It’s been a while since I last gave you all an update. I guess that’s good in some ways, as it means I’m not focused on the next phase of my treatment/surgery/recovery, and more focused on living my life. Because, Surprise! There is life after breast cancer, and you’ve got to go out on live it. What else are you going to do, but move on forward? I certainly am.
My range of movement in my right arm is not back to 100%, but hey, it doesn’t hurt to bend, load the dishwasher, or fold laundry. So my house is sort of/semi clean, for the moment.
My hair is long enough to color, and long enough to cut into some kind of style – which I finally did! No more chemo curls, no more gray. I’m now a super dark brunette with a mean blonde streak, with a short, Pin-Up Girl style bob cut. Whoo, hoo! I think of it as the kind of hair I have to live up to, now that I have the energy (and the eyelashes) to make an effort to look like a girl, instead of a patient. What a difference a year makes…
I have two breasts now, as you know, and mostly look normal under my clothes. It is obvious to me that I’m not exactly symmetrical, in some of the tops that I own, but I like to think that most people wouldn’t notice, if they didn’t look too closely.
My phase II is next month, where Dr. Neligan will reduce and lift my left breast, and do some fat grafting on the right. Hopefully this will result in both breasts appearing to have the same size and shape. I have been looking forward to this, for the most part. Still a longer surgery, but a shorter hospital stay. Overnight, at most. I also don’t expect to hurt as much as I did after the phase I, where I had two surgical sites. This time it’s only one (well, one and a half), and it sort of feels like familiar territory. I feel like after the phase I, phase II will be a piece of cake, relatively speaking.
Then I happened to be looking at one of the discussion boards on the breastcancer.org website, and read a post written by one of my sister flapper’s phase II, wherein she mentioned she has two drains. Head slap! Crap. I’m going to have drains again. Don’t get me wrong, I am grateful they have such a thing, as they give the fluid trying to fill the vacuum left by the surgery a place to go, until such time as the tissue heals itself. But they are also kind of like having an extra appendage. Three hands SOUNDS like a good idea when you’re wrangling kids or pots on the stove – but more often than not, you find it gets in your way when you’re trying to go about your usual activities. You have to make allowances for it, you see. More clearance when using the bathroom or getting dressed. Always worrying about where it is when you’re taking a shower, hoping you don’t catch it on something. I guess an extra hand you could get used to, but the drain you hope you never have to get used to!
I had two drains after my mastectomy, and one after the DIEP flap reconstruction (I was lucky; some women get three, or even four!). I don’t know what to expect after my Phase II. For some reason I keep focusing on the left breast, always forgetting my right breast will be getting some “tweaks” as well. And where exactly are they getting the fat, for the above mentioned fat grafting? And will those “harvest sites” need drains, too? I think I’m going to stop thinking about this now….
Hopefully my recovery will continue, and after the Phase II I’ll be done with surgery and anesthesia for the year. I’m behind the mental schedule I set for myself in February of 2013. I honestly believed I’d be complete with everything in one year. Surgery, treatment, reconstruction, recovery, and back to my old self like I was before breast cancer happened to me. Ha! I forgot, I had Stage 3 breast cancer, and aggressive treatment for 10 months, plus recovery time before I could even schedule reconstruction. I’ve been doing this for a while, and still I find myself saying “Well, this is the hard part. After this it will be easier.” As I’ve mentioned before – it’s never easier, it’s just different.
I’ll have a couple more procedures after this Phase II, but nothing like the last three surgeries, or the chemo, or the radiation. Really just cosmetic stuff, but still part of the process. And I’m sure I’ll be thinking then “Oh, I’ve already been through the hard part, this next part will be easier.” And I’m sure I’ll be just as amazed to discover yet again - it’s not any easier, it’s just different.