I thought that I was prepared for the word “Mastectomy” when I walked into my surgeons office the following week. I had done my research and I knew because I had radiation on both breast , my options were limited. I am not surprised. She describes the surgery and draws a sketch of what it will look like. I am nodding my head but I cannot make the translation from that to my body. Oh no, that is not what I want. I looked at Jack and I could tell that he was as shaken as I was. He had never seen a picture of what a mastectomy looked like.
As soon as we got home I got back onto the computer to research my options. I came across a site that showed a surgery called a skin and nipple sparing mastectomy. It is a technique in which the tumor and breast tissue are removed while sparing the skin and nipple. Okay. This sounds interesting. The only issue was that because radiation causes the skin to be less pliable , this technique might not be a viable option for me. But I can ask. Nothing ventured, nothing gained. Right?
The next day I saw my Oncologist and asked if she thought I might be eligible for this procedure. “Absolutely” she said and referred me to an amazing plastic surgeon. Dr Pranay Parikh was so warm and kind. He did not rush through my appointment, even though I knew he was a very busy man. He spent a lot of time explaining the surgery in detail to Jack and I. He listened to all my concerns and carefully answered all my questions. He then examined me and fortunately he was confident that that skin was healthy enough for the surgery. I also decided that I would have a small implant placed at the same time. I say small for two reasons. First I have never been large chested and had no desire to be larger. Second, Dr Parikh told me that if I stayed on the smaller size that it would eliminate the need for expanders (which meant one less surgery). It also decreased my chances of rejection. I basically told him that I wanted a bump with a nipple. Unfortunately he would not be able to save my nipple because the location of the cancer, but it still would be my skin and areola. Oh well you can’t have everything.
Dr. Parikh did so much to calm my fears and instill in me a confidence that I could get through this. In fact, when we got home from my appointment, I told Jack that I had decided to have both breast removed. This decision surprised even me but I did not want to be back next year going through this again!
I knew that this was totally my decision to make. Even though Jack has always been there for me, he acknowledges this is my body, my disease, my decision. Jack’s response was “Good. Because all I want is you.” Gotta love this man!