Out with the old, in with the new!

Tomorrow is the date for my prophylactic mastectomy and I can tell you that my emotions are all over the show. I’ve cried most of the day, mainly due to feeling overwhelmed with the amount of love I feel from everyone around me. It is solely this support network that is getting me through this. The amount of people reaching out to wish me well has been incredible, I can’t wait to reply to each and every one of you whilst recovering.

One half of me is struggling with the thought of having ugly boobs for the foreseeable future, and the other half is constantly reminding myself why I am doing this. In my final surgery meeting, we decided (all six of us in the room) that having breast expanders put in prior to my permanent silicone implants is the best path for me, giving me less chance of complications and infection. Naturally, I am disheartened as this means two operarions and not one like I had previously fought for. For a while I will be living with solid uncomfortable boobs, or so I’m told, which will be pumped up with saline on a fortnightly basis until I’m happy with the size. Commonly nicknamed as rocks’ or ‘boulders’, these implants will be in for 3-6 months until I have my exchange surgery to the wonderful, silicone, teardrop implants I eagerly anticipate.

I read something the other day that will stick with me forever. 
‘Breasts, the mounds of fatty tissue which are attached to your chest, do not make you a woman. Remember, you were not born with breasts, they slowly grew. But you were born female, a woman. You have always had the grace, the intelligence, courage, power and stamina that makes and defines you as a woman’. It’s for this reason that I will not let my new boobs, as disastrous as they may be, define me. Or will I let my Brca mutation for that matter. I am making a decision that means I will no longer worry about breast cancer, no longer be under surveillance and no longer wonder if my biopsies are coming back benign or not. A friend said to me recently ‘your boobs are lovely, but you’re lovelier,’ and it’s as simple as that.

My hospital bag is all ready to go with my lush new hospital pyjamas, my not so glam mastectomy bras and my Drain Dollies, which will give me the freedom to move around with my post surgery drains in.

I’ve got the appointments booked in for my friends to wash my hair/paint my nails etc. I’ve fully got all bases covered and feel as prepared for this as I will ever be.

I’ll be back with an update of my recovery ❤

Again, thank you for reading. Any questions please don’t hesitate to get in touch x

Free the nipple…

Mum has nipples. It’s big news so I have to get that out the way. After an exciting visit to the plastic surgeon, trying various sizes/colours, mum walked out with a fab pair of new prosthetic nipples which look unreal! She can wear them as and when she pleases and applies them with a skin friendly adhesive. For now, they are a fabulous alternative to the nipple reconstruction surgery with 3D tattooing to finish, and have given mum ‘a focal point to her new breasts’. I now feel mum is campaigning for the Free The Nipple movement as she reveals them that often… making me wonder if mums prosthetic nipples would not be frowned upon, or if a public photo of Shells nips would still cause nipple uproar.

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It has undoubtedly been a tough year for me and mum which is not over yet. Shell has met a number of Brca1 mutation carriers over the past few months who have been mid twenties and suffering with breast cancer or recently in remission. Every time I hear of these meetings I am reminded of my risk and how unpredictable my genetic mutation is. I feel as though everything around me is telling me that I need to have my preventative surgery, and quick. Being naïve, and thinking I’m too young to receive such horrific news is not going to alter my outcome, and therefore after an appointment with my breast surgeon last week I am back on track planning my surgery.

The way that I am feeling right now if I could have my breasts off tomorrow I would, but it isn’t that simple. I am going ahead with a nipple sparing implant reconstruction, along with a reduction at the same time and possibly trying out a synthetic fibre called ‘Braxon tissue matrix’, which supports the new implant under the skin. By opting to have nipple sparing (keeping my nipple) I understand that there is an elevated risk but feel like this is a small enough percentage for me to feel happier in the long run. This could be making my surgery more complex as my nipple will be removed, excess skin will be taken to reduce the breast, and then my nipple re-positioned 🙂 fabulous. Surgery can take place April 2018 after my sisters wedding in Australia in March, as my surgeon was apprehensive about operating on me in the new year prior to my trip.

I have begun to be less attached to my natural 32E chest, and am already looking forward to having new, smaller, less risky boobs. I envy the other Brca women who have been braver to have their surgery sooner than I have, but at least I am finally in the right frame of mind to proceed. After supporting a close friend of mine, and watching her lose her battle with cancer recently, I am going to do everything I can to overcome my genetics and fight the odds and statistics that are against me. Along the way I aim to raise awareness as much as possible, fundraise for further research and continue to stick by my fellow Brca ladies on their journeys.

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Until then, I want to give these biological bangers a good send off. I’m feeling inspired to embrace them and let them see as much of the world as possible, like lastnight for example. So if you’re wondering about all the low cut boobs pics, that’s the reason 🙂

Thanks for reading, any questions or queries about anything Brca1 related don’t hesitate to ask.

