Steve and I met with an amazing Dr. at the end of May to discuss my surgery options. Her name is Dr. Marga Massey. She met with us on a Saturday and spent an entire 2 hours just talking with us. I was getting nervous that she may need to hurry so she could see other patients. But she took her time with us. She was so kind and personal. She was previously located at the U of U hospital but has since moved her practice to 3 different cities. She is now in Chicago, Charleston or New Orleans. Dr. Massey flies back to Utah 4 times a year to still see her "Utah girls", and to do second stage surgeries. She was highly recommended by a couple of my friends that had her do their surgeries as well. I was totally impressed.
She explained the different options of breast reconstruction. First being a tram flap which sounds great because it gives you a tummy tuck at the same time. But they take all the abdomen muscle as well and push it to the top to make the breasts. Even just sitting up from the couch would be difficult, so that I don't want. Next being implants. A lot of women choose implants because they look nice and the recovery is pretty quick. But because I have to have radiation, the implants have a 100% failure rate over 5 years with radiation patients. So not wanting to have surgery every 5 years I went to Dr. Massey for another option.
Dr. Massey is different from most of the plastic surgeons here in Utah in that she is a micro surgeon. She takes tissue and/or fat from either the abdomen or the gluteus area and transplants it to reconstruct the breasts. She uses a microscope during surgery to reconnect blood vessels so the tissue has a blood supply. There is no muscle involved. And yes it also gives you a tummy or butt tuck. The surgery is 8-10 hours long and the recovery is a little more difficult since there are 2 areas to heal, the transplant site and the donor site. This would be stage 1 surgery. We will have to fly to one of her cities that she practices in, most likely New Orleans, to have the surgery done. We will be gone a total of 10 days. And then recovery is 6 weeks. I think the trickiest part will be flying home for 4 hours after surgery. Yikes! I hope the pain meds are good.
There are more surgeries that follow stage 1...stage 2 and stage 3. These are more of the cosmetic or cleanup surgeries where they go in and smooth out the areas and make things look more "normal". These phases would be done here in Utah at Alta hospital. But with each surgery and recovery time, the total reconstruction process could take up to a year to be completely finished. Ugh! Something to look forward to for next summer.
My last chemo treatment will be on July 19th, and my oncologist does not want to wait very long between chemo and surgery since cancer can start growing back. Therefore, we are working on a date of August 11th or 12th to have my bilateral mastectomy with immediate reconstruction. This also means never really going through a mastectomy. When I wake up, the reconstruction will already be done...well at least in the first stage. I think the psychological factor with a bilateral mastectomy is really difficult as well for women. So again I am grateful for this option I have. And it is one less surgery to heal from.
I feel very good about the decision I've made and anxiously await August to arrive. The hardest part is that I will be having surgery right before school starts. I will miss the first 6 weeks of school. I have no idea how to prepare a substitute for the first days of school. But right now I just need to focus on getting better. I keep telling myself, "it will be ok, take deep breaths." I feel like we are finally getting closer to being on the road to recovery. Yay!