my nodes and breast wall, so radiation. Now, I have one side smaller than the other-I'm 73 and don't care, but I am not sure how I would have reacted in my younger years. Especially after years of being "teased" by so called friends for having very small breasts.

      I know this may sound silly but have you tried knit knockers, https://www.knittedknockers.org/ Many women have said they hated their prosthetics but found the knit knockers and liked them. It's a thought.

      I am sorry about your mother. My mother favored my brother and made it abundantly clear. She died when I was 28 of melanoma. The last 3 years of her life we were finally friends but her words and actions left me with years of low self-esteem and always trying to please. As a mother I tried to not follow in her footsteps because I never wanted my children to grow up feeing unloved and ugly. It took me many years of hard work to finally realize I am neither of those things. Words hurt and once they get in your head it is very hard to ignore them.

      I struggled in school, not because I was "stupid" it turns out I am ADHD. Due to my family inheriting this I was tested in my 50s and found out that although quirky I really had learning issues. I just learn differently. Actually when the doctor told me my IQ I burst into tears. I remember him saying, "no one has ever told you how smart you are have they". They had not.

      My mother was very hard on me and it resulted in being belittled just as your mother is doing to you. I am so sorry you are being treated this way. Please know you are not alone, there are lots of us who have an idea of what you are dealing with. I wish I could give you a hug, sending one virtually. Please know we are all here for you and let us know what you decide as we care.

      4 months ago
    • MarcieB's Avatar
      MarcieB

      I think you should, by all means, get a referral to a plastic surgeon and learn your options. I had a different dilemma, but a similar problem. I was supposed to have a mastectomy on my left side and I was planning on telling them to take both breasts because being uneven would make me crazy. But, they revised the plan after my good response to chemo and did a lumpectomy instead. So I was smaller on the left side. I didn't think it would bother me, but it really did. I mentioned it to my oncologist and she said lots of women, all ages, feel the need to even-out and she referred me to a plastic surgeon. I had a young woman plastic surgeon who was wonderful. she gave me two different options and really listened to what I wanted. she explained the surgery, but I have to admit, I should have paid more attention. When the surgery was over I was shocked by all the incisions it took to reduce my right breast. For a few days I said I would have never done it if I had realized how extensive it would be....but now I am SO glad. My left breast, where the cancer was, is not so pretty - I have scars and the nipple is pulled to one side instead of being centered. But, now that my right breast is the same size I look good in my clothes and that is what I was going for. Pain? Recovery discomfort? Sure. But, it really wasn't all that long and I would do it again in a heartbeat.

      A plastic surgeon can tell you whatever you need to know about being hospitalized during this virus stuff. It isn't always the way the media portrays it to be. And chances are you will, indeed, be an outpatient. I was, and it was fine.

      Don't listen to horror stories, you are writing your own story and YOU are a positive minded person. (and while you're at it - don't listen to your mother these days, either...) Of course, she is pushing your buttons, - she installed them.

      4 months ago
    • Bug's Avatar
      Bug

      Your last paragraph breaks my heart, too, ImWorthIt. Please don't listen to that - easier said than done, I know. I was psychologically abused by a family member (not my mother) so I get it. We care about you and support you.

      Reconstruction was not part of my experience but I guess I would talk to the plastic surgeon and get as much info as possible. It can't hurt to talk. At least then you'll have more information to make an informed decision.

      To your three points...

      The horror story... Yes, that's a tough one. I know several people who had rhinoplasty, including three in my immediate family, and they were all very happy with the results. I did it and am very unhappy - have been from day one. You really just never know. I don't know that that helps but I thought I'd relay my own experience.

      Not wanting to have surgery due to COVID and the nursing shortage... I totally get that. Does the surgery have to be done soon? Can it wait a bit? That's something to ask the plastic surgeon.

      Whether or not it will really make you feel better... I think that goes back partly to my point about getting more information. You may decide the surgery is or isn't worth it after talking to the plastic surgeon.

      Gosh, I hope this helped at least a little. Take care and please let us know what you decide.

      4 months ago
    • ChicagoSandy's Avatar
      ChicagoSandy

      Your mom's remarks are spectacularly hurtful and absolutely not valid. (Is she projecting)?

