The greatest gift.
Updated: Jun 4, 2021
And so the process begins. A really positive consultation with my plastic surgeon yesterday, and suddenly everything is moving. The mastectomy I have been manifesting hard for, could be a reality if my blood vessels are up to the job. Now sending all the positive vibes out to the universe that my partying days haven't left too much of a mark on my body!
My body gave me two healthy children and it's now going to gift me two healthy boobs.
As soon as I decided to reduce my risk from 82 to less than 5%, by opting for a bilateral #mastectomy I had this almost tribal instinct that I needed to feel some connection to my body. I had heard of reconstruction from other parts of your body, but was also aware that this type of surgery is complex and requires enough fat and healthy blood vessels to enable rebuilding.
The official name of my surgery is 'nipple sparing, DIEP flap, bilateral mastectomy'
(catchy). I'm going to break it down and will also share some images, so heads up - but, honestly my mind has been blown by the possibilities and actually makes me feel quite emotional about the wonders of science. I haven't been this interested in science since my hunky PE teacher in year 9 stood in for my biology teacher and I actually paid attention in class....
Breaking it down:
Bilateral mastectomy >> basically, when both breasts are removed. Bilateral mastectomies are very common in women carrying the BRCA mutation. All breast tissue is removed ahead of reconstruction. Some incredibly brave women opt to 'go flat' and if you google some images, you will see just how beautiful their bodies look.
#DIEP flap >> in layman's terms, this means the fat, skin, and blood vessels are removed from the wall (both sides) of my lower belly and moved up to my chest to rebuild my breasts. Both of my breasts will be operated on at the same time, and my understanding is the surgery takes around 6-8 hrs.
Because this type of surgery is muscle sparing, recovery can be quicker and with a bit of luck the teeny amount of muscle I actually possess down there will not be impacted. Better get doing those crunches over the summer.
Nipple sparing >> My nipples can be saved if I want them to be. The jury is out for me on this one, as in my head I had already made peace with not having nipples or at least having new ones made for me. I guess as with all of these things, decisions are personal and based on a number of different factors. The good news is I don't have to decide today, and can think long and hard about the risks of keeping my own. Anything that comes from my natural breast will still carry a risk.
And so begins a month of scans to check my blood vessels will support this surgery, an MRI to ensure I haven't got any hidden tumours that my mammogram didn't pick up last year and more psychological assessments, but I am officially on the waitlist for surgery.
A lot to take in, but I am feeling happy that today has brought me the clarity I have been desperately searching for since the start of the year. Emotionally the last 18 months have been horrific. Grieving for Dad, now grieving for my body but if I can have the surgery this side of Christmas, it gives me 2022 to really focus on being mentally strong. As ever the brilliant Liz & Mollie on Instagram sum it up brilliantly. We are stronger than we know. I hope.
Thank you for reading & if you have a story relating to your own personal experience with surgery, I’d love to hear about it.
Much love, A x