Tuesday, February 24, 2015
Run/ Walk/ Bike/ Elliptical (Today: 2.5 miles; Running Total: 183.63 miles)
Day 228 of *Another* 100 Days of Good Karma.
Today I went back to the plastic surgeon to have the tissue expander in my right breast deflated. This has to be done before the radiation simulation on Wednesday. The radiation oncologist can’t have a breast mound in the area that’s going to receive radiation treatment because they are aiming the radiation at a very specific area. The curve of a breast could throw off the angle of the beams and reduce the effectiveness of the radiation treatment.
I wasn’t excited to have the tissue expander deflated. I felt good having two breasts. Having it for such a brief amount of time and then having it taken away felt like a tease.
Like the god in charge of breast cancer treatment has a shitty sense of humor. Here’s a small feeling of normal. Ha ha! Just kidding. Now give it back.
I know this last few weeks of inflating the tissue expander laid the groundwork for breast reconstruction after radiation is over. But still. I didn’t want to give up having two breasts, no matter how incongruous they looked.
The surgeon’s PA deflated the tissue expander the same way she inflated it only in reverse. She marked the top of my breast with an X, popped a needle in and sucked the fluid out of the tissue expander with a giant syringe. I didn’t feel anything except sadness to see the basketball deflate.
I knew I wouldn’t be happy having the tissue expander deflated so I made a counseling appointment right after the deflation appointment. If I was going to fall apart I knew I’d need some perspective.
I told my counselor I was worried how I would look in my clothes.
“What am I going to wear? It’s cold today so I can wear a sweatshirt, but this is Texas. Next week it could be 80 degrees and I’m going to hate wearing a t-shirt because people will see the unevenness in my breasts.” (One breast is very clearly larger than the other now.)
Her advice: she pointed out that I have very short hair right now and yet I wasn’t wearing a hat or a wig or a scarf. She said she has clients that can’t even think about going without a wig or a scarf right at this stage of hair growth. While my hair growth isn’t ideal, she said I’m owning it in a way that others haven’t been able to yet. She challenged me to look at the unevenness in my breasts the same way.
Is it ideal? No.
Is it how I’d like to look? No, again.
Can I change it? For a third time, nope.
She said as much as I can to just let how I look in clothing be what it is with the knowledge that I won’t always look this way.
She asked me how I felt about having the tissue expander deflated. I surprised myself by being mostly okay with having the tissue expander deflated. I wasn’t panicked or totally depressed.
She said that was good, but to also keep in mind that my feelings could and probably would change. How I felt right then wasn’t a static state of being, and that was okay, too. Tonight after I get home or a few days from now I might feel differently and if I do, she would be there if I needed her.
I told her I was just tired of breast cancer treatment. My plastic surgeon said it’s like I’m running into a headwind (he’s a runner, too, so he knew the perfect allegory to use in the situation).
First I did six months of chemo. Before I barely caught my breath from that, then I was facing down surgery. Now that I’m just starting to feel normal after surgery my breast was deflated and now I’m going into radiation.
Breast cancer treatment is relentless and exhausting.
My counselor told me anyone would be tired from this. She encouraged me to try and take radiation in small bites. Just think about the simulation and deal with the first week of radiation later. Then when the first week of radiation comes, deal with the second week later.
She said she has clients that walk away from treatment every day. Clients that elect to not go through with chemo or surgery or radiation. I can’t blame them. I can’t judge what’s too much for another person to bear. Cancer treatment is awful in so many ways.
For me, walking away is not an option. I’m going to finish this thing. Even if I have to do it one day at a time.
Today’s silver lining: Let the last phase of breast cancer treatment begin.
And pray I never ever have to go through this again.
What’s your silver lining today? I love comments!
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