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, January 27, 2011

The Past 6 Weeks-Graphic Content

Warning: this post is very long : )

Over the past couple of weeks I've been working on this post. I was reading through everything and I realized I never wrote about something pretty important that happened after surgery. When I was being transferred from recovery to my room the nurses/techs pulled on my right arm to move me from the stretcher to my hospital room bed. Who pulls on someone's arm that just had surgery on their chest!? I was barely alert so I couldn't speak up. I could just moan as they were pushing me around telling me to scoot myself to the other bed. haha yeah right, scoot myself? I just had come out of surgery and felt like I was caught under a train. It was the craziest pain I have ever felt in my life. So when I couldn't move myself they pulled my right arm to move me over to the bed. I remember the pain of that and screaming pretty loud. 

That resulted in my right tissue expander being turned. The sutures ripped from the inside and the tissue expander turned out towards my side. When this happened my drain site was also torn and caused me to drain mainly outside of the tube. That was disgusting. I had loads and loads of gauze and tape on my right side drain site and it just kept flooding blood. My gown and bed were soaked in blood over and over. And if you know me, I can't handle the smallest amount of blood! A paper cut and I hit the floor passed out haha So this was pretty crazy for me. Luckily the morphine drip helped. I pressed that button every couple of minutes when the green light turned on! That button was my best friend. 

The good thing about all of this is that it didn't mess anything up for my reconstruction. The skin will expand just fine. It's just very awkward looking because my left tissue expander is sitting up pretty high and kind of a "u" shape (how it's suppose to be)...and my right tissue expander sits lower since it turned and looks more like a melon. 

The right side has been in more pain this entire time. I'm right handed and I've used my left hand/arm more than my right because of this. As I expand bigger the right side is annoying because my arm can't go all the way down. It's pulling on where the drain was so it's more tender there than the left side. 

These tissue expanders are so hard. They feel like hard super balls under my skin. Since the right one is turned and goes all the way to under my arm its hard to have a good reach. I can't really reach to the left with my right arm because I run into the tissue expander. A normal boob just smashes out of the way...not these hard things! 

I've started sleeping all the way down in the bed and sometimes I wake up to me turned on my side. Ouch! The left side is okay...it hurts...but I can kind of stand it to sleep on my side for a minute to relieve my back. But my right side...no way. I've woken up several times to being turned on my right side and it hurts so bad. All because that tissue expander got turned. But hey, at least nothing for reconstruction is messed up. When I have my next surgery to swap out these tissue expanders for my implants, the surgeon will go in and make everything great. Reconstruction with tissue expanders is so weird. They look crazy. They feel so weird. But its nice knowing the final stage will look nothing like this. Everything will look and feel much better! They will be more like normal breasts.

Over the past couple of weeks I've been gradually increasing my movement and strength. I can reach all the way up in the air now. I can go out to the sides pretty good...that pulls on the top of my chest and hurts though. I practice moving my arms around in the shower so the hot water helps loosen my muscles and relieve some pain. I started helping Sameer with laundry...he still moves the wet clothes to the dryer. I've been opening most bottles/containers on my own. I picked up Audrina a few times...that hurt haha but I'm glad to be building my strength. At 8 weeks I'll be "free" of all the restrictions, but I have to take it slow and work myself back up. I haven't taken motrin or anything for 2 weeks!! It definitely still hurts but it's good to be off the meds. I guess this is just pain I have to deal with for a while. Like I said before, sneezing hurts really bad! I thought I might get use to it...or it get better...but as I expand sneezing hurts even more! My skin is super tight and my pectoral muscles are stretching so the movement of my chest clinching hurts so bad.

Several days before my expansion on January 18th I felt something sharp coming out of the middle of my right incision. Sameer thought maybe I ran into something and didn't feel it and it got stuck in me hahahaha that could totally happen to me! I have no feeling in that area. But it was a suture coming out. All the sutures were inside of me and dissolvable, but I guess this little guy didn't make it. It was pretty annoying for a few days. At my expansion appointment on the 18th they pulled it out a little more and cut it off. No more has come out so that's good : ) This was no biggie...just kind of weird. I hate stitches so I'm glad the rest of them were inside away from my sight!

I promised myself I would hold nothing back in sharing my journey. I want to be an example for those going through this or considering going through this. I know before my surgery I searched and searched the Internet for pictures, videos, blogs, anything. I wanted to be as prepared as possible. I needed to see what others had been through in order to make my final decision to go forward with a PBM. It's very hard to find a lot out there. Especially any examples of younger women doing this. I've been told young women do it all the time, but it's hard to find people that blog and are open about it. I hope that by me being completely open with my entire journey, others will be encouraged.

