Tuesday, 31 March 2015

6 Weeks Post Op following Set Back

6 weeks ago today I had a double mastectomy and reconstruction.

1 week ago today I had one of the implants removed due to a big infection and seroma.

So far, although I didn't plan to be breast less I can quite honestly say that I feel alot more comfortable than I have since I had the initial operation.

This time last week I couldn't see the light at the end of the tunnel, moving was painful and I assumed a hunched posture as normal.

Today I had my check up with the surgeon.

She decided not to remove the stitches, to allow a couple more days for it to heal some more. They are the old fashioned type which are not very pretty but they allow for any fluid to leak out.

There was some fluid under the wound so she asperated that. The fluid didn't look ikky and came away quite freely.

The remaining implant was redressed and she took a swab from one of the scabs which is lifting and explained that I am not out of the woods yet, she is still holding her breath for that side because the infection was so close to this that the implants were touching.

I think its ok at the moment because my first big lumpectomy scar is now less pink and is a bit baggy. Nobody else would notice that fact but I can because its my scar.

I was put on another course of antibiotics.

The infection has left fragile skin which is why there is a hole. It will be 12 months before I can consider reconstruction on this side because the tissue has to repair. At that point they will check on the elasticity of it and decide whether or not to chance another implant OR I have tissue from my stomach used for reconstruction.

At the moment I am concentrating on the fact that I am cancer free and I have reduced my risks - that is the biggest bonus of all.... well that and the fact that I am still alive!

The last 6 weeks have been hell and to be honest with you I am looking forward to returning to normal and if that means that I have to wear a prosthesis for a year then so be it.

Saturday, 28 March 2015

Oh Yeah!

Five and a half weeks post surgery and reconstruction and its all gone a bit wrong. 

How do I find the positive in this one then??

Well I can tell you how!!!

I sported a very annoyingly ample bosom pre surgery. Annoying because it got in the way of my very active life!!

Having the mastectomy then immediate reconstruction with a tram flap procedure meant that my size went down considerably.It took me a few weeks to actually get used to the huge change in size.

Last Tuesday, I lost the left implant due to a very nasty infection.

The plus side of this???????

Well, I got to go to nothing in stages so it hasn't been such a huge shock.

I don't like it but the alternatives were not conducive to a long and healthy life. Ticking (or not quite ticking really) time bombs strapped to my chest.

The threat is gone now and I am just left with the aftermath.

My youngest son was visibly shocked and upset by this latest procedure although he puts on a brave face for me. Being autistic he deals with things visually so this will have struck him harder.

My answer to him and to anyone for that matter is this.

My breasts have done what they were designed to do. I miss them but I can live quite happily without them. There are worse things to lose like limbs and my faculties and the prime purpose of all this mess is that I am cancer free at long last.

Today I feel quite good. 

A stark contrast to how I have been feeling since my initial surgery. Shows me just how much of a brave face I seem to have put on.

The stitches are starting to heal and God willing they will be removed on Tuesday. They are not neat stitches because of the infection, they are raggedy so that any fluid can leak through the scar. The scar is quite long and reaches to under my arm and this is because of scaring from previous surgeries and procedures and there is a hole towards the centre of my chest caused by the infected tissue.

At this point in time I don't care what I look like too much. I just want to get on with life and grab each day. I know that when my body and mind are both ready I can go for reconstruction again if I want to and I probably will.

Friday, 27 March 2015

Monica's Gift



I have always had a great fondness for red lips......The brighter the better!

When I first started my battles one of the ways I would actually "arm" myself for the fight was to put on my red lipstick and get out there with a huge smile on my face.

With each round I have waged battle in this way.

This time has been different in so many ways.

I don't seem to have had the emotional strength this time. Maybe it's because its that three times is too much, or maybe it was the trauma of my dog grooming and council fiasco when I was going through diagnosis. I don't know why but I haven't had the strength to put on my makeup and prepare myself for the fight...... (is that a quote?).

My friends and the Alarm family are special to me and have kept me afloat throughout my darkest times. Sometimes my friends don't realise just how much they have helped with their letters, cards, gifts and messages.

I have had so many wonderful and significant gifts which I treasure and look at every day.

Monica is a lovely friend from the other side of the world and yet she went to the time and effort to send me a beautiful gift.

It wasn't an ordinary gift, it was something in particular that she wanted me to have.

Honestly, this friend could have known me all of my life because when I opened it I was amazed to see the most beautiful RED LIPSTICK I have ever seen in my life.

