Surgery Date Set

Once again I find myself well overdo to write.  Thanks for hanging in there with me and checking back for updates.

Here is what happened last week:

I had a third and final consultation with a Plastic Surgeon.  For those of you that watch House, he reminded Ed and I of Taub.  He looked a lot like him.  He was quite reserved, but grew on us as the consultation progressed. His recommendations were similar to the previous Plastic Surgeons.  We walked out of there with a decision.  And the winner is…Plastic Surgeon Number 2!  After three consultations and three sets of new patient forms, a Plastic Surgeon was selected.  What a relief.  Ed and I both feel good and confident about our decision.  That day I made a phone call to schedule surgery.  The Plastic Surgeon people talked with the Breast Surgeon people and the Northside Hospital people.  Twenty four hours later I got a call from the Breast Surgeon people with my surgery date.  It’s September 6th, the day after Labor Day.  Surgery is scheduled for 1:00 p.m. but I have to check in at 8:30 a.m.  Mark your calendars!

The other decision we had to make is the type of reconstruction.  For those just joining, I have selected to do a double or bi-lateral mastectomy.  I have no choice on the right breast (it has to go) but have made the choice to also take the left breast.  Throughout the process, there were really two reconstruction options that were recommended for us to consider.  The “simplest” one is placing an implant beneath the skin in the location of the normal breast using something called AlloDerm which holds the implant in place.  AlloDerm is processed from donated human skin – which goes through a cell removal process (weird but used regularly in reconstructions).  The other option is called a latissimus flap.  In this procedure, they don’t use AlloDerm – they use the skin, fat, and muscle from your back and “flap” it around to the front.  They also use an implant with that procedure.  A drawback is that there is a scar on the back on both sides, but it is generally under the bra line.  The positive is it provides a little more natural look and typically improves the cosmetic result of reconstruction.  After lots of discussion, we’ve decided on the latissimus flap.

So, on the 6th of September the plan is for “the girls” to both come off and for a good portion of the reconstruction to happen the same day.  I should be in the hospital one night, maybe two.  Total recovery time is 4 – 6 weeks.  There will be lots of follow-up appointments and an outpatient surgery or two with the Plastic Surgeon before all of this is said and done.  More to come on that process.

Last week we also had a consultation with the Radiation Oncologist.  Who’s that you ask?  It’s the doctor that makes the call on whether or not I am going to need radiation post-surgery.  It’s not my Oncologist, but rather a Radiation Oncologist.  Apparently it’s quite a specialty.  She was referred to us and is over at St. Joseph’s Hospital in the Cancer Center.  The good news from that consultation is Ed and I really liked her and felt good about the practice.  We learned a lot and now have a better understanding of the process.  The bad news is she still can’t tell us much until she has the detailed pathology post-surgery.  So, at this stage I am still 50/50 on whether or not I will have to undergo radiation.  It has nothing to do with the fact that I am doing a double mastectomy.  It has everything to do with what they find during surgery.  The best case scenario is that they remove the breast tissue and get “clean margins” and they don’t find any cancer cells in my lymph nodes.  If that’s the case, no radiation!  If they find any cancer cells in my lymph nodes, or if they are at all concerned about the leaving any cancer cells behind, that means radiation.  If I have to do radiation, it will be anywhere from 25-40 days total.  I would have to go in  Monday through Friday every day at roughly the same time for the number of days recommended.  Doesn’t that sound fun?  Yuck.  Of course I will do what I have to do.  We’ve come this far and want to be sure we get any and all cancer cells in my body.  I don’t ever want to go through this again!  But let’s pray I don’t need radiation!

The afternoon after the consultation with the Radiation Oncologist was tough.  I was really upset because it was a reminder that this is going to be a long, long process.  I guess I had convinced myself that the light was at the end of the tunnel now that chemo was over and surgery was in sight.  But the reality is this is going to take a while.  I had a real moment of “I don’t want to do this anymore…I’m over it…This is awful…Why is this happening to me?”  Since then I have had to bring myself back into a “one step at a time” mode.  Chemo done…check.  Plastic surgeon selected…check.  Surgery date set…check.  Now we move on to preparing for surgery.  I have lots of consent forms to complete and sign; some pre-testing to do at the hospital; childcare to line up; and in general a lot of things to get in order before the 6th. It will be a busy few weeks but we are making good progress.

As always, thanks to everyone for their support and kind words.  Ed, Gracie and I really appreciate it!


  1. Who’s your surgeon? Eric’s ex-wife is planning her surgery now too and frankly it doesn’t seem like she has been given as many or as good option.

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