Do you remember when I wrote that blog post a few weeks after I had my mastectomy about getting to know my new boob? And then a few weeks later, I ended up having it replaced with a different implant because my skin was refusing to heal? Do you remember when I said how happy I was with my implant? How like my other boob it was? Did I tell you that while I didn’t like the expander implant, I was still pretty symmetrical? Did I explain that I’d had to have the fluid removed from the implant because it was putting too much stress on the suture line and I was refusing to heal? Did I tell you it was because of an infection in the implant I ended up throwing up in a hospital recycling bin and spent five days in hospital? I forget what I said. But we have another update.
After getting another infection when my immunity plummeted after my second round of chemo and spending a Friday evening in A&E, I got another leak from my boob. Probably the biggest yet. It was like a punch in the face. I knew it meant more surgery. More time healing. More delays. More hospital appointments. More not running. So we had two options – do we try and stitch the affected area again and risk being in the same position three weeks down the line, or do we remove the implant, concentrate on getting better and figure out the reconstruction later?
I opted for the latter. So last week, I had my implant removed – a decision which has left me looking more as if I’m being treated for cancer than I would like (still trying to fool myself into thinking I’m not – idiot). But adjusting to this new change to my body hasn’t been as difficult as I expected. It’s still covered, it’s still early days, I’m still anticipating tears and tantrums at some point in the future, but for now, I’m largely at peace with the decision. The implant was causing me so many problems. Every new complication was wearing me out and I was literally exhausted by it. The fact it had no fluid in it meant it was crumpled and uncomfortable. I knew every chemo meant there was a risk I’d find myself with a temperature, a fever and needing to get to A&E for a dose of antibiotics and fluids. It was a draining addition to an already tiresome process. As much as I love my surgeon, I wouldn’t mind not seeing him every week and keeping my hospital visits to chemo days alone.
Obviously, being flat on one side has its own side effects – largely emotional rather than physical – but having the implant removed should make the remainder of treatment much easier. And it’s not forever. I am so confident that when everything is done and dusted, my rockstar surgeon will be able to make me a new boob, probably out of the skin and muscle on my back (known as a LD flap reconstruction), and I’ll end up with something that looks realistic and I’m happy with. In the meantime, I’ll be rocking a prosthetic, I’ve named her Gladys, or a “knitted knocker”.
So there’s a bit of a vacancy in my life at the moment. It’s weird losing something that is such a huge part of my femininity. It’s strange visiting the breast nurse to choose a prosthetic. Buying a bra and scouring the web for ones that have pockets and don’t look like they belong on a 60 year old woman is tricky. But it is what it is. Yes it’s shit, but rather this than the alternative.
And in the meantime, I’ve got Runnin‘ by Naughty Boy and Beyonce on repeat (it’s my jam – and the lyric “if I lose myself I lose it all” speaks to me like you wouldn’t believe. Cheesy but true) and remembering this essential life motto:
If you’ve stumbled upon my blog because you’re facing a mastectomy yourself, here’s a bloody enormous hug for you, and a note to say that this is not the norm when it comes to this kind of surgery. I’ve been so, so unlucky with this, but I’ve heard so many success stories of other women having mastectomies, whether single or bilateral, and having absolutely no bother with them at all. My body just doesn’t like me too much at the moment.
If you didn’t hear, I’ve made it to the top five for Lifestyle Blogger of the Year in The Bloggers’ Lounge Awards which is completely barmy. I’d be so grateful if you felt I deserved a vote here! Check out the other guys in the category too, they’re all amazing.