Report on The Girls

mstectomyscar

As of today, I am three weeks out from my surgery.  I saw my plastic surgeon today and he is thrilled with the results (Silver Lining)!

There is still a fair amount of swelling and bruising and I am bound in my excessively unsexy surgical bra 24/7, but I’m giddy that my physical healing is now, officially, on the up and up. The Girls are looking great and doing exactly what they are supposed to be doing!

I’ve had lots of people ask me about the whole process of getting new Girls. So, I thought I’d take this opportunity to explain….It all began with Booby Removal and Reconstruction on November 8, 2010, when I had my double mastectomy and expanders placed.

Because sometimes a visual says so much more than words, below is a diagram of what tissue expanders (the precursor to implants) look like. As you may recall, tissue expansion is a requisite process that (post-breast removal) stretches the remaining skin in preparation for the placement of a permanent implant.

Much to my chagrin, it is impossible to simply substitute an implant for breast tissue. A tissue expander is therefore required. An expander is like an inflatable breast implant that is inserted into a pocket under the skin and muscle of the chest. The expander takes up the entire pocket (which explains why they felt so incredibly hard and immobile).

Implants (in my case saline) are actually smaller than the expanders. So, when my expanders were exchanged for implants, there was some (intended) space in this pocket. This space is what makes the implants look and feel more natural. Well, as natural as implants can feel. (A girl can hope, right?!?)

Now, the key to implant longevity is moving them in the cavity.  This creates space to give the The Girls movement, keeps The Girls soft, and also break up small binding constrictions (i.e., scar tissue).

Remember after my surgery when my doctor taught me how to move them in the pocket (and I saw stars?)? It was a MAJOR owie at first. But, I learned how to do it and today at my appointment demonstrated a proficiency in moving The Girls myself (Silver Lining).  I have to do this twice a day – forever.

So there we have it.  Lookin’ and feel in’ better with each passing day. This process sure has reminded me of the long, windy treatment road to success.

On another note, someone asked me recently whether breast reconstruction can hide cancer or cause it to come back.  Yes, someone did indeed ask me that. The Silver Lining is that there are studies demonstrating that reconstruction does not make breast cancer come back. If the cancer does come back (oh puhleaaaase let’s hope not!), reconstructed breasts should not cause problems with chemotherapy or radiation treatment.

Today, I’m feeling exceptionally grateful that things are going as smoothly as they can possibly go, which is the ultimate Silver Lining!

(S)he is a wise (WO)man who does not grieve for the things which (S)he has not, but rejoices for those which (S)he has.

– Epictetus

Leave a comment

Comments

  1. says

    You inspire so many thanks Hollye. Remember to say"Everyday in everyway I'm getting better than ever" Believe it say it or fake it til you make/believe it. Keep going ladies, keep sharing and enjoy everyday. Only 10mins allowed to "wallow" a day allowed!!

  2. Kristin Desiree&#039 says

    Just wanted to thank you for your website… I am 10 tens out of my double mascetomy, and I, also , have the expanders.. I see I have a long road ahead, but reading your piece made it somewhat easier to understand.. thank you

  3. says

    Just wanted you to know that you inspire me and all those taking the BC journey. I am on day 3 of my radiation, taking one day at a time. Can't look down the road – because it seems too long.

    • says

      Thank you so much for your note, Mary. The road is a long one indeed. Taking it one step at a time is a very wise way to approach it. All my best wishes to you! Hollye

  4. fran says

    I hope you don't mind me asking. but at first I thought I was getting the silicon/saline implant things after the TE . Now I've switched to a new closer doc-3 hrs away as opposed to long way away in NYC. But now this one is recommending the diep. you had rads/chemo too. I start rads/25 zaps end of month. recon in fall. I know the diep is a lotta sx that I will think about later. can't wait to get rid of the torture expander. Im not even sure what I'm asking.

    • says

      Hi Fran, Boy oh boy, do I ever remember the process of decision making. It's so challenging. My best friend had the diep procedure. It was a longer recovery for her, but she didn't want to have to have a second surgery. I made my decision (to have expanders and then implants) because I wanted to be extra safe in preserving the muscles in my back. At the end of the day, I would recommend finding a quiet place and really asking yourself what feels best. Only you know. I hope that this helps. Please let me know if you need any other information or support. All my very best to you!

  5. Jo Shanafelt says

    I am just going through lumpectomy and now talking about radiation…something that bothers me is all but 1 of my friends has bailed out…do they really think I'm contagious? This hurts worse than the healing pain. Good luck with girls….it's so important to take care. xojo

    • says

      Wow, Jo. I'm so sorry to hear this. I had the same pain with several people who couldn't cope with my diagnosis and treatment. It was super disappointing, but I knew that it was about them, not about me. The Silver Lining, however, was that I had many other people who really rose to the occasion in beautiful, unexpected ways. I hope the same happens for you, Jo. Take good care & please stay in touch.

  6. says

    Hol-

    I am so happy that you have arrived at this moment in time!!!! You go girl!!!!!!!!
    I love you!!!!!!
    Love Always,
    Jody
    XOXO

  7. says

    As I sit here getting chemo I so enjoy reading your posts and quotes every morning! I have 12 more weeks of chemo and then I can get my " new girls" too!all your info is really appreciated! Thank-you!

    • says

      Wow, Denise. Thank you so much. I really appreciate your kind words and send all of my best wishes to you as you finish your chemo! Take good care!

  8. Kim C says

    Congratulations! I'm so glad you're feeling and looking better with every passing day! Excellent answer to a difficult question & oh ya, we do get some doozies! You most definitely are a strong, empowered and amazing woman to me!
    Thank YOU, as always!
    Kim

  9. says

    I'm so glad that you're starting to feel better. The reconstruction process sucks. But you're on the home stretch and will feel better every day. XO