After experiencing complications from breast reconstruction, I’ve decided to go “fabulously flat” and evict my implants.
Over the course of four years battling breast cancer, I’ve had 10 surgeries already (four biopsies included because they are mini surgeries, I swear). Out of those 10 surgeries, five are reconstruction related, making half of my breast cancer surgical history trying to fix how my fake breasts look.
Going under the knife multiple times to having drains every single time in order to “hopefully have it better than the last” has gotten me nowhere, other than frustrated and with mismatched frumpy messed up breasts.
My sixth reconstruction surgery is going to be the last: I am epically going flat!
I am so done with this obsessed culture in breast cancer of “Let’s get you new boobs!”
Sure, I fell for it. When I was first diagnosed, nobody really talked to me about going flat. That wasn’t an option that was even on the table at my plastic surgeon appointment, at my breast surgeon’s appointment or anywhere else. At 30 years old, I gave into the breast-obsessed culture we have in this country and thought, “If I am going to go through all of this, why not get new perky breasts out of it?”
Nobody informs the patient it might take several surgeries, or that the implants could fail. No one tells you that after so much radiation to one or both breasts, the skin can become rubbery, and thus, not heal correctly, and leave so much deformed. There is no literature given to you as a patient on how these surgeries might not work, or what things could happen outside of the norm.
My first reconstruction surgery was my double mastectomy with a little reconstruction, and expanders put in, so my skin could slowly adapt and expand over time. The one after was “exchange surgery” to remove the expanders that had been living with me through radiation, and to be swapped out with implants.
The three remaining surgeries I had were to correct each time my left implant (the side where my cancer was, and I had radiation) had fallen out of sync, and into my armpit. I have lymphedema, so I have a nice crater in my left armpit that has healed some over time, but it has been a challenge to fill. So much credit goes to my plastic surgeon, but truly, nothing could stop my left implant from falling slowly towards that crater.
The final straw of all this nonsense, was last summer when I decided to go look for more options about reconstruction with lymphedema. I remained hopeful and had four opinions scheduled among top research cancer hospitals in Chicago, and out of state. All four opinions landed in the very same spot of what I was left to do: have a flap surgery to take skin from either my stomach or back and create new skin for my breast. This would remove the old, radiated skin, and give my body a fighting chance to have better skin, and a better outcome for success. But the catch was that healing time is super long, I’m stage 4 and I would have to be off my lovely meds for a while. Those were lots of risks I had to consider.
Fast forward to my choice now: going flat. instead of the flap surgery I was recommended. No matter how I tried, I could NOT see myself having that surgery, and being successful. I was not comfortable with the risks, and it left a bad feeling in my stomach. After my misdiagnosis, port removal surgery, and other risky events have occurred, I avoid medical risks if I can. I advocate for myself, and I was NOT going to get behind another recommended surgery to cosmetically MAYBE work.
Flat offers freedom, flexibility and fierceness, beyond the obvious of fantastically fabulous. By choosing this surgery, I am no longer anxious or scared of what will happen. I do not worry about what I will look like after. I have the uttermost respect for all patients who have chosen to go flat — you are my heroes. I wish I had done it sooner, only because I’d be having relief of discomfort.
Wholeheartedly, I do not regret getting implants, as they taught me valuable lessons, and why I don’t need them. They gave me the confidence I lost and helped me feel like I woman till I gained back my hair and myself. Now, I no longer need these curves, and ultimately, it taught me the greatest lesson: it was always within me, I’ve fabulous and fierce all along.
July 21 is eviction day!
With love, Liz/Sunshine
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