      My husband is a still-practicing cardiologist (at age 72), working at three hospitals, a prepaid union health clinic and his office. It's been brutal at the hospitals--hard to find beds & nurses for the heart attack, stroke, emergency surgery, auto accident, falls-on-ice patients. Most hospitals here have suspended elective procedures. Though we're both triple-vaxed, he just caught Omicron (which he likely caught from an unvaccinated clinic patient who probably never wore a mask on the job). I'm testing every other day. It's so bad out there that now that he had an antibody infusion and is on the mend, he is expected to break isolation and return to the hospitals as soon as he has no symptoms after 5 days--not even re-test. Nurses are coming in sick too.

      Can you do a telehealth consult with the plastic surgeon and set a surgery date far enough in the future that this latest spike in COVID is in the rear-view mirror? As to plastic surgery horror stories, you know that "the squeaky wheel gets all the grease," right? Nobody reports on things that DON'T go wrong,

      4 months ago
    • MLT's Avatar
      MLT

      I also had a unilateral Mx, couldn't keep that blob in the right place. Decided to get prophylactic Mx on other side and DIEP flap reconstruction at age 63. I did great, surgeon did such a great job that I didn't need any touch ups. Have been thankful I went this route.
      I had a very critical mother, too. Although she lightened up when I was out of the house, but I certainly understand.
      As suggested you could meet with plastic surgeons, discuss options, find one you are confident with. I went to 3.
      Wishing you all the best!

      4 months ago
    • ImWorthIt's Avatar
      ImWorthIt

      Thank you for all of your encouragement and insight. After 2 years from initial diagnosis and almost 2 years out from my Mx, I am clearly not in a hurry. I can certainly wait for surgery as long as I need to do so. I may never even do it. I don't know. It has just been the first time I have really given it any consideration. I KNOW I am not nearly out of the woods yet and will never been totally out of the woods as cancer can return any time. The first year I didn't even consider it at all, because I was not convinced that I was at all safe AND COVID was still a pretty "new" thing. Now, it's here to stay in whatever form. We just have to get used to it.

      I guess I was just looking for feedback on the experiences of others- especially those who had unilateral Mx.

      MLT, your comment was especially helpful. It seems that most people I have encountered have had bilateral mastectomies and many chose to stay flat or get both breasts done. I just haven't met that many unilateral mx people. That thing has a mind of its own sometimes. A couples of weeks ago I was really tired and just forgot to put the prosthesis on. I was lopsided all day. Thankfully, I have never had large breasts and it was cold so I had on lots of layers. Not noticeable to anyone but me. Still, it's just annoying to get to work and have a WTH moment.

      Sandy, you always bring great perspective to the table. I am not at home with my regular calendar, but I think my next follow up with my regular surgeon (head of my treatment team) is in May. I may discuss it with her this time, just to get information. I really do like her and know she will go over all of my options from HER perspective and then tell me about the plastic surgeon.

      Again, not in a hurry. This is just the first time I have given it any thought at all.

      4 months ago
    • MLT's Avatar
      MLT

      ImWorthIt, I think if I had had a bilateral Mx in the beginning I would have been fine with flat. I was also small. But trying to balance out the top was a pain, so I started researching what choices I had. Because of radiation in the past, I didn't want to try implants. Altho that was all that 1 plastic surgeon offered. Said I was too old to do flap surgery. So home to do more research, she was wrong!
      I am comfortable with my body now and pray that you will be, too.

      4 months ago
    • coolteach51's Avatar
      coolteach51

      I'm 3.5 years out of mastectomy for 1 breast. With 10 compromised lymph nodes, recovery would be hard enough without worrying about reconstruction at the same time (I was 65). Then after 16 rounds of chemo and 25 rounds of radiation, I got my protheses. I hate it. Even the lighter one for swimming is heavy and extremely uncomfortable though it is snuggly in a bra. Now at 68 I have decided that flat works better for me. The virus helped because I didn't go out that much and with a mask...like...who cares. Then my daughter pointed out a few "flat" people to me and said they were an encouraging example of survival. Sweatshirt weather is easy. If I feel like adding a little "stuffing" (not heavy plastic), I can, but I've become much more comfortable flat. Take care of yourself! Do what you want for YOU and do you really care about the opinion of someone that you don't respect? Or even strangers who might notice you? Grateful to be alive with the unknown around each corner. Maybe there is one woman out there encouraged by my bravery to go flat. NOTHING can replace the feeling of having a breast...that was my feeling about reconstruction.

      4 months ago

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