Here’s a frustrating email conversation between me and my husband’s second cousin. Did I mention his family is BRCA1+? That’s a whole other post for another day. For now, you just need to know that his cousin is having a bilateral mastectomy with DIEP reconstruction in May.
Cousin: Sorry to hear that immediate reconstruction may not be an option. It certainly complicates things and doesn’t offer the relief of having “it” over with. Do you mind if I ask why?
Me: My boobs are pretty big. I want to go from a DD to a C. But the plastic surgeon I saw said there’d be so much extra skin that to cut it off could leave too big of an incision (which could easily open rather widely). And it’s too much skin to just fold over the tissue – he said it would require a whole second surgery to make it look normal (more significant surgery than the DIEP phase 2 surgery which is just touch-up and nipple-adding). I am seeing two more plastic surgeons, so we”ll see if they agree.
Cousin: Interesting — I am even bigger than that and also want to go to a C and my plastic surgeon did not mention any concerns like that at all. And I know another woman who has had DIEP (by my plastic surgeon) and she said she was even bigger than I am now and she did immediate bilateral reconstruction with no issues. She had it done before starting chemo. Don’t give up hope. I know you wouldn’t come to Boston for your surgery (I wouldn’t if I were you) but here’s his practice’s website just for reference. http://www.bostondiep.com/
Me: That’s why I’m meeting with two more plastic surgeons. I’ve never heard of this issue, and I knew I wasn’t the only person who’s ever had it!
The email from her just confirmed my original suspicion – I don’t think Dr Nguyen really wanted to take my case. It was just the impression I got while he was examining me. So, I’m extra curious now to hear what the other plastic surgeons have to say.
On the other hand, the idea of just having the mastectomy is tempting – it means only a few weeks off from work, less pain – it’s just easier in general. Really, it’s sad, but I’m most concerned about being away from work for so long. I just don’t think it looks good – I’ve only been there one semester. Having the immediate DIEP surgery means I’ll basically be out the whole semester. I have so many projects and programs I’m running this semester – I would hate to lose the momentum I worked really hard for last semester. I suppose I should do what’s best for my body, not my job, but a tenure-track job is hard to come by and I am so grateful to have it! I don’t want to risk it even if it is a major health crisis, of sorts.