It’s now been 19 months since I was first diagnosed with cancer. It’s been a 14 month wait since last years Mastectomy, when Bella was made out of fat and tissue taken from my stomach. Over 1000 stitches later and a 40cm long scar leading from one hip to the other. Bella the right new breast started off almost the same size as Betty (her neighbour). During this last year I have managed to get back training and riding and as I’m starting to lose some of the weight gained during chemo, Betty is now half size of Bella. During the big operation last year, the nipple was removed as one of the tumors were lodged behind it. This year Bella is getting a new nipple!
At first me and the surgeon Mr Ghosh discussed options we could do to make the two breasts look more alike again. Other than the non-existing nipple, we have the size difference. I had been told Bella would shrink within the first year. That’s what normally happens when you “transplant” tissue. But since my bloodsupply is excellent to the transplanted tissue, Bella has not shrunk one bit… Fit and healthy! So options for the size are: getting an implant to Betty and liposuction on Bella or lipo-addition to Betty and Bella still liposucked… Option for the missing nipple were: tattoo or “small” nipple making operation, followed by tattoo.
The problem with adding fat to Betty to make her bigger is that it’s the healthy non-cancerous breast and fat cells are active live cells. Hence you could bring bad active cells into an area of at the moment only good cells. The problem with adding an implant is that it goes against everything I previously have thought would be good for me.
The nipple operation was discussed as a “small” operation where only a local anesthetic would be neccecary. It wasn’t until my darling husband at the meeting with the surgeon 30min before my operation started asking questions about how the nipple would be constructed. And Mr Ghosh, who is a bit of an artist and never happier than during complex questions such as my husbands.
After a whole description of cutting, slicing and folding, a sketch that looked a bit like an eye, my husband looking a bit white and green and needing no more explanation, I really started to wonder if a General Anaesthetic was not preferable.
Not wanting to look like a coward I decided not to say anything about preferring to sleep, but instead walked down to surgery wearing my most excellent outfit. Tight stockings in a beautiful white, open backed hospital gown and a robe. I was put on a table and washed off with a whole lot of Betadine. All parts that weren’t being operated on were covered in green sterile paper. Mr Ghosh was asking the crew in the operation suite if they had a camera and a screen so I could watch the whole operation on. Luckily they said no.
The operation started. All meassurements had been taken before and were double checked and inked in on my skin. The “eye” shape was drawn out on my breast. I didn’t need a video or a screen as I could see the Bella-butchery clear and large in the reflection of Mr Ghosh’s surgery glasses. They were not only prescription glasses with magnifying and special lightning options. They worked as a magnifying mirror for me.
First there was some cutting along the lines. Some burning of the small blood vessels to make them stop bleeding. The burning made a popping sound as well as the smell of blood and burnt skin. As I saw the mirrored image of my scalped middle of breast, I understood there would be a long time before I would feel like eating meat again, I think carpaccio is out of the question forever…
I had running commentary from Mr Ghosh.
Question:-“Do you know who would be very impressed by this?”
I answered:-“Eh, no your art teacher?”
“Yes!! It’s like origami, you know the folding of paper”
-“Oh so I might end up with a small bird for my nipple?”…. No answer, not sure he enjoyed my sense of humor.
Then some stitches were put in, some more folding, more stitches. Other than me now feeling a bit nauseous I was equally impressed by the shape that appeared!
If I struggle for outfit for Hallowen all I need to do is rip off my bandages and go as Frankenstein!
Even though I hadn’t gone under a general anesthetic they had decided that I should stay over one night at hospital. It all worked out for the best. Now my biggest worry is my 14 days without exercise… Apparently tomorrow I will be fitted with something waterproof on top of all bandages. And in 2 weeks we will see if the operation has been successful!
In a further 4-6 weeks I will be able to get my tattoo… I was thinking another butterfly.. or a rose… or maybe just another nipple…
Keep Smiling 🙂 it’s a never ending story and tomorrow Mel is turning 8!