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Topic: Last words and encouragement?

Forum: Living Without Reconstruction After a Mastectomy — Discuss prostheses, swimsuits, bras, and other options for women not having reconstruction or waiting for reconstruction.

Posted on: May 29, 2007 06:39AM

wallycat wrote:

Hi ladies,
I have still not heard about my OncotypeDX so feel in limbo, but am meeting with my breast surgeon friday. I will tell him if they can't get the oncoDX soon, that I am ready for the surgery. If chemo is necessary than they can do it after.

OK, here's the part I need for all you gals...
I am going to tell him no reconstruction--to make the scar/skin as tight and clean with no thought of ever going wtih reconstruction.
I am still a bit on the 'freaking out" side of this...how I will react, will I have "buyer's remorse," will I be OK wit my look???

any and all thoughts/encouragement are welcome!
Dx 4/07 1 month before turning 50; ILC 1.8cm, ER+/PR+, HER2 neg., Stage 1, Grade 2, 0/5 nodes. Onco score 20, Bilateral Mast., tamoxifen 3-1/2 years, arimidex-completed 4/20/2012
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May 29, 2007 10:03AM Erica wrote:

I felt very much like you. That is, though I really didn't want any extra skin and told my BS I never wanted recon, I wondered if I might change my mind someday. But I knew I'd be depressed if extra skin were left and felt as if that in itself might make me regret not having had recon. So I just decided to go ahead. After all, recon is still totally possible even without skin-sparing mastectomies. I guess the finished product might have more visible scars, but otherwise would be doable.

Seven months after surgery, I have NO interest in recon, but it's comforting to know that if I ever change my mind, I still have the option.

As far as how you'll react, I guess that's about as subjective an experience as there is--we all react differently. I simply didn't mind the way I looked; in fact, in some ways I liked it better--I felt I looked more petite. That being said, I still wear some kind of breast forms in public (I've got quite a variety!).

Good luck and please keep us posted.

Barbara
BreastFree.org (breastfree.org); BreastFree Blog (breastfree.blogspot.com); Twitter @BreastFree
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May 29, 2007 10:56AM cmorris58 wrote:

I can only second what Erica has recommended. I am over 5 years since by mast. and also told my surgeon to make to remove any extra skin. I was never blessed with much before the surgery but this would have been my change to have something there. I have never regretted the decision. As Erica has said they can find some way to do reconstruction latter if you cant live being flat.
Cate
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May 29, 2007 11:13AM LindaLou53 wrote:

Wallycat,
It is certainly a difficult decision but I know you have been reading and researching and trying to feel out just where your emotions lie. I can only tell you that for me it was absolutely the right decision and I have no regrets now 18 months later.

The factors that came into play for me were:

1. Being Stage 3 with many positive nodes, I felt my risk of recurrence or mets was too high to have reconstructed breasts muddy the waters.

2. Even without my Stage 3 diagnosis I was already skeptical about submitting my body to another major surgery and the lengthy reconstruction process with all its potential risks and outcomes.

3. At my age and point in life my priorities revolve more around physical comfort, ease of daily activities and convenience as opposed to physical appearance or fashion sense.

4. I had a pretty accurate gut feeling of my ability to accept and learn to live with my new body image. I still needed an adjustment period to get used to the changes both physical and emotional, but it was not that difficult a process for me.

For me the secret was to list my priorities. I knew that most of all I wanted to be a cancer survivor and get my physical body healthy as soon as possible. I knew from my previous bout with cancer that issues of hair loss and that "chemo look" were just not something I worried about. I felt I could learn to live without breasts more easily than dealing with reconstruction, ongoing mammograms and worry about recurrence.

For me it was the right choice and I have a sense of freedom that I don't think I would have had with reconstruction.

Wallycat, just be as honest with yourself as you can, make the decision that for you will give you the most peace, and then recognize that you have the strength to face whatever comes your way.

