Friday, Saturday and Sunday provided a bit of normality. We took the girls to the park, I went for a massage, a walk on the beach with my sis in law Jo (who’s going to have her first baby any day now), markets and lunch at Emu Park, pottering around the house, spending time with my beautiful girls and in between all of that further educating myself about what’s to come. Plus having little bursts of feeling totally overwhelmed, having a good old cry, wanting to crawl into bed for a week – then getting back up, brushing myself off and getting on with things again. The normality has definitely helped me not get too far ahead of myself. I’m trying to focus on the next immediate decision that needs to be made and leave the rest in the futre where it belongs.
It’s funny because over the last year I’ve learnt a bit about mindfulness and living in the present moment. I’ve read about it, meditated here and there, tried to practice mindfulness in my day to day life and attended a mindfulness & meditation weekend whilst pregnant with Polly earlier this year over on North Keppel. It’s serving me well at the moment.
So, I’ve been looking into the option of reconstruction surgery at the same time as my mastectomy. I do feel I’d cope better emotionally and mentally after surgery if I could have a new boob built sooner rather than later. There are two options, first is TRAMS flap which means they take bits from other parts of my body and make a boob out of them. How cool is that! Unfortunately (and fortunately) this isn’t really an option due to my lack of excess tissue 😉 Second option, an implant. Initially a tissue expander would be inserted and pumped up over time, then after all of my post op treatment I would go back for surgery to remove the tissue expander and insert the implant. Of course there is always the third option of having one boob for life and wearing a prosthetic breast but I’m young and I personally wouldn’t even consider this as an option long term. Some of you might be thinking this is “TMI” (too much information), but I’m guessing there will be some of you who are curious about what happens after it comes off.
On Friday Derek, Polly and I will head down to the big smoke, Brisbane, to see a breast surgeon and plastic & reconstruction surgeon. It’s not possible to get a reconstruction here in Rocky and I really need to work through all my options before deciding what happens next plus when and where. At this stage I don’t know whether I’m suitable for a reconstruction but I’ll find out on Friday and then can decide from there. It’s pretty much a given that I’ll be having chemo but they won’t know for sure about radiation therapy until after my surgery and the pathology has been done. There is already one lymph node affected by the cancer and if there are 4 or more lymph node affected then it’s likely I’ll also have to have radiation therapy. It’s not ideal to have radiation on an implant so if they do think it’s very possible I’ll have radiation, then it’s unlikely I’ll be suitable for a reconstruction at the same time as the mastectomy. If that’s the case I’ll just have to deal with it. I am already preparing myself for that happening but it’s good to go through the motions so that I’ve covered all bases. I would be very disappointed in myself if I didn’t explore all of my options before my surgery.
Even if I don’t have reconstruction surgery with the mastectomy, the reconstruction surgeon likes to see his patients before their mastectomy and I can certainly see plenty of benefits to that so the trip won’t be a wasted one. I’m also seeing a breast surgeon in Brisbane and may end up having surgery down there even without the reconstruction. The surgeon in Rocky is a general surgeon and I’m not doubting his ability but it makes sense to at least talk to a surgeon who specialises in breast surgery. If I have the mastectomy in Rocky, it will be on Monday 27 August. If I have just the mastectomy in Brisbane it will be either Thursday or Friday or next week. If I have the mastectomy and reconstruction in Brisbane then it will be as soon as both surgeons are available together. They like to do breast cancer surgery as a matter of urgency so I’m guessing it won’t be too much later than my initial surgery date.
So my head has been in a whirl today trying to sort through all of this. I was on the phone nearly all day in between tending to Polly (Derek was at work for an important meeting and Rosie at daycare). Apart from numerous calls to all the doctors’ rooms, I also spoke to two breast care nurses, one from the Kim Walters Choices Program and one from Rocky who is coming to visit me at home tomorrow. Great service! Both women were fantastic and offered support before, during and after treatment. I’ll be seeing the nurse from Choices when I’m down in Brisbane on Friday. From what I’ve heard, the breast care nurses will be my go to people for practical and emotional support throughout this whole “journey”.
I’ve also made an appointment with the Cancer Council Psychologist, I’m seeing her in Rocky tomorrow. I thought about leaving this bit out of the blog but then I thought better of it. I’m putting a lot out there and it just didn’t feel right to pretend that I’m not worried about my mental state. I am. I’m very concerned about how I’ll get through all of this without being able to unload to an outsider. It’s a free service and one which I may come to rely upon at some stage. What can I say, I’m a woman! Talking through things helps me feel better.
So I’m feeling pretty good about most things at this point. As good as one can when faced with this situation. Polly is taking a bottle well and I’m still considering donor milk but only with proper screening (blood tests and reassurance of a healthy diet). The first step was her taking a bottle well, she’s even taken a couple from me. I was quite worried about her rejecting the bottle from me and expecting the breast. She’s been pretty good about it but is still having breastfeeds so I can stay comfortable in the process. I think she’ll be fine once weaned totally to a bottle, it’ll be me who will be upset about it. Time will heal though.
I have a bit on tomorrow but not much for Wednesday and Thursday. Hopefully Jo has her baby as that will take my mind of off things until Friday. We’ll do some fun stuff with Rosie on Wednesday and Derek and I might go to the Johnny Cash tribute show with Tex Perkins on Thursday night plus out for dinner first. It’s nice to have little things to look forward to…