It wasn't just the beauty and relevance of the gift, it was the day it arrived, the timing could not have been better and the underlying message it gave to me was enormous!

It gave me the message LOUD AND CLEAR to put my red lipstick back on, arm myself fully and lets get this healing over and done with. 

This gift has given me the proverbial leg up back into the saddle and rather than swish about half heartedly on the ground, which is what I feel I have been doing this time, I am back in the saddle, armed to the hilt and facing the enermy with my former ferocity.

Thank you Monica!!! It wasn't just a lipstick you gave me!!!

Thursday, 26 March 2015

Always the Trend Setter

I have just got back from my post operative consultation with the surgeon.

I explained to her how I felt so much better since the removal of the left impant and that the right implant felt "more normal" and as I would have expected both to have felt at this stage in recovery.

At this her reply to me was "well...... it's interesting that you should say that....."

When she removed the offending impant, it was intact and unaffected but the tissue surrounding it was basically rotten. The pressure was such that it was pressing onto the right impant which was protecting itself with the formation of a blister.

She said that she had never seen anything like it before! Trust me to be different!

She removed the dead tissue, infection and implant and thoroughly cleaned all through. 

So now its a case of let's see what happens.

Fingers crossed.... please pray that the infection clears and doesn't spread to the other side so that six months down the line I will be looking at just one reconstruction operation instead of going through all of this again.

I don't regret what I have done because I have protected myself against breast cancer. I have tried the first option and so far (hopefully) part of it has failed but it was dealt with quickly and so once the healing process is over I am in a better place for taking the next step.

I think I am just an unlucky kinda gal or one who forever has to be different!

Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Well I Didn't See That Coming!!!!

Went into hospital yesterday morning for an 11am appointment. The target was to change my dressings and VAC pump.

The right breast is healing nicely so the dressing was reapplied. In fact some of the scab had fallen away exposing new skin which is a great sign.

When the pump was removed it showed a piece of "black" poking through the hole where the vac had been. The nurses checked to make sure that it wasn't a piece of foam, thought it could be a scab ....

Alarm bells started to ring!!

Surgeon called.

It was confirmed..... the piece of black showing through was exposed implant.

Sadly, my radiotherapy damaged tissue and the area compromised by limited lymph nodes meant that infection had got in, necrosis had killed both layers of skin and tissue and the only option was to remove as an emergency because of the risk of sepsis.

I had to wait around for 5 hours because I was at the end of the list.

The operation itself only took an hour and the aim was to remove the implant and any infection. Remove the necrosed skin and scar tissue from this and my 2012 op.

I was discharged the same night with a drain fitted and feeling rather wobbly and still in shock.

I will have to wait 6 months for the tissue to heal before I can think about further reconstruction and it will be 12 months before another implant can be introduced.

The options for the future are liposuction which is a new procedure then possibly an implant on top but only if necessary or having part of my tummy tissue used to make a breast.... OR I don't bother!!!!!

So thats my news for now. Not what I expected but at least I will hopefully start to heal alot quicker now.

Tuesday, 24 March 2015

Angelina Jolie - Ooperectomy

Angelina Jolie - Hollywood Actress, beautiful strong mother of six children carrying the breast cancer gene which claimed the lives of both her mother and grandmother.

She has made the brave decision to have an elected mastectomy and reconstruction and now an Ooperectomy in order to reduce the risk of cancer.

I have had both of those surgeries.

I had to push really hard for my Ooperectomy even though part of my breast cancer treatment was to medically shut down my ovaries for 5 years!

Thats one abdominal injection per month for 5 years!!!

It doesn't make me feel less feminine. 

It hasn't been a chore at all. 

Most of the treatments I have received have given me the symtoms on menopause anyway so having the ovaries removed and being plunged into that part of my destiny was no big deal and the fact that I have reduced the risk of cancer alot is a huge reassurance for me.

Had I not had breast cancer three times ...

Had I been told that I carried the gene.....

I hope that I would have had the strength to do what Angelina Jolie has done.

I hope that her open and honest declaration makes this extremely hard decision doable for other women.

Monday, 23 March 2015

5 Weeks Post Surgery

I tried to blog about my VAC machine a few days ago but I just couldn't access it. Not sure what the problem was, maybe it was the links I had put on there but I ended up having to delete it which is a shame because I put alot of effort into that particular post.

