I don’t know what I thought the reconstruction process would be like at the beginning of my cancer journey but I can tell you I certainly didn’t imagine it to be the way that it has gone. What I thought would be something that would be done sooner rather than later hasn’t even really begun yet. It will be two years since my diagnosis that reconstruction will hopefully, finally begin.
After my bilateral masetecomy, I had expanders immediately placed. Because radiation was still to follow my expanders were palced under the muscle. I think this made the expanders an extra level of uncomfortable. Then by the end of radiation everything had become even more uncomfortable. Radiation really had a way of shrinking the skin when it wasn’t burning the skin. So by the end of radiation almost three months after the expanders had been placed I noticed that the edges of the expanders where becoming more pronounced. Now the edges where still existent because my radiation oncologist didn’t want them filled prior to radiation and my plastic surgeon wouldn’t fill them until six months after radiation ended in order to make sure that the skin was in good condition. So I pointed out to my plastic surgeion these edges, so she did a slight fill to see if it would soften the expanders. We tried it again the following week to see if another fill would help. Two fills didn’t help soften anything, in fact it may have made the edges more pronounced. So the concern then became that my body was moving the expanders around and my surgeon said we just needed to take them out before they possibly broke through the skin. It was an absolutely terrifying thought so the next week I had an implant exchange. My plastic surgeon said it was still too soon to do any sort of major work, we just needed to get something softer in my body. So we exchanged the expanders for implants about the same size.
It was an unexpected step of the reconstruction process but ultimately one that has proven to be beneficial. Much like the expanders, my body has decided that the implants are something it doesn’t want. Just slightly less uncomfortable than the expanders the implants have come with their share of issues too. Once again, especially on my left side where I had radiation my body has gone about pushing the implants around in an effort to find a position that they’re comfortable with. Almost a year later with the implants and my body is still trying to figure out what to do with these things.
So recently, I’ve taken the first steps to do the diep flap reconstruction. It’s a big surgery and really scary but the benefits are going to be so worth it. Remaining flat just wasn’t something that was going to work for me, if for no other reason than I want my clothes to look good. And we now know that implants arent’ the best because my body doesn’t like foreign objects. So sometime at the end of this year, I will have the diep flap reconstruction surgery. Two years after beginning my cancer journey I will really start the reconstruction process, something that I’m eager to do, I’ve waited much longer than I thought I would have to.
First step is CT scans to check the blood vessels. Thankful I still have my port!