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Advice needed please!

22 REPLIES 22
Weeannie1
Member

Re: Advice needed please!

On a lighter note Gay, if you need someone to donate fat for a second op, look no further. The way I'm going at the mo, I reckon I could help out more than a few ladies on this site with that problem!!! 🙂 x x x
GBC
Member

Re: Advice needed please!

Hi Toughieone
I have to admit to wishing I could have had bilateral diep rather than finding Badboy BC in the other breast further down the line and then having limited recon options because my tummy leftovers had been thrown away! I therefore completely understand where you are coming from re a double mastectomy. I didn't like to ask though so my advice would be to push for it if you think it's what you really want and do all the recovery at one time and reduce risk of new primary in other breast. Especially at your age. I'm a fair bit older at 56.
Re the recovery - I'm now Day 7 after surgery and beginning to see that the sort of timings they give for getting back in the physical swing of things are about right but I'm sure I'm on the earlier timescale ie. if advice is that you should be able to do something in 2-4weeks I'm sure I'll be at the two-week mark rather than four but things like your age, body fitness etc. will of course influence that. I'm already feeling improving energy levels and know I will want to tackle all sorts of activities (not heavy lifting of course) very soon. Meanwhile it is all very doable pain and discomfort-wise. Minimal pain which is only caused by my lower back as it wants to straighten when I walk and I'm not allowed to yet. You do however need good support and the option to just step to one side for a few weeks and just think of number one. I'm so lucky as wonderful husband, no work responsibilities and children all left home but offering huge support. In fact I'm actually enjoying this rehab time, reading, watching movies, social networking etc. totally without feeling guilty. Fantastic. It is a big op and big recovery but in my opinion fairly easy to cope with and worth every minute of discomfort. I'm still really loving my new boob and completely fat-free tummy. They are amazing.
Gx
Toughieone
Member

Re: Advice needed please!

Reading this thread with interest. I'm due to have final chemo on Thursday followed by further surgery. Saw surgeon today and discussed surgery options and I'm now more confused than ever! I asked about double mastectomy as at age of 41 I'm so scared of going through all this again. Said it was an option but not really one he would recommend at this stage. Now need to make decision about implant or DIEP. I've put on quite a bit of weight since starting treatment so the thought of the tummy tuck is quite appealing! But scared about the recovery time and discomfort, that and the surgery time, especially if I opt for double. It's so hard to know what to do!! Sometimes wish the surgeon would just tell me there wasn't an option!!
NAZ
Member

Re: Advice needed please!

GBC, i have bookmarked your reply to Weeannie (if you don't mind). Your attitude towards Badboy BC is excellent and I am inspired by your words. I started to stuggle with BB BC, 3 years after my DX (don't ask me why, could be something to do with less than satisfactory reconsructive surgery first time around) and since then, I  have struggled with some DARK thoughts about my body and the future. I am now trying to see my scars as something good (survival) and try look forwards instead of backwards.

 

Indeed we are ARE survivors and have a whole lot of living to do!

 

Thank you so much and all the best going forwards with your recovery.

 

Naz xxx

GBC
Member

Re: Advice needed please!

Ah thank you Ann. Yes we are survivors (of probably a lot more than what I call Badboy BC!) I do actually now feel able to deal with the BC like other major worries we have in life like, say, when your adult children go travelling across the world and visiting all sorts of potentially dangerous places. The fact is the worst thing you could imagine could definitely happen. But hopefully most of us don't let that define how we cope with life. If we did we would need some major mental health care. We have to say "Yes it could happen" and then park it on one side and live life positively and looking forward to them coming home safely. I have now managed, at long last, to feel exactly the same about Badboy BC. Yes it could come back but hopefully it won't and anyway in the meantime I've got a whole lot of living to do so I'll put that thought to one side and get on with it. Gay x
Weeannie1
Member

Re: Advice needed please!

Hi Gay,
Just wanted to add that you seem to have been through so much but still come across as being incredibly strong and positive. Keep it going girl. You've certainly inspired one fellow bc sufferer! (Or dare I say survivor?!). Many thanks again, Ann x x x
Weeannie1
Member

Re: Advice needed please!

