Wednesday, June 27, 2012

This saga has turned a corner, picked up on another blog:

Saturday, April 21, 2012


I am ready to be deconstructed.

Four and a half years ago, after a mastectomy that removed my right breast, 2 silicon implants were placed in my chest.  The one on the right replaced the breast that was removed.  The smaller one on the left was supposedly put it to make it more "match" the fake right breast.  The left breast needed a lift.

It didn't work out so well, cosmetically.  Actually, the lifted left breast "looks" pretty good, but it doesn't even come close to matching the silicon blob that protrudes from my right chest.  The right implant never "settled", so it sits high on my chest, almost to my collarbone.  I've heard the doctor say that it is "too large".  I think he means large, width-wise, because every time I extend my right arm I feel a pinch in my underarm area.  This is especially annoying when I swim.  

For the last year or more my breasts have become more and more painful.  There is a constant ache around the right implant.  I recently had an MRI to check and see if anything was wrong, but that came back with a diagnosis of "everything looks fine" in there, meaning that the implant was not leaking.  I suspect that it is muscle pain, because the implant is actually under the pectoral muscle, and the muscle feels stretched and strained.  It is especially painful when it is cold outside.

Anyway, I've had enough.  I want the implant(s) out and am ok with being flat chested on one side.  I'm not sure how the left breast will look with the implant out.  Like a deflated balloon?  But a plastic surgeon should be able to do something about that, shouldn't he?

Much as I don't like the idea of someone cutting on me, I want this done.  I can't wait to be free of my silicon chest.  For more than 4 years I've felt like I had a plate of armor weighing down on me.  I don't hug people closely - I always hold them just a little bit a part from me.  I'm protecting myself and I'm embarrassed by this barrier that is in me.  I'm afraid to be touched on or around my chest.  This all makes me sad.  

I'm ready to let it all go.  The silicon, the fear.  I want my body back, even if it is wounded and flawed.

I want to touch and be touched.

My appointment is on Tuesday, and that is when I will schedule the surgery.

[My gosh, I notice in the post below, written more than 3 years ago, I am saying much of what I say today.  Funny that it has taken me 3 years to get to the place where I am ready to go through another surgery.]

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

rethinking reconstruction (a year too late)

Well, it seems as I’m not yet finished, as I pronounced the end of this blog in the previous post.

It seems that I still have a lot of things related to breast cancer to find my way through. Maybe there is no end? Maybe I have only just begun?

Today, I wish that I had never had breast reconstruction surgery. I wish that at the time of my breast diagnosis, I had been given more choices as to how to treat the cancer. In particular, I wish that there had been some support for having the breast removed without having to have a fake breast to replace it. I wish that there were more women walking around with one breast, and that they supported other women who did not opt for reconstruction.

How did we all get sucked into the reconstruction business, anyway?

Before my mastectomy, I asked again and again why 2 lumpectomies couldn’t be done on my one breast. Because you wouldn’t have much breast left, I was told. It would be better to take the whole breast off and reconstruct.

Now, one year later, I don’t think so. I would rather have a small, radiated 2-lumpectomied breast than what I have now.

Both of my breasts still hurt. I have fluid behind the nipple on my left breast that was “lifted” to match the strange round silicon thing that replaced my right breast. It hurts. I still have fluid around my right silicon breast. Some days it all just hurts. I find myself wishing I didn’t have any silicon in me. I would rather just be half flat chested.

I’m not sure what I’m going to do about any of this. Removing everything, at this point, may make it worse. It means one more surgery.

I’m also a bit chagrined that I got suckered into the whole breast implant phenomena. That I would look “great” – as in sexier, younger, whatever.

I'm thinking more and more about DECONSTRUCTION.

Saturday, February 28, 2009

moving on

It has been 16 months since the first biopsy revealed cancer in my right breast. There were MRIs, ultrasounds, more biopsies that showed more cancer, a mastectomy, a reconstruction surgery. And lots of worry.

