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.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Surgery

I am having a Prophylactic Bilateral Mastectomy (PBM) and Reconstruction Surgery next week on December 10th. It will take 6 to 8 hours to complete. I will be in the hospital anywhere from 2 or more days. I am having immediate reconstruction with tissue expanders and will not be sparing my nipples and areolae. The tissue expanders will go behind my pectoral muscles. Tissue expansion is a surgical technique to stretch my own healthy tissue and create new skin to provide coverage for a breast implant. The entire process from surgery to complete reconstruction will take up to 1 year.

During the procedure, the chief breast surgeon will do the mastectomy and then my cosmetic surgeon will come in and place the tissue expanders and AlloDerm. For at least 8 weeks after my surgery I will not be able to do any rigorous activity, push, pull, or lift more than 5 to 10 pounds. I will go back on this restriction later next year when I have my tissue expanders removed and the implants put in. 

A brief overview of the next year:
  • Dec. 10th-PBM and Reconstruction with tissue expanders. I will also have AlloDerm placed in my chest at this time. 
  • I will have drain tubes anywhere from 1-3 weeks.
  • After the drains are removed, I can begin to go as often as I can handle the pain to fill my tissue expanders with saline. I am hoping to do this once a week.
  • When the desired size is reached, I will wait 2-4 months to allow the skin and everything to finish stretching and heal.
  • Next, my cosmetic surgeon will remove the tissue expanders and put in my implants behind the pectoral muscles. This will be an outpatient procedure.
  • 6-8 weeks later I can begin the areola and nipple reconstruction. This will approximately take 6 weeks to complete.
  • This time next year I will be finished with everything!
Please be praying for peace and calmness as the surgery is coming up fast! This is a very serious and painful procedure. Pray against all the risks and complications that go along with a major surgery.

8 comments:

Amy said...

April, you are so inspiring to me. Our mothers would be so proud! I don't know if I could have started this process the way that you have. But now that you've done most of the leg work it has made it so much easier for us to continue the research process for ourselves. Dustin and I have started the discussion (he actually started it and is on board), now I just need to put things into action. Of course I would start with the ovaries since I'm not in need of those any more unlike you, LoL. I will continue to pray for your strength and immediate recovery. I will come help you as I can when you need it, just let me know what kind of schedule you need so I can try to work it out. Luv ya, Amy

Anonymous said...

April, we will be praying for you that God will provide peace, calm and strength during this new journey in your life. You are an amazing woman and we love you dearly. We will also be praying for Sameer, James and CD as they walk beside you.

God bless and guide you. Love, Cindy De La Rosa

D'Lynda said...

April and Sameer,

We will be praying! We do not know what this journey holds for you, but we know God and He knows it all! We are asking Him for strength - physically and emotionally for you both; for the doctors as they treat you to have God's hands as they do this surgery; for assurance and peace that He is leading.
We will keep up with the blog, but you know we are only a phone call away if you need us. love, Jeff and D'Lynda

Anonymous said...

I will be praying for a speedy recovery and for extra strength. Thanks for keeping me updated so I know what to pray for you. Love you and God bless. - Jazz

Karis Guerrero said...

April, I can't imagine the emotions you've been going through. I'm blown away by your courage and strength to make this decision. We're praying that the Lord will give you the emotional stamina and perseverance your going to need and that he will guide your doctors every step. We're praying for you!
Love,
Karis, Josh, and baby girl Guerrero

Nikki said...

April, I work with Pam...please know that you will be in my prayers daily. What a strong woman you are! Blessings and speedy healing for you. Praising God for a supportive husband as well.

Anonymous said...

April, we are praying for you today and for your caregivers. Peace and calm for you and your family. Lots of love to you. Cindy and Chris De La Rosa

Anonymous said...

April,

I am thinking of you and James today as I remember your sweet mother and my friend Connie. May God give you extra special blessing this evening of Christmas. I WILL be praying for you in your continued recovery. You are a brave young lady April!
Love to you,
Joan