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Jan 10, 2021 07:06PM
I chose no reconstruction because I wanted to live and move on and it was the right choice for me. I'd had a brush with a one-off tumor in 1996-1997 and lost half the right breast then. The cancer was in the left. By this point, both were going if I was going to be down to a half! I was 35 at the time of the first surgery and had just turned 57 at the time of the BMX.
I had a plastic surgeon close me, and she INSISTED I take showers daily, which I really did not want to do! It seems every doc has different ideas on that. I did not use a special shower head nor a "shower sheet." But having a drain holder is worth its weight in gold! I can't find the one I had right now, but it looked like this: drain holder. The drains are a pain and not much fun (even though mine did not hurt me as others experience), but you get those with reconstruction or without.
I found the surgery very easy (no reconstruction=less time under anesthesia). In a few days, I was off all meds and within two weeks, they were starting me on radiation! Even I felt that was rushing it, but I was driving and doing everything else, so it made sense to move ahead.
I had pillows for under my arms but never used them--they were given to me by MD Anderson. I had a friend who had a BMX who was sore for weeks under her arms--she also could not raise her arms. But I had none of that. I don't have a recliner, but we do have an adjustable bed, and it was helpful in the early days. Whether you do reconstruction or not, bringing a pillow in the car for the seat belt area is worth remembering. The ride home will be much more comfortable without the seat belt pushing against your chest.
My surgeons did not require me to wear a surgical bra. It's my choice to wear prosthetics now, but you wouldn't have to, certainly, and enjoy the bra-less life. When I was fitted for my prosthetics, I chose the most comfortable bra they had, and it's not bad looking. I look the exact same in clothing or in my bra as I did before (I had worn a ½ prosthetic for 20 years so I had a pretty good idea of what I was getting into).
If you end up deciding to "go flat" I would ask for an "aesthetic flat closure." You can search on this site or on the internet about what that means, but it's the correct way of telling a doctor that you want a flat and attractive end result. I brought photos to my plastic surgeon but did not use that terminology. She left skin in places that she wouldn't have (I think) had I used the terminology--my theory is that she thought I'd change my mind. I had a plastic surgeon close me so I could avoid any further surgeries! I've thought about pursuing a revision, but after two years, I'm less enthusiastic.
Lastly, consider asking for a nerve block (whether you choose reconstruction or not). I think it was a big part of what made the recovery so easy. By the time my nerves were really waking up, I was days from surgery and feeling better.
Sorry you find yourself here--truly. Let me know if I can answer further questions if I wasn't clear enough typing this out quickly.
1997: Phyllodes, R breast. 2018: IDC, L breast. TCHP, BMX, Radiation, Nerlynx.
8/20/2018, IDC, Left, Grade 3, 0/1 nodes, ER-/PR-, HER2+ (IHC)