Warning: some of the following photos and videos contain images of my nude torso after a PBM. These images are not sexual in nature and are for informational purposes only.

This was the first room I went to at 6am to change into my gown, get my iv, etc.
Pam and Paula with me before the surgery. They helped out my mom a lot during her battle with breast cancer. It was so great to see them before I went under. 12-10-10
In a previous post I wrote about how in this prep room I was freaking out. I told the nurses I wanted to cancel the surgery and go home. One nurse told the other, "go get something to relax her." This picture was taken right after they shot some feel good meds in my iv. I immediately felt like I just drank a huge margarita haha
Sameer took this photo of me, my dad, my brother and Pam before I was moved to the operating room.
First picture of me in my hospital room after the surgery. My mother-in-law is by my side : )  It took me 3 hours to wake up in recovery before they moved me to my room.
Sameer trying to wake me up haha I don't remember this. I had a hard time staying awake. 
This was the most painful day of my life. Thank goodness for those pain killers!
James and Mallory putting my flowers in some water. Tim, Jaya and Neela brought me those : )
This is me trying to eat, but I kept falling asleep. My brother, James, brought me some french fries...apparently I asked for them hahaha I don't remember that either! 12-11-10
This is the first time I remember lifting my head up and seeing Sameer take my photo. The doctor came in to look at my right drain that was leaking everywhere.
This is me trying to stay up while the doctor and nurse got new gauze and tape for my side. All I wanted to do was go back to sleep. In this moment I remember looking down at my chest for the first time post-op and thinking, "well this doesn't look as bad as I thought it was going to be." (except for the blood of course...I didn't like that too much)
Close up on the leak...ewwww...and they never cleaned me up...they just kept putting more gauze and tape on it. 
Plugged the drain site with gauze. My right incision has blood coming through because when they pulled my arm to move me to my bed from recovery, the tissue expander turned and it pulled my incision site open a little bit and it bled. That is glued on medical tape over it.
All patched up for the moment! The nurses had to redo the dressing a lot while i was there. I had to keep getting my sheets changed and a new gown because of the blood. Yuck.
My left side. All pretty and clean. The drain site exactly how it should be, and my left "boob" has nice clean gauze.
Here I am...I fell back to sleep while I was attempting to eat. I could not stay awake for anything!
The doctors made me walk down the hall before I could even think about going home. I was not happy about that haha It hurt so bad! I took the smallest, slowest steps. I had family and friends cheering me on : )
12-12-10
This is me right after my walk. I was so happy to be back in that bed!
My wonderful husband Sameer helping me eat some food. I don't remember taking this photo either...
Big surprise! My right drain site is overflowing again. Time for new gauze. 
My friend Mel waiting to help take me home. She pulled my hair up for me. That was nice : ) It was weird not being able to come close to touching my head. That green thing is a napkin. I couldn't stay awake long enough to eat my dinner. 12-13-10
James grabbing my flowers to take to my house. I'm finally awake for a moment to get some food in before I go home.
My best friend Biz visiting me the day after I got home from the hospital. I am sleeping in the music room on the futon. As I wrote about in a previous post, I wasn't able to get in my bed because it was too tall. 12-14-10
First day I made it to the living room to enjoy some movies! It hurt moving around the house, but I didn't want a blood clot! Sameer was good at making sure I walked around enough. There's Audrina hanging out with me. 12-15-10
Audrina isn't normally allowed on the beds, but for these first few weeks I needed her! She would come greet me every morning and we would go back to sleep for a while : ) 12-16-10
This is Pam helping take my hair out of the ponytail hahaha When Mel pulled my hair up on the 13th, it stayed that way until the 16th so it got pretty ratty!
We couldn't stop laughing at my ridiculous hair! I was so thankful that Pam came over to wash my hair. It was the first time since the morning of the 10th before surgery!
1 week post-op. There was a lot of swelling all over my torso. Even my thighs were swollen from the heparin shots. The dots on my lower left side are also marks from the heparin shots. The surgeon was able to fill my expanders to 125 cc so it wouldn't take me as long to expand to the final amount. You can see how awkward these things are! My right one is turned out to the side and you can see dents here and there (especially on the bottom of the left one). As they expand the dents fill out some. 12-17-10
1 week post-op left side. This is the drain site that got wet when washing my hair. Sameer changed the Tegaderm and thank goodness there was no infection or problem! 
1 week post-op right side. In my post "Movie Night!" I wrote about all the dried blood on my right side. When it was leaking in the hospital they kept bandaging me back up and leaving the blood. This picture was taken one day after Sameer helped peel up some of the Tegaderm and cut it off. The bandage was going almost all the way down to my hips. It was pretty painful. Once we cut it off and cleaned it up, I could move around better and this is what I was left with.
1 week post-op. Here are my lovely drains I had to carry around until December 21st.
Audrina was always by my side : ) Like I wrote about before, it was hard for me to sleep in a normal position (and still is). The only way I could sleep at this point was sitting up. A lot of times I would gradually slide down during the night and end up like the photo above. Man, my neck hurt...but it was better than lying flat and my chest being in more pain. 12-20-10
This was the first day I got out of my hospital gown and into a button up sleep shirt!! Audrina giving me a high five : )  And you can see my drains coming out the bottom of my shirt. The drains were so annoying.
12-20-10
So this is pretty sick. Over the week and a half I watched a piece of my insides slowly make its way down the drain tube. If you see the white part inside the drain pouch on the top of this picture...that is the little tube that everything goes through to get into this pouch...there is a stringy red chunk...that's it! Something that came from inside me and went through the tube haha grossed me out pretty bad!

