My name is April Bhattacharya and I’ve created this blog to keep family and friends updated with my journey. I hope that others out there that are facing these same decisions find my blog encouraging and informative.
After losing multiple women in my family, including my mother, to breast cancer, I chose to have genetic testing. I found out in March 2010 that I tested positive for the BRCA2 mutation. This does not mean it causes breast or ovarian cancer, but it leads to an increased risk for its development. I have an 85% lifetime risk of breast cancer and a 40% lifetime risk of ovarian cancer. The general population’s lifetime risk for breast cancer is about 12% and less than 2% for ovarian cancer.
After doing much research, discussing things with my husband, talking with doctors and genetic counselors, I came to the conclusion that a prophylactic (preventative) bilateral mastectomy (removal of both breasts) and reconstruction would be my personal best decision. By having this surgery I reduce my risk of getting breast cancer by 90%. I have also taken on a vegan diet. At 23 years old, I am empowered to take steps to prevent breast and/or ovarian cancer from taking my life early. I am grateful to be a woman with options that could change the future of my family.
Wednesday, December 15, 2010
The surgery went really well. The cancer surgeon said that because I'm young, thin and healthy, the breast tissue separated easily from the skin and muscles which is wonderful. Then the cosmetic surgeon went in and made large incisions in my pectoral muscles to make room for the tissue expanders. The surgery ended up being only about 4 hours! That's great! It took forever for me to wake up. I did not enjoy the recovery room at all. It was very painful and I was fighting to wake up but I couldn't.
I stayed in the hospital until late Monday night because I had some problems figuring out which pain meds would work for me. I threw up several times while I was there. That was sooo painful. I now have an anti nausea med to take right before my pain med so that has helped. The meds are making me very dizzy and tired. I am doing good walking to the bathroom and kitchen but I'm still sleeping a lot. I'm trying to walk enough to prevent blood clots. I think I'm doing good so far. I still have short breaths but I have a little thing I suck into to try to make it to a certain mark. I'm getting a little better at that but still not where the doctor wants me to be.
I had a post-op appt on Tuesday at the cosmetic center. They took off my wrap and said everything looks good. I really started having even more pain when the wrap came off because there was no support and it feels like my chest has two bricks on it. I was able to get a sports bra that zips in the front and that helped a lot. It hurts my armpits but its helping hold up my chest.
The drains are really gross but Sameer has been really great and he drains them for me. I hope to get those out sometime next week. While I was in the hospital my right drain was leaking badly so I was constantly having tons of blood all over me and the bed...which made me queazy. But luckily since my appt earlier today that has stopped and I'm draining much less. The drains are uncomfortable because they just hang from my sides and I have to carry them and hold them out of the way to use the bathroom, etc. The right one has old tape on it with dried up blood so when I move it hurts, but the doctors said just leave it until they remove the drains.
The pain is crazy, but I know it can only get better from here. I'm glad the surgery is behind me. What a relief. For now the doctor said I can "t-rex" it with my arms haha so I am able to feed myself and take sips of water if the glass isn't full.
My throat and back of tongue is really really red and sore from the oxygen tube I had during surgery. My mouth is always so dry, but I'm drinking a lot of water.
When I got out of surgery my collar bone and neck were even numb but I've started gaining some of that back. I have patches that I can't feel but a lot of tingling happening, which is good because thats my nerves trying to grow back.
I have a lot of swelling, especially in my back, but they said it should all be going down over the next couple of weeks.
I can have a sponge bath for now...I cant wait to do that! I need a shower seat though. And then when the drains come out I will be able to take a real shower, but still can't lift my arms up high.
I better get off here before my pain meds really kick in. They knock me out! I think they're already here. Thanks for all the prayers and please continue to pray during my recovery time. Thanks to all who came and visited me at the hospital. That meant a lot to me! And the flowers were really nice to look at in my hospital room : ) I hope to post more often.