Cancer Lesson #73: Being Treated for Breast Cancer Expands Your Undergarment Wardrobe.

Cancer Lesson #73: Being treated for breast cancer expands your undergarment wardrobe.

Sorry, guys. I’m not talking Victoria’s Secret. Think Bridget Jones’s granny panties.

You see, while having tissue relocated from stomach to chest leaves a flatter stomach (Yay!), it also weakens the abdominal muscles (Boo!)

Hence, the temporary need for support knickers, aka “granny panties.”

For several weeks – or was it months? – these lovely undies were accessorized by a cotton contrivance of a brassiere with thick straps and Velcro closures. Sexy, this bra was not.

For a long time, even wearing a sports bra was painful because of my scars so I resorted to camisoles, and not the alluring lacy ones the word calls to mind. Mine were more like tank tops with lycra. Not bad, but definitely not the come-hither attire of a siren.

Then I had my “reconstruction revision procedure.” How’s that for a medical euphemism? (See Cancer Lesson #43 “A Glossary” for more and #57 “Sets Don’t Have to Match” to add to your breast vocabulary.)

Happily, the anesthesiologist knocked me out for the procedure. Unhappily, I work up wearing yet another surgical bra.

Sigh. I put on my big girl panties and got on with it.

Addendum: I would be remiss if I closed without sharing a link to “Otto Titsling” sung by Bette Midler. If you’ve never heard this paean to the subject of female support, click through and enjoy.


Cancer Lesson #26: “Wanna see my new boob?”

Cancer Lesson #25: “Wanna see my new boob?”

Sometime during the first night after my surgery, the hospital resident on duty stopped to check in on how I was doing. He asked if I’d looked at my reconstruction yet.

It hadn’t occurred to me, not because I had any reservations about doing so, but because only one activity held any attraction, and that was sleep, sleep, and sleep some more.

Still, I couldn’t help sneaking a peek when he removed my big, ugly, white, Velcro-closed bra.

I had a new breast.

If I squinted hard and used my imagination, it sort of looked like my old one, despite the stitches, and the tubes coming out of my flesh. Dr. K2 had even made me a new “nipple,” something normally done later as outpatient surgery.

I felt somehow comforted by the fact that I still had something to put into my bra. Even if it was a big, ugly and white  with Velcro closures.

When my husband happened to come in as Dr. K2 was examining his work, I asked him if he wanted to take a look.

“Wanna see my new boob?” The doc repeated my words with a laugh.

The Engineer merely shrugged and moved closer to study my new breast. He may even have said something about it looking pretty good.

Engineers are like that. Nothing seems to faze them.

Addendum: I came across this video from a CBS news report on the breast reconstruction. They cite some interesting statistics and facts.

Cancer Lesson #21: This could get complicated.

Cancer Lesson #21: This could get complicated.

As with any surgery, a TRAM flap can result in complications. Being I am a hopeless nerd, I researched the ramifications of every possible choice before deciding to pursue this type of reconstruction immediately after my mastectomy.

My plastic surgeon responded to this request by providing a detailed explanation of the surgery. Then he described the possible side effects up to and including death. We also discussed other procedures and their possible complications.

I had to fight the urge to giggle though I know it wasn’t funny. It just seemed odd to be considering the possibility of death via reconstruction when I was walking around with a cancer time bomb in my breast.

Besides, death is a possible complication of practically every medical procedure you can name, including many we think of as routine.

For that matter, death is more or less a complication of living.

I could deal with the <1% chance of death by TRAM flap. It was the possible side effects of chemo – puking in particular – that worried me. And the needles. The idea of the needles scared me spitless.

Still, if you’re considering a TRAM, you should be aware of the possible complications, which are listed here:

As always, I am not a member of the medical community, and nothing I say should be construed in any way as medical advice. Any decisions about your care should be made by you and your doctor. Yada, yada, yada, I know, but I don’t want  anyone thinking I can provide guidance about their treatment.

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