Saturday, October 6, 2012
Reconstruction or Not...
Breast reconstruction is a highly personal choice. One which needs to be considered carefully. Recently, a friend of mine who had a bi-lateral mastectomy told me that after several years, she's decided to have reconstruction in the spring. I chose not to have reconstruction. My sister-in-law had reconstruction but confided in me several years ago that if she had it to do over again, she wouldn't.
I chose not to have reconstruction because in 1998, my choices were limited to one which took abdominal muscles, and another which took muscles from the back. I couldn't face another surgery, and it seemed to me that these two muscle groups were pretty important. While I once had nice breasts, I decided to just use a prosthesis, and not worry about it.
My sister-in-law told me that it never really felt like a breast (reconstruction doesn't replace the nerves, so you don't have the sensation that you would normally have with a breast). Another person I knew in Connecticut had horrible results, even though she went to a very good surgeon. Yet another friend here went to New Orleans to have surgery which at the time was only offered there which used muscles from your derriere. She was very happy with that surgery.
Melanie Testa, who had a bi-lateral mastectomy has chosen to not use prosthesis at all....Something I wouldn't do because I have one breast and I found while waiting for the surgery site to heal and to be fitted for the mastectomy prosthesis, my remaining breast (being a 34C) was large enough that it threw my alignment out and gave me a back ache. By wearing the prosthesis, the weight of the silicone once again balances me and I don't have back issues because of it.
Melanie calls herself a "flattie." I would be a "con-cavey" as I suspect I had more tissue taken than she did, and I definitely have a divot where the breast once was. She is of normal weight...and I know that some of my friends who have had bilaterals and are larger women sometimes have a little roll...which shows if they don't have the breasts....
Melanie has experienced some interesting things since she has chosen not to wear the prosthesis or have reconstruction. While she says that prosthesis can contribute to lymphedema, I am not sure that that is the case. I haven't known women who have it who can attribute it to that, it is more often a result of the scar tissue tightening, an injury, or a muscle pull or other damage to the area. She also mentions that the prosthesis rubs against the scars....and I can attest that that has never happened to me. I have never had irritated tissue from wearing the prosthesis. However, I do agree that reconstruction is not a given, and that people should be well informed as to their choices.
To that end, she is hosting a Pocket challenge. She is collecting pockets made in recognition of people who have chosen NOT to have reconstruction. You are to make a pocket per her instructions on her blog, and send it to her during the week of October 22. You need to sign up on her blog, and she will send you the information to return the pieces to her. She wants to collect 1,000 in order to submit it for an article to bring it to the awareness of people during this deluge of pink month...Please pass the word on.