Today I was faced with a big decision. I went to see my Reconstructive Surgeon for my “fill” appointment. I haven’t actually seen him for a couple of months, having had Residents perform the fill procedure at my appointments. At today’s visit, I asked specifically to see him. A nurse came into the examining room and immediately started to set up the needles…or as I like to refer to them as the “turkey basters”. I asked the nurse if she could have the surgeon come in to talk to me as I had a lot of questions.
As I was waiting for the surgeon, I stared at the needles and the bowl of saline that was set up to be injected into the expanders in my chest. I have just under a litre of saline in each side and my chest, which is very tight and very painful. As I sat waiting I thought, “I can’t do it. I can’t endure more liquid being injected into my chest. I need to call it quits!” As my realization and decision starting to sink in, my surgeon entered the room. He looked at my chart and saw that I had 990cc’s on both sides. “Are you happy with the size or do you want some more injections?” he asked while looking at my chest.
“Actually I envisioned having a larger size than what I have now.” I said.
“That’s not a problem, we can keep going. Then when you’re happy we will switch out for a saline implant”.
“Saline? I thought I was going to have silicone.”
“The largest silicone implant is 800cc’s. You are already at 990, so you would have to have a saline implant. Even if you are happy with the size now, we will still have to over inflate to create extra skin for the surgery.”
“I don’t think I can handle any more injections”, I said. “I’m in so much pain now; if we add any more fluid I’m not sure I can take it! What if I stop now and just go with this size?”
“If you stop now, your implants will be smaller than what your chest is at present because we have to have the extra skin for the surgery. That means your final product will be quite a bit smaller than what you see now. I’m afraid if you stop at this point, you won’t be happy with what you end up with given you wanted a larger size than you have at present.”
What he said is true. When I look in the mirror I am not happy with what I see….BUT, I also know that there is no way I can keep going with the inflation. I don’t sleep as the pain is so severe when I try to lie down and once I stop the injections, I still have to wait 3 to 4 months for the switch out surgery. My mind was racing. This is not what I wanted to end up with, but then again, I never thought I would be facing these kind of decisions before being diagnosed with breast cancer only 7 months ago.
” I think I’m done then,” I said with a bit of disbelief. “I guess I will just have to adjust my expectations and live with whatever I end up with. The pain just isn’t worth it to me.”
“Ok, if you’re sure, then that’s it,” he said. “I will go get the consent forms for you to sign, I’ll give you the pre-op package and you will hear from us with a surgery date sometime in the next 4 or so months.”
With that, he and the nurse left me as I sat alone and let my decision sink in. Have I made the right decision? Will I regret bailing on my plan and settling for a much smaller size? Ugh, this is all a bit overwhelming. My mind was spinning as the nurse returned with the consent forms. “This form says you will be having surgery to remove your tissue expanders and have them replaced with silicone implants. Just sign here and initial here and we’re good to go.”
I took the clip board knowing that with my signature I was making my decision final. On the positive side I didn’t have to endure any more injections and having my already taut skin stretched further…but it also meant that the “final product” was not going to be what I originally envisioned. Like adjusting to my cancer diagnosis and then having to deal with the shock both physically and emotionally of having a double mastectomy I have learned that life is ever changing and even the best laid plans may go sideways. But more importantly I have learned that I am stronger than I thought. I can handle anything thrown at me. And if I have to adjust to a different size of “foob” than I imagined, so be it. I’ve adjusted to losing my real breasts. I have survived cancer. And now I only have to wait a few more months until hopefully this journey is behind me….and that’s worth more to me than any “cup” size.
President of As You Like It Marketing & Communications Inc. Award winning speaker and author. Breast cancer fighter and blogger. I’m sharing my journey…the good, the bad and the ugly. Hoping to help anyone else that has been touched by breast cancer be it you or someone you know or love.