Breast expanders vs. radiation burns: 3rd surgery
Eventually, the war between the burns and the expander came to a crisis point. Exactly two weeks after my last radiation treatment, a big bubble was protruding out of my breast. This blister broke two days later, and wouldn’t stop draining fluids and thick goop. This was totally gross and very disturbing. The pain was out of this world — probably worse than when I had my double mastectomy. I ended up having to see my plastic surgeon because there was a hole in my breast, and they could see inside to the breast expander.
My plastic surgeon took one look and said that what he was going to have to do was to remove the expander completely, and clean (or “power wash”) everything out, and then close it back up with no placeholder on that side. He told me that because my plan is to use my tummy tissue for my final (DIEP flap) reconstruction, this is the best thing. We can use some tissue from the other breast, along with my stomach, to form the two breasts.
I had my surgery on Tuesday the 29th of July. That day also happened to be our wedding anniversary (23 years). I guess I have one more thing to celebrate on that day — the removal of my ugly nasty expander. Lol … so now neither of the two expanders that were situated during my double mastectomy on March 10th has held up. (My left expander was replaced on April 4th due to a staph infection.)
I do feel so much better since having that expander removed, and when I saw Dr. Hijjawi this past Monday, I couldn’t stop hugging him. The expanders never really felt that great from the start. I also had the added bonus of having yet another drain installed during surgery because there was so much fluid. Luckily, the doctor was able to remove my drain when I saw him on Monday. I now have to keep my breast(s) wrapped with an ACE bandage for the next week, and I will get my stitches out the following week.
This past Friday we went to our first Relay For Life event in Kenosha at UW-Parkside. The breast cancer support group (Circle of Hope) that I belong to meets up every year to walk the track together. One thing that I thought about while walking with all of the other survivors was that each one of these people has a story to tell. To see all of them there in purple shirts with their families and caregivers, it was really special.
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