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Skin tethering and frustration

kanga78 Member Posts: 2

After receiving the initial diagnosis in Australia, I went back to my home country, with the advice from the breast surgeon in Australia that the lump could be removed by surgery followed by hormone therapy.

Unfortunately, after my doctors back home took a look, they said there is something called skin tethering, that the lump has become attached to the skin, and that surgery cannot be done until it's shrunk through chemotherapy.

Does anyone have any information or experience with skin tethering? The doctors did explain it to me, but I'd still like to read up on it.

I'm so angry right now with the offhand advice given by the breast surgeon in Australia. When I look back, there was definitely signs of tethering when she examined me. Based on her advice, I went back since I also had to attend to a stoma reversal and incisional hernia repair, both from an incident of septic shock in September. It has been difficult living with those, and I had some measure of relief that at least those would be dealt with, now that I now had to deal with the BC diagnosis. Now, the doctors have told me that those surgeries are low priority as it would be risky if I'm going in for chemotherapy.

If she had informed me of this situation, I would not have returned home. Right now, I'm in a difficult situation. I could return to Australia and wind up my overseas appointment and return home to start treatment (financially, this is the better option, I'm on diplomatic service and we aren't entitled to insurance, just reimbursement, and even that's not sure for treatment like this). But it would take at least a month, and the doctors are not happy at such a delay. They also shot down the option of starting there and returning home, because of risks. So I'm looking at taking treatment in Australia but thinking about the financial burden is really worrying me.

Would it be too risky to consider the first option, to wind up without starting treatment and come back? I am planning to return, hoping to meet with a cancer clinic team in Melbourne, but I am trying to see all the feasible options. I realize that's it's difficult to say without knowing the full medical situation, but I'm just trying to see some light ahead.


  • maggie15
    maggie15 Member Posts: 942

    @kanga78 , I'm sorry that you find yourself in this difficult situation. It is not unusual to have neoadjuvant chemo to shrink the tumor before surgery. Sometimes one condition takes precedence when there are several to be dealt with. I couldn't have breast surgery until a bone infection healed. It sounds like your doctors feel that the BC must take precedence over the other surgeries. These are medical decisions made to give the best possible outcome.

    I have lived in and used the medical systems of eight different countries (New Zealand was one of them but not Australia.) The rules and regulations vary according to your status including policies that depend on your place and date of birth. These rules change often so that is the first thing you need to carefully investigate. There is no guarantee that the advice of the surgeon you first consulted (surgery plus HT) would be followed upon closer examination so heading back to Australia for that reason might not be a good idea. Also, as a foreign national living in the country you may be treated differently from a member of the diplomatic services. My husband's stint in Italy came under the umbrella of the UK diplomatic service and his medical coverage was much better than that of a foreign national just residing there. There are often waiting periods and ineligibility for more than emergency services depending on your situation, even if you pay out of pocket.

    Another factor is the support from family and friends you will need. I spent my entire first pregnancy in the UK while my husband was working temporarily in the US since I was employed in the UK and I had no medical coverage in the states at that time even though I'm a US citizen. I thought I had it all planned out; my husband would fly over for the delivery and a friend was my backup labor coach. Unfortunately I was emergently admitted to the hospital at week 32 while my friend was still teaching a course in Holland. While colleagues sent flowers nobody came by to get me a toothbrush or reading material (pre-cellphone days.) A nurse took pity on me but it was something I hadn't planned for. I ended up having an early complicated labor on my own (husband on the plane) with nobody around to advocate for me. I wouldn't recommend putting yourself in that situation.

    Research everything very carefully before you leave your home country for medical treatment. I hope your treatment is successful whatever you end out doing. All the best.