Thursday, July 7, 2011

Hair's the Story

I've been in a holding pattern this week, which is kinda nice after all I've been through the past month.  I'm slowly beginning to feel like myself and I am getting around a lot more. In fact, lately I have attended church, started to drive locally, and have been able to sit at my computer at work and "catch up" to all that has been put on hold or was awaiting my attention.  It is very good to be away from the "four walls" of my home and to "join the human race" once again.

I went for my one and only appointment this week (imagine that...only ONE!) on Tuesday to the plastic surgeon.  My regular surgeon was on vacation, so I saw his associate who had assisted on my last surgery.  He was very quiet, not at all like my regular surgeon, and the visit was quickly over.  But he did say that things are progressing normally and I still need another couple weeks for the swelling to go down enough to continue the reconstruction.

And here is the part that I think "needs some 'splaining".  I have had a few of you asking about the reconstruction since you remembered it had already begun at the mastectomy and didn't understand what is happening at this moment.  So, "hair's (here's) the story"....(forgive my pun but hair is utmost on my mind).  At the time of the surgery, tissue extenders were placed behind the muscles in my chest.  These extenders are slowly filled over time with saline solution to enable the muscle to expand to the size I will choose as my "new size".  Contrary to popular opinion, bigger is not always better and I just want a comfortable size for my height and weight.  Once this size is agreed on, then the silicone is put into place during a small procedure in the surgeon's office.

After my last surgery, however, as the saline was being inserted....all the problems with my skin were beginning.  At that time, the surgeon had to take out most of the fluid he had inserted.  If you remember, he tried various treatments to save the tissue, but my skin just (as he said) "wasn't behaving".  It was finally decided that I had to have the skin grafts in order to continue any of the reconstruction efforts.  So, the skin and some muscle was taken from my back and sewn over the "misbehaving skin".  This is where we are now...awaiting the swelling from the skin grafts to recede so the saline can once again be inserted and this part of the reconstruction can begin again.  

I hope this explanation clears up any questions or confusion.  To put it simply, the runway is built, we are just waiting for the airplanes to arrive! 

In the meantime, I am just so thankful to God that He was with me all this time and carried me through some of the most difficult parts.  It seemed over the winter that this point in my treatment was so very far away.  Now, I am here on the last of the roads I need to yet travel.  I am, hopefully, done with surgeries.  I am done with chemo and just have the "every 3 week" Herceptin for the next 7 months.  I will be on the Anastrozole medication that I will need to take for 5 years.  It is much like the Tamoxifin you may be familiar with, but geared toward women who have already gone through menopause.  It decreases the amount of estrogen the body makes and therefore, slows or stops the growth of many types of breast cancer that need estrogen to grow (which mine did).  Of course, I will also be seeing my surgeons (breast and plastic), my oncologist, and my internist more often than I had before.  But THE WORST IS OVER!  I am on my way to becoming that "survivor" and earning my Pink Ribbon!

In the meantime, hair is utmost on my mind and I am also glad my eyelashes and eyebrows are just about grown in.  I have even had to shave my legs and underarms again!  And the hair on my head is taking its time coming in; but since it is summer and just looks like a "boy's cut", I have been going without wigs all the time and without hats most of the time.  I cannot wait for the top of my head to have enough hair to "spike" with some good gel!

So, that's it for now.  I'm at a "happy lull" in the action.  And glad to be here at this point!

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