Thank you so much gay & jillybee for your positive posts. It sounds as if the DIEP flap will be the best option for me too. I've really struggled with the way my boob looks since the WLE and would like as natural a boob as is humanly poss. I do have a problem with my belly skin because I do have lots of stretch marks due to pregnancy. How I wish I'd looked after my skin better now, but hey ho, far too late for that one. I do hope all continues to go well for you lovely ladies. It's so nice of both of you to take the time to tell me your experiences. Take care, Ann x x x
GBC
Member

Re: Advice needed please!

Oh sorry I totally forgot to mention one of the most important bits. I'm a 36DD and PS thought he wouldn't be able to get more than a 36C from my belly fat but, although some of it is probably swelling, my new boob is currently bigger than the other floppy, breast-fed three children one and although he needs to wait a few months to see how it all softens, drops and settles down he thinks I may need liposuction on new boob to get the shape right and just an uplift on right breast. It all sounds good to me . . .
GBC
Member

Re: Advice needed please!

Hi Ann
Well this very upbeat message comes from someone on Day 6 after DIEP flap operation who is absolutely over the moon. I just cannot believe how lucky I am to have had the operation. I had a delayed left breast reconstruction (2 years after initial diagnosis) on 11 November and here I am lazily still in bed looking at my lovely new cleavage and feeling so positive about the future. I was in operating theatre for 8 hrs despite it being a single recon but I am told my PS is a perfectionist. It has certainly paid off as I LOVE my new boob. It felt part of me straight away, is a lovely shape and I am lucky enough to have had no stretchmarks on my tummy so it is lovely and smooth and tanned like the rest of my body. I can see it is going to be a bit of a recovery but feel I am already over the worst. I was out of bed on Day 2 and had all drains and catheter out and now gradually increasing walking (hobbling bent over) around and doing all my arm and tummy exercises religiously. The pain has been minimal right from the beginning or perhaps I should say well-controlled as I am now just taking paracetamol but that is not for my surgery scars, it's for my poor old lower back which is crying out to stand up straight and I'm not allowed to until the surgeon tells me I am healed enough to stand up straight and hopefully that will be next week.

A little background about my physique - I have been more than a stone over my preferred weight since my chemo but in readiness for the diep op I have been keeping all my "belly fat" and once I got my operation date a few weeks ago working really hard to grow it a bit more (extra birthday cakes, second helpings etc). I'm currently a size 14, 5'10" and pretty fit (cycling, golf, walking, yogalates) but I did have a fair bit of flab round belly. Let's say I could pinch a fair few inches. I have just weighed myself this morning and I'm 12st 3lbs and now I've got a lovely flat stomach I want to reduce and tone the rest of the body so I'm more of a 12/14 rather than 14/16.

Psychology, to be quite honest, although I know everyone looks at me and thinks wow she's just so positive and sailed through all her BC treatment (mastectomy, chemo, rads after Stage 3a IDC with 6cm tumour and 3 nodes involved) I have been a secret hypochondriac and absolutely totally negative about my survival odds. Until now that is! I really do feel the diep op has changed everything.

My oldest friend died of breast cancer just 8 months before my diagnosis when her bc returned 13 years after diagnosis and when she was just thinking of reconstruction. Then five months before my diagnosis another friend died of bc after five years of treatment. To say I have negative experiences of breast cancer and feelings is an understatement. I don't tell people but I have truly believed that it is only a matter of time. Now however I really do feel I can move on (and that's just a few days after op before I get my new breast in it's full glory and matching up work done). I honestly now think "whatever will be, will be". In the meantime I'm going to get on, live life to the full and enjoy my lovely new body. I can't wait to put together a new wardrobe that shows off my great boobs and washboard stomach!

If you want any information about the op or any aspect of my recovery so far please do PM me. I'm more than happy to go into details but this is already a pretty long message! Good luck Ann with your decision. I think you need to be guided by the professionals on exactly what options for reconstruction types you have and what you feel happiest about and understand fully the pros of cons of each. I'm a very happy bunny with my decision.
Gay x
jillybee
Member

Re: Advice needed please!

