The plastic surgeon Owen and I met with last year was my first preference as he was such a lovely man, however because of that and the fact he is good he is booked out solid. So they have given me the Head of Department. We're pretty happy with that!
The Manukau SuperClinic deals with a lot of plastic surgery and is the "home base" for the breast cancer reconstruction team. The government gave them a heap more money last year to reduce waiting times for women such as me. I'm very grateful. In fact National have really had my back in the breast cancer department firstly with fully funding Herceptin and then last year finding $8 Million to reduce the horrible waiting lists. Keep in mind this isn't just any breast enhancement surgery, but an important step for women who have been ravaged by the loss of breast and much much more. Giving women - mothers, wives, sisters, daughters a chance to feel like women again if that is what is important to them. For me, well if I was older perhaps I wouldn't care, I don't know. But I'm only 31. Being 31 with one breast is horrible to be honest, it hampers what I wear and going swimming is a bit of nightmare so its easier not to. I feel old and unsexy and mutilated. And I'm much too young for that.
What struck me last week was that I announced on my facebook page my excitment at this development, and once again the reaction from friends and family was so lovely and encouraging. Every step along this journey I've never felt alone in support in that area. There was plenty of banter in upsizing, perky new boobs and modeling a new chest etc. Funny? Yes, but true? Probably not. Realistically I'll be lucky to get the cup size I've always been and will have to settle for whatever is left to scrounge together a boob.
Last year when I had my mastectomy I was originally going to have an immediate reconstruction, which involves removal of breast tissue by the breast surgeon, and then the plastic surgeon steps in and he would have given me a silicon implant (that's the easy version). Less scarring, immediate results. But then my cancer had to go and get more complicated - rapidly and dramatically increasing in size and giving us all a big fright and there was no chance of that happening. I was told it would take another 3-5 years to have a breast reconstruction done. At the time I wondered if my surgeon was cryptically trying to tell me he didn't think I would last that long so there was no point spending money on me. Then I realised he meant the waiting lists were horribly long. Phew. Everything was so scary back then I almost chuckle at the absurdity of my thinking.
Back to what's ahead now though. The surgery I'll have will involve putting a bag under my skin where the breast implant will go and then it will be gradually filled with saline over a period of weeks, perhaps months. When it is finally at a size we are all happy with or its the best I can get I have another surgery to put the implant in. But that's not all.
When I finally have my breast I'll always have a big long scar cutting through it which will go through to under my arm. I won't have a nipple. That's another surgery where they make me a new one out of my own skin and tissue and sew it on. Then the areola gets tattooed on if I'm still game to have them played with. Its an intense process.
And this isn't even mentioning the right boob, which is feeling incredibly left out right now. I'm still determined to have that one removed too, so if they can time it right and get them done on the same operation then that would be so great.
I wanted to write all the above information, not to make those who bantered with me feel bad, because I love banter and jokes and I feel secure in their support and love. But I also want the truth and the right information to be out there. Having breast reconstruction doesn't mean getting a new pair of awesome boobs, but just a step in the healing process, healing of the mind.
I know I linked to this site last week, but I'll leave you with a few beautiful images of women who have done or are to do what I've got ahead of me. Photographs by Jay David for The SCAR Project.