Today… I had my first full check up at St.Helens hospital. The staff were so helpful and explained everything to me. I feel such peace of mind knowing I’ve been checked out. The breast MRI involved having a dye injection during the scan (to highlight anything) which was a tad strange ,but went smoothly. Then I went through to have a pelvic ultrasound, with a full bladder trying not to burst, to check my ovaries. I guess this is the start of my annual screening and decision making.
Last month… mum went back to work after 15 weeks recovery from her double mastectomy with DIEP flap reconstruction. What does all that mean? She has had her breast tissue and nipples removed, with new breasts recreated from her stomach tissue. The result is a brand new pair of chebs, and a fresh tummy tuck (which she is loving), and a belly button that resembles a sugar puff.
Since mum had breast cancer aged 36, and only had a lumpectomy, she has kept her breasts for the past 16 years knowing she is BRCA1 positive. This has been a huge gamble due to her extremely high risk of developing it again. Mum made the decision to go ahead with her preventative surgery due to one scare too many, and without doubt was the best day ever! At least one of us is rid of these time bombs sitting on our chests.
The days after surgery…I think I was her least favourite person in the world. I felt so strongly about her having it done, for selfish reasons really. So she associated the pain she was feeling with me making her do it ha! Totally understandable. She was in a very warm room under a hot blanket with no fans for 24 hours and checked on every 30 minutes. She had 5 drains, a catheter, a local anesthetic tube into her stomach, and even cannulas in the top of her feet due to lack of veins. Its things like this that nobody can prepare you for, but the determination to get home kept her going. So determined infact that she secretly applied fake tan to trick them that she had some colour back in her face.
Brushing her own hair wasn’t possible for the first 3 weeks, and showering was an ordeal in itself, involving a garden chair and my sister in a speedo 🙂 Small hiccups, such as her stomach needing regluing, and internal stitches not dissolving, have not set my mum back and she has stayed her usual strong willed self throughout. A great deal of rest and doing very little has aided mums successful recovery. Her abdominals are now being supported with a mesh like material, which is now a permanent feature inside mums tum.
Before surgery… This is probably the only time the doctor will tell you to eat lots of cream cakes and fatty foods. This was to build a ‘booby belly’, which mum worked on during summer. The bigger the belly the bigger the new boobs. Mums success at eating cakes means she has now gone from a 36C to a 34DD.
During hospital appointments there wasn’t many examples of the end result shown to mum, due to lack of medical photos. She has since had many photos taken in hospital at different stages, in hope that other women will benefit from seeing her post surgery images.
She went in to this whole thing open minded and hopeful that she wouldn’t look like ‘Frankenstein’ afterwards. The reality could not be further from her fears. In my eyes she looks incredible, and has the best 53 year old boobs I’ve seen (not that I’ve seen many). She trusted and befriended her surgeons which helped her feel relaxed and in good hands. She is also loving her new flat belly and is walking up to 8k three times a week to regain her fitness level.
The most important thing to come of this is that mum is here and happy. Her risk of getting breast cancer has dropped from a high of 80-90% to around 5%, which is less than the UK’s average. I’d like to also put it out there that her underwear drawer now rivals mine, as she wears Victoria’s Secret wireless bralettes most days. An absolute VS angel.
(The night before surgery at our first ever Brca support group).
Stay strong ❤ Stay sassy.