Over time I have saline,silicone,expanders and 4 months ago,a DIEP.Yes,a long operation,however,you are not are of the time!The DIEP was the best for me,in the end.Flat tummy,and even looking breasts(bilateral)and a few post op problems with seroma building up,felt great.Swimmng after 6 weeks!very little pain involved as well......best of luck in whatever route you choose.
Weeannie1
Member

Re: Advice needed please!

Many thanks again Belinda. Because I'm going for the double, I shouldn't have the same problem. At the moment I'm a 34G, so am hoping that I will have smaller boobs after reconstruction. The tummy scar doesn't really bother me since my bikini wearing days are will and truly over! It all certainly sounds pretty positive though. Have a couple of weeks to mull things over before I have to make a decision. Will post when I've made my mind up. Hope your recovery continues and that your haematoma doesn't give you any more problems. Take care, Ann x x x x
belinda64
Member

Re: Advice needed please!

Hi Ann

Well, to be honest it's a very different shape to my own boob in that it is rounded and doesn't droop! So I think I may go for the uplift option to my own breast in a few months. Not discussed it with PS yet though.

BUT I think once I am wearing a normal bra again, nobody will be able to tell. I am just happy that I have something there and that it is "natural". I have no nipple either, probably won't bother.

It looked awful 2 weeks after surgery, swollen, bruised - I felt like elephant woman but I didn't realise that was the haematoma effect. It looks so much better now.

The tummy scar is very long - from outer hip to outer hip but it is really low and I am now massaging it every day (I had tape on for 4 weeks).

Feel free to ask any more questions.

xx

Weeannie1
Member

Re: Advice needed please!

Hi Belinda,

Thank you so much for taking time to reply. That sounds so positive. I'm 51 myself, so no spring chicken! But I am fairly fit and although I did smoke, I gave it up 2 years ago so my surgeon reckons that won't be a factor. Feel that probably the DIEP flap will probably be the route I'll go down. I realise it is early days, but are you happy with the way your reconstruction looks so far?

Ann x x
belinda64
Member

Re: Advice needed please!

Hi Ann

I am 5 weeks on from one side mastectomy and immediate DIEP flap reconstruction. It is very early days but I am so glad I made the decision.

I had to go back in two weeks ago as I had a haematoma and my PS decided the best thing would be to take me back in and do a bit of a clean up / drain. It did build up again and I am having ultrasound and drain once a week at the moment. It is definitely settling down though.

I too was concerned about the length of the op and that it wouldn't work but I am fairly fit and healthy and a non-smoker so decided to go for it. I turned 50 the week before the op. I also told myself that so many women have it done that it must be safe!

I can honestly say that I was never in a lot of pain, just discomfort and I feel fortunate to still have a bump!

If you have any questions, just ask,

Belinda

xx

Weeannie1
Member

Re: Advice needed please!

Hi Rosie,

Thanks for your advice. I'd been involved with the April thread way back in June last year. Have kept up on all the news though by popping in every so often to read all the April threads. I'm so glad that you're all doing well.

My heart is telling me to plump for DIEP flaps,but it's the minimum 8 hour op that's putting me off! That and the fact that 1in10 ops fail, and the thought of going through all that for nothing fills me with dread. The implants might be a better option, since the op is not as long, but my head is telling me that I might not be as pleased with the outcome as I would with the DIEP flaps. Decisions, decisions!

Thanks again for your advice. It certainly helps to hear both the plus and minus points from people who've gone through reconstruction.

Take care and I hope you get your expanders out soon.

Ann x x
rosie14
Member

Re: Advice needed please!

Hi Ann I elected for bi mx too as I am well into my 50's and I wouldn't want to go through all of this again. The surgeon suggested the best thing for me would be to have tissue expanders put in during the surgery then they would be gently inflated over the coming weeks preparing my body for silocine implants. I have now had the expanders in for 4 months and have found them extremely uncomfortable. I am currently having radiotherapy which is making the skin go even tighter and the radiographers say this is what is making them even more uncomfortable. I just can't wait to get them out which will be the new year now! Not all ladies experience so much discomfort I am just unlucky! My surgery was done very soon after chemo because of the aggressive nature of my cancer so,I wasn't in a very good state for the op and I am sure this has made things so difficult for me. There are different types of expanders mine have the port handing down inside me and it feels like a big stone either side when trying to sleep!
Don't rush into your decision read and ask people about their experiences but above all take the advice of your surgeon!
Good luck!👍
Weeannie1
Member

Re: Advice needed please!