When it comes to healing post surgery I have discovered that things can change in a day. This time last week I saw my surgeon and things were going really well but by Thursday my left breast had "exploded" - ok, slight over reaction there. It had a build up of seroma which leaked out of a hole in the wound. There was "slough" which is a medical term for dead and dieing skin (gosh on this cancer journey its amazing what you learn).


This isn't mine by the way!!

So the surgeon debrided the area and decided to fit a VAC machine to help pump away the seroma. If a seroma is left to accumulate it CAN turn into an abcess which apparently isn't a good thing when you have implants.

I couldn't feel anything apart from pushing etc because the nerves in the breast area are damaged. It still didn't stop me from pulling a few faces just at the thought of what she was doing. Yikes!!

The leaking hole is made slightly larger in order to accommodate the foam and machine which is then pressed firmly down and sealed so that its air tight. The seroma is then drained into the machine which is supposed to increase the healing time.

I certainly hope so because I have had too many set backs.

How do I feel 5 weeks post mastectomy and reconstruction?

I feel itchy, sore, swollen. The pain isn't as bad as it was initially and at least it doesn't keep me awake at night but its not comfortable. The added weight of the VAC machine doesn't help along with its FARTING noise!!

I am totally fed up because I didn't expect to be as I am right now, I thought I would be virtually back to normal but for whatever reason be it the infection, the seroma, whatever its been delayed and I think it will be quite some time before I am pain free.

The other thing which shocked me was the size of the black scab on the breast. The right side is covered by a pad and is healing very nicely but the side with the pump attached is covered by a see through dressing. 

Not mine!!!

The radiotherapy damaged skin has died and left behind the scab but as the surgeon debrided the area she checked and could see that the second layer of skin was healthy and when the scab goes it will leave behind healthy skin.

I missed volunteering on the Love Hope Strength Foundation stand at last weeks Mike Peters gig in Central Station, Wrexham. Gutted to say the least! 

I get so frustrated at missing out on life so much by recovering from surgeries and treatment. Lets hope that this is the end of my tussle with cancer.

I do feel that I have been living my life with a monkey on my back.

Lets hope this monkey is well and truly jogging on.

Monday, 16 March 2015

Week 4 Post Surgery

I had my check up at the hospital today and the good news is that my wounds are healing nicely. 

There is a build up of fluid on one side but not enough to aspirate. They have to weigh up the pros and cons of draining the fuid vs getting an infection via a needle hole.

I felt very sick and tense before my appointment. I thought that I was coming down with something but once it was over and done with I felt much better. So nerves it was then.

I am still sore and moving is difficult but I am pushing myself more now in the hope that by next week I will at least be able to drive and perhaps starting to care for my boy again.

There have been times during this surgery that I have wondered why on earth I ever bothered with having a reconstruction and although they feel totally weird I am sure that with time and as the swelling reduces I will get used to it and consider the pain worth it.

Sunday, 15 March 2015

Mothers Day 2015

In line with one of my posts.... today I am thanking my body for giving me two beautiful, gorgeous and loving sons. 

 Joe and Jason with my Guardian Angel Cola

 Rhuddlan Castle before Rhuddlan Rocks 

 From birth my boys always had great fun in the river

 It's hard to ever think that they looked so young

 Harry and his sense of humour

 My favourite photo of Harry and I when he was just a couple of days old

 Joe never ceases to amaze me with his musical talent, a natural! I am so proud of him

 When the boys get along, they get along


 We spent a great deal of time at Erddig Hall and Chirk Castle. We have lots of magical memories of those times.

 Harry has always had a special way with animals

 Watching movies has always been a family thing

 So smart ready for Uncle Nicholas and Aunty Catherines wedding

 Harry always loved to dress up

I love this photo of Joe and I even though he looks kind of shocked

 We had some lovely holidays with our God daughter

 So many happy Christmas's together. Little did we know that when Harry had this pilots jump suit that in future years he would become an Air Cadet

 Whenever Harry dressed up he took the part to heart

 We loved the Llyn Peninsula and Harry in particular liked to be buried in the sand

 We have eaten lots of ice cream over the years in different places 

 We have brought the boys up to have great respect for our war heroes

 Chirk Castle - I loved Joe in those long shorts

 Erddig Hall, Joe had such a lovely smile

 Oswestry Show - Harry would never sit still 


 Me and Joe

 Harry wasnt impressed with Father C

 India day, Harry never quite forgave me for this

 Harry loved horse riding