A breast cancer survivor shares her experiences with the BRCA gene.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Soliciting Surgery Opinions

I continue to seek opinions as to whether or not to have this minor surgery, and it's split half "do" and half "don't." 

Today, I received this advice from my friend, Anne, who is always wise and witty --

"Sounds like you’ve gotten lots of advice, so what if I add my 2 cents. Here’s my only question—does how it look or feel bother you? Honest answer (not to me, to yourself.). If it does at all, don’t try to talk yourself into thinking you’ll rise above it and get over it. You won’t. You’re too vain. (Remember, you drive all the way outside the perimeter to get facials.) And it’s only going to get more timely and costly for all our improvement/ maintenance items as we age…So, unless it HONESTLY doesn’t bother you, I’d go ahead and do it."

I was fine about not having surgery until she brought up my vanity.  Now, I may have to reconsider.  

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Third Time's a Charm?

To cut, or not to cut. That is the question.

After last year's odyssey of reconstruction surgery, I am faced with the option of a final phase. Because I had radiation during cancer treatment years ago, one breast healed differently than the other.  That was to be expected, I was told. 

The difference in size and shape is not significant, nor is it painful.  It's just somewhat irritating and there is noticeable scar tissue.

Of course, my surgeon is all for another surgery to "tweak" everything and make me perfect.  Ah, to be perfect...such a temptation!

It may be "minor to him," since it's outpatient and the procedure takes only 30 minutes. But anytime I go under the knife and it involves general anesthesia -- not to mention needles, bloodwork, EKGs, drugs, the risk of infection and those nasty drains -- it's major to me. 

If they told me that I had cancer again, I'd go rushing to my surgeon's office in a flash.  But, it's cosmetic.  Non-life-threatening. Optional.

Do I really want to subject my body to more anesthesia and cutting and discomfort and healing time?  I've been committed all year long to exercise classes to build up muscle strength and flexibility that were lost during my surgery last year.

Surgery requires you to lay off intense exercise -- only walking -- for 6 weeks afterwards.  Don't know that I want to stop my workouts after I've made such progress. 

I've asked everyone's opion (short of the people I pass on the street).  Surgery or not?  My husband says no, that I look great and have been through enough surgery to last a lifetime.  Amen to that.  Mom votes yes, since I'm still relatively young and have health insurance.  I might change my mind down the road and then I'll be older (riskier) and may not have insurance coverage.  My friend, a former plastic surgery nurse, agrees with my husband that my body has been through enough.  Other friends have said to do it and get it over with so I won't have to worry about it any more.

This is what I lie awake at night and think about. But I don't have that many nights left since my surgery is scheduled in two weeks.  So, to keep my date with the surgeon or cancel. That is the question.  Then, there's the possibity of perfection...