My thoughts are with you,
Linda
Life is not measured by how many breaths we take...but by the moments that take our breath away! ...I am a 14/9 yr survivor of 2 Primary BCs, 23/23 Positive Nodes (Zometa x 5 years) Started Paloma-3 Clinical Trial 4-14-14 Dx 7/14/2000, IDC, 1cm, Stage IIA, Grade 1, 2/7 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2- Surgery 8/11/2000 Lumpectomy: Right; Lymph node removal: Right, Sentinel Chemotherapy 8/30/2000 AC + T (Taxol) Radiation Therapy 2/26/2001 Breast, Lymph nodes Hormonal Therapy 5/10/2001 Dx 11/21/2005, ILC, 5cm, Stage IIIC, Grade 1, 23/23 nodes, ER+/PR-, HER2- Surgery 12/5/2005 Lymph node removal: Left, Underarm/Axillary; Mastectomy: Left, Right Chemotherapy 12/23/2005 Taxotere (docetaxel), Xeloda (capecitabine) Hormonal Therapy 4/7/2006 Aromasin (exemestane) Radiation Therapy 4/7/2006 Breast, Lymph nodes Dx 3/21/2014, ILC, Stage IV, mets, ER+/PR-, HER2- Hormonal Therapy 4/14/2014 Faslodex (fulvestrant)
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May 29, 2007 02:47PM wallycat wrote:

Thank you ladies.
I've printed some pictures that are ideal for what I want the surgeon to comprehend in my intentions. I will offer and ask him if he wants the plastic surgeon (they work in tandum for many mast. with immediate reconstructions) to be there as backup in case something unexpected occurs.

I guess my mental head-set then is all I can deal with.

Thank you ladies for your generous words of wisdom and taking time to post.
In all honesty, I would like to have reconstruction, but I think (for me personally), no matter how well it turned out, it would never be my breasts.
Like you, Linda, I too am at a point in my life where fashion and body image are much less important to me and comfort and health-confidence of no recurrence are paramount. I wake up each morning flattening my chest and imaging what it will be like and hope my gut feel is accurate.

Thank you ladies. I cannot tell you how much your posts have meant to me through this ordeal!
Dx 4/07 1 month before turning 50; ILC 1.8cm, ER+/PR+, HER2 neg., Stage 1, Grade 2, 0/5 nodes. Onco score 20, Bilateral Mast., tamoxifen 3-1/2 years, arimidex-completed 4/20/2012
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May 29, 2007 03:26PM Isabella4 wrote:

Wallycat...just go for it, if your minds made up.
I was absolutely bomb proof sure I wanted to go for double mast. no recon, my surgeon said he had never before met with someone who was so sure of what she wanted. Apparently, the majority of women fight to keep their breasts, and here was I saying 'off with them'
I have a very, very neat tight job, going by some of the pics I have seen I haven't yet seen a job as neat as mine. A lot look puckered, and saggy, even after mast. I DID have very long scars. I am not going to go on a tape measure hunt right now, but I think my scars are 14" and 14 1/2". My surgeon cut me right from the centre of my chest, right round under each arm, to my back, taking with him all the 'dog ears' as he went.
Each time I get to flash my chest the drs or nurses will remark on this really neat job.
I'm not saying that I LIKE having my chest this way, its how it had to be, but with a bit of forethought and telling your PS what you want you'll end up with a much neater job that you can live easier with. My scars have now faded to just silver lines, all the underarm hair has gone, so no shaving, another bonus!
Good Luck with your op. Keep us posted, it isn't nearly as bad as you think its going to be, I was really suprised at the lack of pain. Not saying there wasn't any pain, but it was a doable op. Isabella.
Dx 5/14/2003, IDC, 1cm, Stage I, Grade 1, 0/26 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2-
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May 30, 2007 04:18AM nagem wrote:

A friend gave me some very good advice before I had my mastectomy without reconstruction. She told me to write down all the reasons for my decision. That way if I ever doubted my choice, I would have a reminder. Also it would help me to stop mentally repeating them to myself (which was keeping me awake). I did as she advised and found it helpful ...

nagem (underthestinkwoodtree.blogspot...) Dx 9/23/2005, ILC, 1cm, Stage IIA, Grade 3, 1/13 nodes, ER-/PR-, HER2+

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