Much love x

 

 

Dancing Through Life

I know! Its been a while. I am finally coming to the end of my PGCE and have the time to write what I want, and not what I need to. From typing endless lesson plans and rationales I’ve had no energy to write anything else. So as its been a few months since my last blog post let me update you.

I DID have an appointment for my double mastectomy to go ahead June 15th. But last week after an appointment with my surgeon I realised there were still some factors not 100% in my brain. There are so many options. I am still unsure about.. expanders (temporary implants), permanent implants, sub-muscular (under the pectoral muscle) and sub-glandular (over the muscle). I’m still doing my research to figure out what is best for me, and think basically I need more time to be certain. I mean I will have these new boobs for longer than I have ever had my originals, so I need them to be right. Whenever surgery happens I need to also be sure I have the right people around me to love and support me through my recovery. I have the bestest friends who have really educated themselves on Brca1, joking that they’ll get 3D nipple tattoos or even a nipple piercing in honour, we’ll see if that happens ay ha! But seriously, I am so thankful for them all.

“Some people won’t love you no matter what you do, and some people won’t stop loving you no matter what you do. Go where the love is”

Mum is doing fabulous since her double mastectomy in September. We took her new chebs on their first holiday to Ibiza and had an absolute ball! Don’t get me wrong mum is still adjusting and finding her limits, the occasional knock in work can set her back but this week we’ve started pilates as a way to build her strength back up. She surprised herself the next day when I was the one in agony and she was fine.

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Every womans’ journey and needs will be different, and every surgeon has their preferences and suggestions. We all start with different size/shape breasts and have different outcomes in mind. For example, I am a dancer and use my pectoral muscles more than most, therefore deciding to go above or beneath the muscle is crucial for the type of recovery I need. At my last appointment I was told, due to having ‘large breasts’, my scars will be bigger than average because the doctors have more tissue to remove. This means possible front facing scarring as apposed to underneath the breast, like in regular implant surgery. Naturally I am upset about this and need to remind myself constantly as to why I am doing this. The glue my mum had to seal her scars is incredible and barely visible, so I have already requested that.

I am uncertain what the future holds career-wise at the moment. Possibly teaching dance, possibly still performing away somewhere exciting. I feel like my new boobs could diminish any dreams I had of performing in shows such as the ‘Lido’ or ‘Moulin Rouge’ in Paris, and I truthfully don’t know if I’m ready to let go of that yet. I have to remember the wonderful places my boobs HAVE been, and fabulous costumes they’ve worn (or haven’t worn), the great jobs they’ve got me, the many beautiful Victoria’s Secret bras they grace daily, and realise that not all is lost. I’m sure they will continue to live a fabulous less scary life.

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A word of advice for any lady about to go through this, ask questions, do research, find post op photos, speak to other women and most importantly know what you want. There may be an option available to you that you have no idea about. Do not rush into this, is one thing I have realised recently.

As always, thanks for reading.
Abbie x

New year, new boobs.

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.

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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.

me-and-mum(The night before surgery at our first ever Brca support group).

Stay strong ❤ Stay sassy.

Brca – An exclusive group

Hi, I’m Abbie. I tested positive in 2014, aged 24, for the Brca1 gene mutation which I inherited from my mum. This blog aims to raise awareness and share mine and my mums journey as we try to reduce our risk. Everything from surgery, hospital checks, boobs, healthy living and loving life ❤ which at the moment is the most important thing..

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For those of you that don’t know, Brca 1 carriers have an elevated risk of developing female cancers. We have up to an 85% risk of getting breast cancer (compared to the nations average of 1 in 8) as well as an elevated risk of ovarian, colon, pancreatic and melanomas.

So with that serious bit out the way, let’s be positive! I’ve been wanting to start this blog for a while, so I’ve finally sat down to figure it out. After a year of accepting my results, I’m starting to take action and make decisions.

Since the summer I have met so many amazing new people who have been so supportive and interested in my journey. I’ve also joined a Brca support group that me and my mum go to once a month to have a cuppa with other Brca carriers. I think of it as being part of an exclusive group, with only a few members, but we share one unique thing in common and know exactly how one another feels. If any Brca carriers are wanting to meet others, have a search on Facebook. We know there are groups in other cities. If not, set one up! Find a space, make flyers and spread the word.

My mum and I have high hopes for this year and defeating our bad genetics! We aim to raise awareness, do our bit for Brca research, give to a charity and maybe throw a boob bash along the way.

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And here’s to my mum and her amazing new boobs! I am so  proud of her and how far she has come in the last 3 months. My next blog ‘new year, new boobs’ will follow her progress as she starts back to work after her reconstruction surgery. Believe it or not she can’t wait to go back as boredom has taken over.

For those of you who would like to learn more and be part of our journey, follow this blog ‘brca1boobs’ which I will also be sharing on facebook.

Thanks for reading x