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Breast Reconstruction Options

Posted 12/1/2016

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   Although I know I have been sharing links to some good stuff this week, I also know that I have been including almost daily apologies for the typos and absence of more materials before the links. I was horrified, after posting yesterday's entry, to spot several more typos, and then spent a good half hour trying to get back into the system to correct them. As you may have seen, I was not successful, so they stand there to remind me of my many errors and imperfections. I am grateful to be able to work remotely, but it obviously has its problems.

  Today we took one of our favorite hikes which is challenging, beautiful, and full of sentimental value. In the fall of 1993, I took the final Cytoxan pills at its' summit, thereby completing six months of chemotherapy. Today we both noted that the climbing (of any hike) is more difficult than it was 20 years ago, although in 1993, I suspect I was not feeling my best as we climbed. Today, however, I fell on the way down, and that surely reminded me of my aging athletic skills. I have cleaned the scrapes and iced the various really sore spots, but am sure that I will be very stiff tomorrow. It was worth it.

  And all of that has absolutely nothing to do with the link I want to share today. This is perhaps the best article I have ever seen about the options for breast reconstruction--with honest comments and information. It should be required reading for any woman who is considering this surgery. One of the very hard parts of making this decision is trying to make in the midst of the crisis of a breast cancer diagnosis--we all remember the panic and lack of clear thinking that accompanied those days. Since Angelina Jolie's surgery, there has been a lot written about reconstruction, and but this salient fact is rarely, if ever, mentioned. Not to minimize her thought process in any way, but she, like any women who opts for prophylactic mastectomies, has the advantage of time and no new lethal diagnosis hanging over her.

  This excellent article from The New York Times does not say much about the choice of no reconstruction. One of my big, very big, pet peeves is that this possibility is sometimes barely offered as the surgeon says something like: "You need a mastectomy, but you can have reconstruction at the same time." And that starts the ball rolling, very fast downhill. In addition to making this article required reading, women should also be referred to the excellent website: for lots of information re that option.

  Here is the beginning (I hope, assuming I can make the cut and paste function work, dubious) and then a link:

By almost any measure, Roseann Valletti’s reconstructive breast surgery was a success. Although it was a protracted process, involving some pain and a nightmarish nipple replacement, she is pleased with how she looks.

But she is uncomfortable. All the time. “It feels like I’m wrapped up in duct tape,” said Mrs. Valletti, 54, of the persistent tightness in her chest that many women describe after breast reconstruction.

“They look terrific, to the eye,” added Mrs. Valletti, a teacher who lives in Valley Stream, N.Y., and who learned she had early-stage cancer in both breasts five years ago. “But it’s never going to feel like it’s not pulling or it’s not tight. It took me a while to accept that. This is the new normal.”








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