Sunday, March 29, 2009

Marking Anniversaries

I have a difficult time marking major events that happen in my new life. My transitional journey sort of morphed from one stage to the next without any real exact timeline. Looking back over my life there were defined elongated steps, from the time I started wearing my mother high heels whenever I could. Passing through using pieces for sexual gratification, then the jump to going out fully dressed, scared as all shit; then treading the mine field of being Sarah whenever I could squeeze in some time being alone with myself. I would have to say that in March of ’03 when my ex filed for divorce and I moved out by myself, that is my the beginning of my real-life test for Sarah.

Living my life the way I needed to, without outside pressures, was just the freedom I needed to find the real Sarah that I had been trying to hide behind my defensive wall of shame and fear. Remembering important dates has always been difficult for me for some odd reason, but it is easier to remember the time line of my history with breast cancer. Beginning with June 04 when I took my first pill aldactone which would block the testosterone flowing through my body. And then adding the estrogen patch the next month; my body responded quite nicely to the hormone therapy and I was beginning to get very good breast development for the 13 months I used the HRT. When in late August when I noticed a small lump in my right breast and I had a biopsy performed early September 05. With a diagnosis of “invasive ductal breast cancer” I underwent a modified mastectomy in December 05; and 6 weeks of recovery. This was a major anniversary for me!

I talked to two different surgeons about doing breast reconstruction, the first one bowed out because she wasn’t skilled or comfortable doing breast surgery on a male body. The second surgeon was eager to do whatever he thought he could be away with; but because he wouldn’t answer Kay directed medical questions she overrode my eagerness and we walked away. Only after the two years I lived with my breast prosthesis, size “DD” and was eager to resume the search for someone to perform reconstruction did I find Dr. B. Mast.

My initial appointment with Dr. Mast was on February 27, ’08, when we discussed my options and his expectation of what he could offer; we scheduled my first surgery for May 13th, ’08 when he implanted the breast expander and two supporting tissue flaps to support the final implants. With an initial period for healing and then beginning the 10 weekly expansion appointments and ending with a healing time period; it wasn’t’ until September 10, ’08 that the silicone implants were used to replace the tissue expander and for my left breast, so she wouldn’t be left out. So at my first appointment with Dr. Mast, I had gone from having a concave area left by the mastectomy and a good size small “B” breast on the right side to having that same breast on the right with a tissue expander filled with 760CC of saline, and a very unbalanced chest profile after 10 weeks of expansions. When in September, '08, I had a 700 cc silicone implant in my right breast and a 450 cc implant in my left breast; for a quite nice profile; but not the same results if I had had just the breast implants to begin with; and not having had to deal with the breast cancer.

So here I am just 4 days post-op from having had my nipple reconstructed on the 25th of March, ‘09; his initial plan was to create the nipple using additional tissue from another site, but he cut out most of the scar tissue and used sub-tissue from that area to create my nipple. The plan now it to let it heal for 6 months and return to tattoo the aureole; having discussed several options the nurse told us of a woman who had hearts tattooed on her breasts; or maybe a cherry tattoo; who knows my options are endless. Looking back I am so thankful that I found Dr. Mast to do my reconstruction, because he took his time, considered his options and waited patiently for my body to heal between surgeries. With a final appointment sometime in August to do the tattoo, it will be 4 years from finding the small cancerous lump to putting the cherry on the top of my reconstructed breast.

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