About ten weeks after I’d had the skin sparing mastectomy and two weeks after I had returned to school, I wrote to Mr X. I told him I was recovering well, had gone back to work on a phased return and resumed fitness classes so could I have an appointment please to discuss a permanent reconstruction. A little impatient perhaps given how the NHS had, according to the BBC and other media, almost collapsed that winter. However, my silicon implant or “Cannonball” felt hard and heavy in my chest and whilst I wasn’t quite listing it wasn’t far off and massaging it whilst teaching was not a good look or a real option.
In the Spring of 2018 BBC 2 had produced and put on a series of programmes called Surgeons: at the edge of life It was extraordinary for a number of reasons not least the work carried out by a lead consultant and her team of onco-plastic surgeons in a hospital in Birmingham.
Part of the series focused on a patient who’d been diagnosed with breast cancer in both boobs. She was going to have a double mastectomy with immediate reconstruction using her own material from her tummy. It was a masterclass in plumbing using the deep inferior epigastric artery peforator – blood vessels which are tiny – only 1-3mm wide. This web site can explain in much more detail than I can Microsurgeon The patient had a different type of cancer to mine, was a bit younger and a different shape, however, it made me reassess my initial reluctance to have more surgery, especially as the bionic boob had “settled” into a cannonball. The lead consultant had had breast cancer herself and demonstrated a great understanding of how important looking and feeling good was for the self esteem of breast cancer patients.
Tip: Not all consultants have to have had the same disease as you – frequently, it is much better if they haven’t (especially if it is a male consultant… although some men do get breast cancer).