Thanks for your reply Brewster.

I have 2 friends who have had breast cancer and both chose the non-reconstruction route. I wish I could look at my own body and accept that what has happened has happened, as they have done. But for me, it's just too hard. I applaud your decision to do the same, whatever the reason.

I will certainly post to let you know my decision, and I wish you well with your own future op. Take care Ann x x
Brewster
Member

Re: Advice needed please!

Hi Ann

Not sure if this is any advice for you but I have chosen to go for straightforward bilateral without recon. Long story but recon comes with a big risk for me so that has made my mind up. Recon seems to be very successful these days no matter which option you take. But it is a very personal thing and not without its problems. Whatever you go for, if you go for recon the have to be prepared for a few bumps along the way unless you are lucky and sail through. Just weigh up all your options and go with your gut instinct. It will be right for you. Best of luck and keep us posted xxxx
Weeannie1
Member

Re: Advice needed please!

Thank you so much Naz for taking the time to reply.

The thing is, that surgeons can give loads of info, but there's nothing like personal experience to give you an idea of what's best. Just so confused about which option to choose.

Thank you again and I hope all's going well with you.

Ann x x x
NAZ
Member

Re: Advice needed please!

Hi Weeannie

 

Well, i had the LD flap reconstruction 3 years ago now. It is basically where some muscle is taken from your back and tunnelled round to the front to form a breast. I then had a small implant inserted later on, followed by an uplift on my healthy breast, nipple reconstruction and tatoing of the areola. All in all, it is not too bad. Dressed, no one can  tell i have had a reconstruction, undressed, you can tell easily. I have quite a bit of scarring on both  breasts and a scar on my back which is hidden by my bra strap.

 

I have 0 mobility problems and can do everything i did before. My back is tight at times as is the recon.

I was driving after about 4 - 5 weeks.

 

The thing i struggle with most, is the numb feeling. I am STILL getting my head round the fact that it passes for a breast, but isn't (but that is me).

 

I would recommend that you pick the brains of a GOOD PS and ask for his/her recommnedations, as there are a few options as you know, to consider these days. Some ladies on here have had DIEP with good results, others have had the tissue expander, so it all depends what is most suitable for you and what your expectations are from a reconstruction. Are you just wanting symmetry, or do you want as natural feeling breast as possible, quick recovery, are you willing to compromise the back muscle  (some women fear they will lose back strength), how do you feel about where your scars will be and the size of them?? All of these form part of the process when considering which type of recon to go for, hence the need for a good PS to talk the talk with you.

 

The recon journey can be long, so be prepared to have to take some time out of your life to recover physically and emotionally.

 

Wishing you all the very best and i hope some of the lovely ladies come and chat to you soon.

 

Naz xxx

 

 

 

 

Weeannie1
Member

Re: Advice needed please!

Hi Jo,

Many thanks for that.

Ann
Jo_BCC
Member

Re: Advice needed please!

Hi Weeannie1

 

While you are waiting for replies from your fellow forum users, I have put for you below links to some of BCC's publications/information regarding breast reconstruction which I hope you find helpful.

 

http://www2.breastcancercare.org.uk/publications/treatment-side-effects/breast-reconstruction-bcc7

 

http://www.breastcancercare.org.uk/breast-cancer-information/treating-breast-cancer/surgery/reconstr...

 

An animated guide to reconstruction:

http://www.breastcancercare.org.uk/breast-cancer-information/treating-breast-cancer/surgery/reconstr...

 

Take care,

Jo, Moderator

Weeannie1
Member

Advice needed please!

Hi ladies,

I have decided to go for an elective bilateral mastectomy due to not being able to get on with my life. Every time I undress, I'm reminded of the trauma my body has gone through, so have made my decision. My big problem is which type of reconstruction to go for. There are so many options that my head is in a spin! My mother had breast cancer and had a mastectomy on her right side and had an implant put in, but that was in the 1990s, so things have moved since then. So lovely ladies, can any of you give me advice on reconstruction?

Any replies will be gratefully received.

Thanks for reading and wishing you all well, Ann x x