We all hide behind smiles and clothing but behind closed doors we all face reality… Learning to fall in love with the new “me” 

5 days post with oily hair and hidden drains

Well a new chapter is upon me as I have undergone my exchange surgery on March 23,2017. What is exchange surgery you ask? It’s where the surgeon takes out the tissue expanders aka “rocks” and inserts the actual implant since the expander has done its job and created a nice stretched pocket under the muscle for the implant. To bad that’s not the ending! The implants are so soft in comparison and even upon waking up I didn’t feel like an elephant was sitting on my chest or raw muscle was exposed with knives poking through. 

This is still a process as the final look won’t reveal itself for 3-6months, always kept in suspense 😩🤗😂 they seem flat and not much projection right now but they have to settle and “drop and fluff” I had what was called fat graphing done at the same time, the dr lipo excess fat from my arms and sides to fill around the implant so you won’t see the outline of the implant, sounds exciting! Well it hurts like hell! But I am sure I will appreciate once swelling subsides. 

Surgery for me lasted  9hours I had quite a bit of work that had to be done due to my left expander living a life of its own for 12 weeks, ended up coming out of the pocket and the alloderm sling broke that support the breast.Ended up the 3 drains not 1, the drains are a spawn of the devil. They are gross, long and you have to be rather creative to hide them, the shirt in the pic above is my only lightweight button up long shirt (winter is ideal for drains not spring or summer )so that’s my attire for the next couple week in public! I put a drain in each pocket of my jeans and then the other one down the front of my pants! Ta da! You would have never known! At home I have a laynard that I just wear around my neck. You aren’t allowed to shower or bathe until they are out either, dry shampoo and walk in shower have been my bffs. (I lean over and wash my hair every few days) but it wears me out!  I am such a troublemaker 😂 the last 4 months I have been under anesthesia for a total of 19 hours between the 2 surgeries, that’s a little scary! I still don’t grasp the magnitude of what I did, I don’t think I ever will. I just knew I needed to do what I had to save my life for my daughters. 

I will wrap this up and this is for anyone that is possibly going through this. There will never be perfection, there will never be complete “feeling”, there will always be scars and that’s been the hardest for me to get through. I am still struggling with anxiety and just falling in love with myself again. I do not feel Beautiful, sexy, desirable.. I am hoping that will come again because I won’t let the scars define me. I found happiness in the fact that I am cancer free and can live! I will show pics below of the bruising from the fat graphing and the implants. This again is hard and out of my zone but I want to inspire and make people fully understand what we have to go through. I still have drains, and once the dropping and fluffing happen it will create a more natural breast and cleavage. But keep in mind, implants aren’t forever. I will more than likely have to have them replaced once or twice in my lifetime. Shit as I type I am thinking boobs are overrated!! I may go flat next time! My advice for a few things to help people in either stage or reconstruction 

  • Be compassionate, now is not the time to voice your mind.. if ever 
  • Meals.. bring a meal, it helps way more than you can imagine just no lasagna! Seems to be the go to for everyone! And maybe consider sending in several smaller sized containers, we can’t lift and our range of motion is not good to lift heavy dishes. Also a life saver for us was someone gave us disposable plates,silverware, napkins. Huge relief! 
  • Just do it. I will never ask, it’s not my nature and many are like that. If you feel lead to offer a helping hand just do it! We will be grateful 
  • Pray daily, I struggle and have good days and bad and prayer had guided me through 
  • Offer support by listening or letting us cry. You don’t have to have answers and we don’t want them we just need someone to listen to us 
  • Hand written cards, I received some and that’s what go me through the day sometimes
  • Companionship, just come hang out if we feel up to it, sometimes we feel as thou the world has shut us out and 4 walls close in quickly 
  • You can look up all sorts of masectomy recovery gifts, anything helps!
  • Be supportive through ALL surgeries not just the first one, we need help and support through it all. If you are a loved one or friend you signed up for the long haul, be here for us! Believe me we know it’s a process! 
  • Never use the phrase “new boobs” they will never be boobs again, we lose all sensation and feeling. The survivors and previvors refer to them as “Foobs” 

Find your support group you will need it! Even if you are an introvert or extrovert you can’t do this alone, I beg you to find your people! 

Below will be images.. one day I will feel whole again! I hide behind my clothes and smiles and in no way view myself as a hero or someone who is strong enough not to feel the repercussions of this journey. I have days I can’t process and I cry alone and some days I lay in bed and can’t get out, I don’t feel sorry for myself I hate that I had to go through this but at the end of the day I am human and dealing with the cards or results rather that were laid in front of me. 

When I got home and removed all the bandages but couldn’t bring myself to look yet..
The stiches in my arm pit from liposuction
Bruise from just one fat graphing site, I had a total of 4 sites. ( come to find out I am allergic to whatever tape they used as well)
The scars will fade over time and won’t be noticed in a vneck or swimsuit 
This is my reality right now, 5 days post op.. they are still super swollen and super high. But I am proud of them even though I can’t seem to look more than a few seconds without tears

I will post one more just to show how crazy the expanders are and then how the outcome is better. They always say the expanders have no indication on how the final result will look and I want this pic to be reassuring to anyone facing this journey 

Implants on top expanders on bottom

Thank you all for allowing this as my coping mechanism and allowing me to share my personal journey! 
I feel as I should mention that there will be many steps in this surgery depending on what route you go. And no one procedure should be taken lightly but the first initial masectomy/tissue expander surgery is by far the worse to recover from and mentally prepare for(even if that’s possible) I also had a full hysterectomy and had no complications at all and if you can get done at same time I recommend it. You are looking at a 8-12 week recovery 

The Exchange surgery is a faster and easier recovery atleast for me and from research seems to be the norm. Looking at a 4-6week recovery. This surgery I only took pain pills the first 24 hours(not to say this is for everyone) but also the scariest mentally as it’s the “new” permanent. 

Also worth mentioning if you know this is in your future consider getting short term disability if you don’t have already or start planning financially if you bring in income. Save vacation/ sick days you will need them for all pre-ops and appointments leading up to surgery 

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7 thoughts on “We all hide behind smiles and clothing but behind closed doors we all face reality… Learning to fall in love with the new “me” 

  1. Thank you for sharing your story. I’m right behind you… kind of. My surgery to do the preventative mastectomy and put in my expanders is tentatively in August. I will get my exact date in June. Thank you for being strong enough to share your story & pics. It definitely helps me not feel alone.

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      1. Of course! I too have felt very alone in this. No one understands how we are feeling. Every day, every Dr appointment, every moment, & every time some asks you regarding it … is another time you have to process it all. I am always down to talk/listen if you need someone. Email: jcancilla85@outlook.com

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  2. Thank you for another reality post. I am BRCA 2 positive and will be taking a similar path soon. Your blog is very helpful in helping me to understand the process. I recently joined a facebook group for those with breast cancer. Do you know of any support groups for those of us with the gene and that are taking preventative measures?

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  3. Thank you for sharing your story. I my self am brca+ and will be undergoing a preventative double mastectomy. It’s a lot to process but reading stories of other young women like myself makes me feel less alone.

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