Liz

As I sat in the bath, I noticed a brown fluid leaking from my breast, Urrghh!  I knew I should visit the Doctor asap.

Having found a lump in my other breast at the age of 22 which turned out to be a benign fibroid I was sure I could do this.  I was way too young at the age of 45, with a five year old to have the Big C?!  Surely?  Not wanting to be a drama queen, I went to the hospital on my own.  Later, having a biopsy the Doctor asked if I’d bought anyone with me.  I hadn’t, and I still didn’t get it!  Still, he said, it looks like the best kind of Cancer.  Surely, I must have misheard? But, when I went back to the consultant a week later, I thought perhaps I should take the husband.  Ok I thought, so I had a lump out before. I can do this again…

I needed a mastectomy?! S@@T! I was not expecting that!  7cm DCIS and a couple of small areas of invasion. Brave people have cancer…… and I’m not brave!

What will I look like I asked the consultant who showed me a tiny, tiny, picture on the back of his camera of one of his previous patients. To be honest it didn’t give me much of an idea and nor did searches on the internet.  I went to a support group at the hospital hoping for a bit more of a clue but the breast care nurses as supportive as they were couldn’t provide any pictures.  Then, a lovely lady within the group offered to show me her results.  This immediately put me at ease, and, some years later was the reason I felt the need to get involved in Restores show and tell events.

With my youngest daughter having just turned 6 a speedy recovery was important to me.  I didn’t want to wake up to ‘nothing’ so opted for an expander implant on the basis I would be out of hospital after an overnight stay.  A pig skin graft was used to strengthen my skin and hold the implant in place.  Expecting to wake up mummified in bandages I woke up with a sticking plaster no bigger than 6 inches long.  I was bruised, tired and saddled with 2 drains for a couple of weeks but I was alive and allowed home to be visited every day by breast care nurses who checked my drains and wound.  For me being at home was important.  At home I felt in control and I was there with my girls.

After 3 weeks (it was Christmas and before the day of immediate node diagnosis) I was told I needed no further treatment other than tamoxifen.  I kissed the Oncologist poor bloke! Embarrassing I know, but to say I was happy was an understatement! Still tired but very happy to be alive! 6 weeks later I was back at work. Drama over!

I was anxious to have a nipple reconstruction on my path back to normality and had a small operation in day surgery to create one. This was followed by micro pigmentation in my lunch hour to create an areola.  I later had some lipofilling to fill some dents and the implant expanded to smooth creases.  I remember turning the corner in my car one day and my implant feeling like I was carrying a goldfish bowl.  I was booked in for a new implant but awoke from surgery to be told the implant was fine and had flipped over so was repositioned.  However, it eventually resembled a lumpy King Edward potato more than a breast and my cleavage was very lopsided.

I found it very difficult at this time to question my surgeon, after all, I was lucky to be alive! But, I had no confidence in the way my breasts looked and my friends could tell!  Eventually they persuaded me to seek a second opinion and capsular contracture was diagnosed.   With the help of a new surgeon I had a new implant and my nipple centralised and I have had no problems since. I am now so much happier and confident with the symmetry of my cleavage and wearing clothes I never thought I could again.

It was undoubtedly hard to question the ‘work’ of someone who had, effectively saved my life!  I would recommend that no one feels worried about asking for a second opinion if they feel unhappy with their results. Life is for living!

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