video

Video of my drains being removed on 12-21-10!! I wrote about this a little bit on my post, "Drains Free!!!!" First, the physician assistant had to remove the tape and Tegaderm that was covering the drain sites. This was the most painful part...and took the longest. I didn't cut the video down for those that want to see that process. After all of that was removed, there was one suture to be cut on the outside that was holding the drain in place. Then the PA got a piece of gauze to put under the drain tube to pull it out. She told me to take a deep breath in (only for a distraction) and then she pulled it right out! It didn't hurt at all. Just felt pretty weird on the inside. You can see the drain moving from under my skin on the outer ring of my tissue expander. It kind of looks like a worm or something sliding by real quick. In the video, you'll see my right side tube came from the bottom right and moved counterclockwise until completely out. You'll see my left side tube came from the top left, went all the way around, and then a bulge happens near my armpit as she pulls (watch for it!)...this is where the tube was coiled up inside of me...you can see how she has to pull a little longer until its all out...and when the last bit comes out the bulge goes completely flat. I was swollen and bruised there (the top left near my armpit) since I got out of surgery...now we know it was the drain tube coiled up in that spot. You'll see that I had a painful reaction for a moment when the left side tube came out...it wasn't really hurting me on the inside...what hurt was the actual hole the tube was coming out of because that skin was being pulled on. But I was so glad to get those drain tubes out of me! Lastly, the PA put some Bacitracin ointment on each drain site and patched me up with gauze and tape. I continued to drain a little bit for a few days so I had to change the gauze out at home and kept using the Bacitracin. 
After the drains were removed I had gauze taped over the holes because I was still draining a little bit...everyone does. This is a couple days later and I switched to a big sports band-aid since the blood had slowed. You can see a little bit of my armpit hair ewww haha at this point I still couldn't raise my arms up high enough to shave. 12-23-10
Right side view
Audrina waking me up on Christmas Eve! This was my favorite part of each day. 12-24-10
We ordered a Christmas ornament with Audrina's picture on it. It wasn't suppose to come until January 3rd and it arrived early. I was so happy. I felt pretty good this day.
Some of our family came to visit and open presents on Christmas Eve : )
This is Christmas Eve night. I showered and was able to wash my own hair. It was hard to do...I had to bend my head down to meet my hands since I didn't have a good reach yet. I couldn't pick up Audrina at this point so I taught her to stand so I could love on her.
Christmas morning!! My silly girl waking me up : ) And as you can see, I'm still sleeping on the futon. Sameer had a pallet on the ground so he didn't hurt me when he moved around at night. 12-25-10
Since I was a little girl my family has gone to Temple House of Lee for Christmas lunch. I  didn't want to miss this year! Sameer drove really carefully and I rode in the back seat so I didn't have to wear a seat belt. Luckily I had a dress I could pull up from my feet so I could wear regular clothes. The only button ups I had at this point were pj's haha This was my first trip out of the house other than my post-op appointment the day after I went home from the hospital. It took a lot out of me to do this. I was still super fatigued. From left to right: James (my brother), me, Sameer and my dad.
The glued on medical was suppose to stay on until it fell off on it's own. Well mine was peeling up on the ends a bit but not at all anywhere else. There was so much dried blood I didn't think they would ever fall off! This picture is of my right side. Remember when they pulled on me in the hospital it caused the incision site to bleed a good amount. Well this dried blood under the tape was so uncomfortable. It would pull when I moved. Ouch. And when the soap ran down over it in the shower I could feel something burning like an open wound. I couldn't take it anymore and decided to remove the tape on my own! My follow up with my cosmetic surgeon was going two days later but I just couldn't wait any longer.  So I got wet q-tips and rubbed gently on and under the tape in small sections. I gradually pulled it up and cut it away as I could. This photo is taken after I got the entire top part off and one layer off. 12-26-10
This was hours later when I got all the tape off that I could. The two end pieces were stuck on so good...but I didn't mind leaving them until my appointment because the dried blood underneath wasn't bad there. When I got it to this stage I saw a tiny tiny open part...and that was exactly where I felt soap burning me in the shower! The dried blood was deep down in the incision so it wasn't allowing the incision to close up in that one tiny spot. 
I was pretty nervous that I had taken the tape off on my own when I was told to let them fall off in time...but man it felt so much better not having that dried blood pulling on my incision site! The left side tape didn't really bother me. 
