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

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Reconstruction, Rebuilding, Rebooting

It's over!  I went through my final surgery and have been resting and healing this past week. 

Looking back over this process, I ask myself--based on what I know now -- was reconstruction worth it?  For the most part, I would say yes.

I love the results of what my surgeon did.  I think about how terrified I was upon hearing the words, "double mastectomy."  All I could envision was being butchered.  I never would have dreamed I could go through this and end up with a body that, frankly, I liked better than when I began.

However, I would tell anyone who is considering reconstruction that you have to be physically and emotionally up to it, because it's a long haul, requiring a lot of work and patience. 

I've been frustrated in having to accept my limitations.  I've been exhausted, not having the same stamina as I did before. I've had to dedicate long hours to rebuilding muscle that was cut.  My abdominal muscles swell when I put too much pressure on that area, which can make clothes extremely uncomfortable.  And when I'm stretching or doing some sort of exercise, my muscles can cramp, which is painful. You have to think of it like rebuilding Dresden...one stone at a time.   

It's far more involved than you realize going into it.  But worth it?  Yes, you could say that.  But, I understand now why some women don't choose the reconstruction route.  It's hard.  There's no right answer, but what feels right to you.

So, now that surgery is behind me, I will be taking it easy over the next six weeks -- no strenuous activity -- and then back to exercise...and then tattooing.  The fun never ends.