My mind slowly adapted to the idea of cancer in my body. My mother had died at the age of 59, and here I was 57, and then 58 years old. Would I die early as well?

Yesterday, February 27th, was the 36th anniversary of my mother’s death. It was a day of enlightenment, really – the day that I saw that it was time to move on.

My body is cancer free, and I am getting on with my life. My destiny is to live.

My preoccupation with my breast cancer is over.

And thus officially ends this blog.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Aromatase Inhibitors, Vaginal Atrophy and Sexuality

It is hard to put this to words – the way that I know my spirituality and sexuality to be intimately connected. There is an energy – an aliveness – that I am aware of when I am in touch with my sexuality. This does not necessarily mean that I am having great sex with my husband. It is something much broader that carries through my whole day, into every corner and cranny of my life. It’s how I know myself, a deep joy in my bodily existence that I can tap into at any time.

Aromatase Inihibitors – Femara for me – brought all of this to an abrupt stop. Extreme vaginal dryness not only has made sexual intercourse painful and something that I fear (what if my skin in there tears? what if I get another urinary infection?) but also has confused my sense of sexuality.

I have been taking Femara for 9 months. After using a myriad of over the counter creams and gels, 3 major urinary tract infections and repeated complaining about the discomforts of vaginal dryness, both my oncologist and my gynecologist have recommended that I use Vagifem. Vaginal atrophy is progressive, they tell me, and will not get better with time. It most likely will get worse.

This is confusing and scary to me.

The articles on the Internet say that Vagifem is not recommended to women taking AIs because it counters the effect of the AI – blocking all estrogen from the system. Estrogen levels are elevated in the blood of women using Vagifem with an AI.

So, I would be taking a drug ($30 a month) to block estrogen, and another one ($30 a month) to put estrogen back in.

Money matters aside, I wonder if I wouldn’t be better off stopping both drugs.

I’m annoyed about all those years that doctors were prescribing estrogen, en masse, to menopausal women. The drug companies made a bundle before they discovered that estrogen increased the incidence of breast cancer.

Now the drug companies are making a bundle on estrogen-blocking drugs taken by all those women who got breast cancer. Who is to say that in a few years we won’t find the down side of these drugs?

Doesn’t Nature know best how to manage the hormones in my body?

And then there is the cancer worry. What is it that caused my body to develop breast cancer? Something in the environment? Hormone pumped cows? The synthetic estrogen that I took 10 years ago?
Will an estrogen free body keep the breast cancer from returning, and should I diligently pursue this approach, even if it means no sex and urinary infections?

I have many questions.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

the thing about the Femara

The thing about the Femara is that I never know if my feeling bad is due to the drug, or just the way I would be feeling anyway.

Well, almost. I do know that my bones and joints ache a lot more. And that the vaginal dryness is like nothing I have never before experienced.

But why do I feel so disconnected from my body? Like my body is no longer me, but somewhat distant. I think that sex has a lot to do with connecting myself with my body, and that has been less than satisfactory. But also I don’t seem to get a rush of endorphins when I exercise anymore. I always feel more or less, not well.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

a place to put my hurt

First, a confession: I can be quite neurotic – hypersensitive, over-dramatic, lacking in objective perspective, even downright loony.

Perhaps I am still “processing” the whole ordeal of losing my right breast. Or maybe I'm this way all the time, but won't admit to it without an excuse.

I do not want any of the feelings that I write here to reflect on the professionalism and skill of the doctors who have treated me. Even though I have not quite come to terms with my reconstruction surgery – things are, in fact, still changing – I consider my plastic surgeon to be extremely competent, responsive, and perhaps a genius.

I am getting used to my new breasts – even starting to feel that they look good, despite not being perfect matches. The right breast is falling more and I don’t feel so strange looking.

And because I’m more healed, I’m not afraid to expose my breasts anymore. (Yes, I make love with nothing covering them now – yeah!) What is it about the way I do not want others to see my wounds - to see where I hurt? I bet a shrink could make something of that.

Maybe part of my reason for writing here is to have a place to put my hurt.