Me and Sameer were nervous about that one part being a little open...and the fact that I took the tape off early haha so we put a square of gauze on and taped me up to sleep in. This made me feel better because without anything over it, it felt like an open cut...even though it wasn't except for the tiny spot.
This was the first picture we got of my drain site with no band-aid. It had stopped draining and started to close up. You can't really tell in the pictures, but both drain sites cave in. The surgeon said they should smooth out over time. The holes are smaller than the drain tubes...thank goodness. 12-27-10
Right side view
I had my follow up appointment with my cosmetic surgeon on December 28th. He said it was fine that I had removed the tape on my right side (whew) and that when I got home I could take off the remaining tape. It was glued on so he said to take it off in the shower, but i was having a hard time so I used wet q-tips again since that had worked out the other day. 12-30-10
It was a slow process of holding a wet rag over each incision, rubbing wet q-tips across small sections to loosen the glue, pulling gently, and trimming long pieces of tape off with medical scissors. This photo was taken after I got the top layer off my left side.
All the tape is gone!! This is the first photo of my chest with no bandages or anything. I was pretty nervous to see the incision sites. I was told beforehand by both surgeons that the incision sites would be lumpy and look like a drawstring bag that was pulled shut...and they sure did. This moment of seeing myself was a reality check. I don't do well with cuts or anything so it was a little hard for me. And I finally got to see how long the incisions were. 
This is a close up on my left side. The reason this is wrinkled, lumpy and sticking out is because I was actually open much larger during surgery. They pulled the incision site together and tucked in the extra to make the scar as short as possible. They will cut back through this for the next surgery to remove these tissue expanders and put in the implants. When the nipple and areola reconstruction happens, there should be very little of this scar sticking out. 
This is my right side. It's not as wrinkled...just has lumps on both ends of the incision site.  When the tissue expander turned (you can see it poking all the way out to my arm) the incision site was pulled and it made it smooth out more. This is the side that had all that dried blood and I removed the glued medical tape early. It was much easier for me to look at than the left side! But I knew everything would smooth out over time.
New Year's Eve!! I felt really good this night. Me and Sameer stayed at home together and made tostadas, drank a Virgil's Root Beer, and watched Dick Clark's New Year's Eve. It was so great! Usually we are traveling or apart on this day, so it was nice to be together at our home : ) 12-31-10
Two days after all the tape was removed. 01-01-11
I was allowed to start using scar removal gel this day. My cosmetic surgeon told me something useful about scar removal products. You need one that has the active ingredient of silicone. Mederma use to have silicone as the active ingredient, but recently they have taken it out of all their products because silicone is more expensive. Mederma continues to sell all their products for the same price as they did when it had silicone in it! So I'm using Scarguard. I've seen great results! As you'll notice in further photos. 01-01-11
This was one of the worse days ever. This was the height of my drug withdrawal from my pain meds that I wrote about in some of my posts. This photo was taken after long hours of pacing, crying, having major anxiety...I fell asleep for a few minutes. Literally a few minutes. Then I was back up feeling terrible. The next day was Monday and that's when we were able to call the doctor and we got the withdrawal under control. I never want to go through that again! 01-02-11
The was the first night I had enough strength to walk up the step stool and get into our bed. I had been on the futon since I got home from the hospital and Sameer had been on the floor. We gathered up random blankets and pillows to make two separate sets of bedding so that when Sameer moved around in his sleep it wouldn't pull on me. Getting in our tall bed was a big step forward for me! I had to use the stool though because at this point I was not able to push myself up or around with my arms. 01-03-11
Here I am getting ready to go to my first expansion. Sameer bought me this button up dress and I was feeling pretty good. It was nice to put on some make up and get out of the house for a bit...even if it was to an appointment. 01-04-11
This is right after my first expansion. The yellow coloring is from the cleaning stuff they use before putting the needle in. Then I leave with two small round band-aids where the needle was. Like I said before, I'm only doing 25 cc at a time. The slower you go, the easier it is and the better outcome you get. This day I went from 125 cc to 150 cc. The thing I'm holding in my right hand is what's inside me! That's a tissue expander. You can see how it creases in my hand...that's what it does inside of me even with some saline in it. The silver round part is where the needle goes in to fill the expander with saline at each appointment. That is also the part that they find using a magnetic tool so know where to go in at. In my post, "It's a Beautiful Day!" I wrote about this first expansion.
