My Dad

image

My dad is an amazing man.  He supported his family working all the hours he could as a delivery postman. Over the years my dad worked his way up to management and retired Christmas Eve 2015.

My parents would have been together forever and loved eachother as much as the day they met. They weren’t one for PDAs but I never heard either of them say a bad word about the other. My dad said to me just before he retired “When you kids were young me and your mum struggled, now I have everything I have no one to share it with”. I soon reminded him he had 4 children that would be happy to share with him.

It’s times like this that reassured me that I had made the right decision for me. My mum should be here, she should have fulfilled her dream of going to Nashville, she should have seen her daughters get married, enjoyed spending time spoiling her grandchildren but she can’t. My mum didn’t get the chance to reduce her risk but I did.

There is no one like your mum and there have been many times before and after my operation that I have cried for mine. I cried because I missed her, I cried because I wanted her to hold me and tell me everything would be ok, I cried because she gave the choice to live my life without having to worry about cancer.

My dad has filled a massive hole in all our lives, he has continued to be our dad but has also had to listen to all our ups and downs and life’s dramas (and there is certainly plenty of those) that mum normally would.

My dad travelled up and stayed for a few days for my surgery and was there when I was bought back to the ward. When he did go home he rang and text everyday to check how I was. It was 4 days post op when he rang one morning to see how I was and I told him that I had some pain the night before but now felt good.  I then went into detail about how the pain felt like being poked with a red hot needle behind my nipple and when the pain stopped I looked to find that the nipple had gone hard. “This is a good sign Dad” I told him “as it means there is a good blood supply”. My dad shared in my enthusiasm as much as a dad could talking about his daughters nipples at 10am in the morning. I’m sure my mum was up there laughing.

image

Not Quite Playboy

image

I am now 6 weeks post surgery and apart from putting on a few pounds and a few minor aches and pains I feel great And what better way to celebrate then take an exam at work followed by my first run (well fast jog).

Prior to my surgery I trained 5/6 days a week, a combination of boxing at my local boxing club, Wayne Elcocks Boxing Academy and strength, conditioning and mobility classes with by partner and personal trainer, Stu who is owner/director of Art Of Motion Fitness Academy.
I do think that my fitness regime, combined with a healthy diet and vitamins has helped in my recovery. My wounds have healed well and are hardly recognisable and my new breasts continue to take shape (and grow) daily.

The first few days were pretty tough in terms of restricted mobility in my arms and I did take the prescribed codeine and paracetamol every 4 hours as advised. They made me sleep a lot and I found my attention span was shockingly bad, I dozed of many times mid conversation with people or within 5 minutes of watching a film.

The first night my partner helped me to bed I thought to myself, “how long is it going to be like this for?”. The following day my new bras had arrived from M & S and I sat staring at them for 2 hours thinking how amazingly comfortable they looked. As soon as my partner got hone from work I begged him to help me shower so I could put my new bras on – my life had changed – they were heaven. I had purchased a cheaper front fastening sports bra which my surgeon had put in me prior to me coming round after surgery, all I will say is get the best bra and a size bigger, you are living in it 24/7 and want to be as comfortable as possible.

The drains were not all that bad, I had a few occasions where they stopped working and after a couple of trips back to the hospital I was provided with some spares and my partner was shown how to change them, which he did like a pro a few times.

I continued to use the hibiscus shower wash daily and would then apply Vaseline on my incisions and around my drain sites and cover with gauze provided by the hospital. I would then apply Cutagenix to my breasts massaging gently for the first week and once this ran out (I couldn’t justify another £80) used bio oil and upped my massaging to twice a day. This did feel strange at first due to the numbness but I soon got used to it and have regained some feeling in both breasts, although my nipples are still numb.

I had my drains out after 2 weeks, which was slightly uncomfortable for a matter of seconds. I also received my results at my 2 week appointment and the tissue removed came back all clear of any cancer cells. The biggest challenge then was not to do too much since I no longer had the restriction of the drains to stop me.

The first couple of weeks after the drains came out I had more discomfort than before and a feeling like I had water balloons behind my nipples when I walked. This was due to the tissue and nerves being disturbed by the removal of the drains and repairing again. I’m pleased to say 2 weeks on this has subsided and apart from some tightness in my chest muscles causing I’m doing well.

Like I mentioned before, my Surgeon Dr Khalil has always reassured me and answered any questions I have. At my 3 week appointment he actually thought it had been 6 weeks and couldn’t believe how well I was healing and moving after just 3 weeks – I told him I had good genes!!

It was also at this appointment I had my first topless modelling shoot to add to my surgeons portfolio. I remember when I first went to see my Surgeon and he showed me photos of a patient who had a similar procedure, only using muscle taken from her back as opposed to the strattice. I couldn’t even tell she had implants let along had major surgery only 3 months before. I hope my pictures bring the same reassurance to future patients.

I was also able to confirm my size which thankfully was the same size as I had before and once the swelling had gone down (by about 6 weeks) my Surgeon was true to his word and I’m back to my original size – just with a slight lift (always a silver lining).

image.jpg

 

The Future……

It hasn’t all been plain sailing, I have had my moments where I didn’t want to get out of bed, socialise or even let my partner see me new breasts. I snapped at him a few times as he tried to put my hair up for me, shower me and at no point did he snap back, instead he remained patient, telling me how beautiful I looked as well as doing all the cooking and cleaning. It was about 10 days after my surgery that I did finally break down and had a good cry, my partner breathed a sigh of relief that I was actually human.

image

I feel extremely lucky to have my family, friends and partner in my life and each and everyone of them has been there to support me, through texts, phone calls, visits, chocolates, wine, dinners and making me smile and laugh throughout.

I’m looking toward to the future, returning to work and getting back to normality – whatever that is!

I will have another procedure in about 6 months called lipofilling  where fat will be taken from another part of me and transferred to my breasts around the implant to give a more softer feel and a bit more projection on top – well I don’t just want nice breast I want perfect ones!

I also have the option of Pre-implantation genetic diagnosis (PGD), that aims to allow families to avoid passing on an inherited condition to their children. This would entail undergoing in vitro fertilisation (IVF) and the embryos would then be tested for the gene mutation. The success rate for PGD is 20%. I am lucky that my local Women’s Hospital in Birmingham carries out this procedure and offers funding as I know not all areas across the Country do.

I don’t regret my decision, that’s not to say it’s the right decision for everyone but I hope by sharing my story I can bring some comfort and reassurance to others.

There are many internet sites that have helped me, albeit I found these in the days after my surgery, that offer loads of support and it’s always nice to speak with others who have been or are going through the same as you.

A fantastic site I found is http://www.BRCAumbrella.ning.com which you have to register for free and there are a number of support groups from all over the world with people sharing there stories and photos and many meet up in person.

There is also a Facebook Group; Breast Cancer & BRCA+ Surgery UK “Pay It Forward” again where people share there stories, support others and also “pay it forward” with gift boxes for those facing surgery (I wish I’d found this site sooner) and now I am on the road to recovery I look forward to sending my “pay it forward box”.

image