This is an amazing sunset that lifted my spirits! Thank you God! I've had a lot of sad feeling days because it's been so cold and dreary out. But on this day the weather was pretty and one of my best friends Brittany came and visited for a few hours : )  The day ended with this. Absolutely beautiful. 01-07-11
Me and Audrina sitting on the couch enjoying the sunset : )
Just before my 2nd expansion. You can really see how the scars are smoothing out! 01-11-11
After my 2nd expansion going from 150 cc to 175 cc.
Right side view. You can see how my drain site scar is still caved in.
Left side view. You can see the lump at the end of my scar, but it's gradually smoothing out.
Taking it easy...sore from expanding the day before. 01-12-11
I was feeling good this day. The weather was nice. Audrina got her haircut and we all went out for a walk. I was able to move around better, and as you can see I'm in the floor with Audrina. It hurts when she touches my chest, but I'm glad to be increasing my activity and get some energy back. 01-17-11
Just before my 3rd expansion on 01-18-11
Right side view before my 3rd expansion. That bump poking out on the side is the tissue expander creased. It hurts.
Left side view before my 3rd expansion
After my 3rd expansion going from 175 cc to 200 cc.
Right side view after 3rd expansion. Very slight change since its such a small amount of saline each time.
Left side view after 3rd expansion
Just before my 4th expansion on 01-25-11 Look at how much my scars have smoothed out!! Yay!! : )
Right side view before 4th expansion. Drain site scar is still caved in, but the incision site scar is very smooth.
Left side view before 4th expansion. The lump on the end of my incision site scar has gone down so much! It will continue to smooth out.
This is what it looks like to expand. I can't feel that needle because I haven't regained sensation in that area yet. But I can feel weird pressure and sometimes stinging/tingling inside of me.
video
Video of my 4th expansion. First, the physician assistant uses her little magnetic tool to find the tissue expander's port. Then she marks the spot with a blue pen. Next, she cleans the areas with iodine tincture/betadine. After that it's time for the needle to go in! Then she gently pushes 25 cc of saline through the syringe that goes down the tube to the needle and into the port of my tissue expander. This particular time when she removed the needle, blood was running out and dripping down my chest. This normally doesn't happen, but when the needle went in this time I felt like it went "bloop bloop". The PA said maybe she hit a blood vessel. I don't do good with blood, but this was funny because I can't feel the outside where the blood is dripping down...but I felt something "blooping" inside of me haha
After my 4th expansion going from 200 cc to 225 cc. That red line on my ride side is from the blood running down when the needle came out.
Right side view after my 4th expansion. It's hard to see in this picture, but that corner that was poking me is still there. It's not as painful anymore because the expander is getting fuller so the creases are filling out. 
Left side view after my 4th expansion. Like I said, it's a gradual increase, but after this expansion you can notice how it's beginning to get fuller on the top. This will allow that skin on the top of my chest to have more of a soft and natural slope with the implant rather than a harsh, round bulge.

I'm so thankful for the advance technology we have today and the fact that I was able to have a PBM. I'm so happy to be completely open and share my journey through this time. I hope that my blog encourages other women out there to be proactive about their breast health. After I found out I was BRCA2 positive I went through some of my mom's old things. I came across a stack of note cards she had written Bible verses on during her battle with breast cancer. The card below is the one I've been reading over and over since I got my test results back in March 2010. This card has been my encouragement through my surgery and my ongoing recovery. It's comforting to see her handwriting and to have a reminder of God's love.


18 comments:

Amy said...

Wow! This has been an amazing post. I can see why it took so long to work on. I know this is really going to help anyone who needs or decides voluntarily to go thru this. Your openness is encouraging and your strength inspiring.

I'll admit seeing Connie's handwriting and reading that card did bring tears to my eyes. Made me think of one of the last few times I took Mom to church when she could still get around, standing next to her while she sang "Healer" with all her heart. I was balling my eyes out. I still can barely make it thru that song without tears and have yet to be able to lead it all the way thru any more. Just one more thing Dustin helps me with.

Hang in there Girlie, you're doing great! Just look at how far you've come already. The worst of it is over now. I'll be smooth sailing from here on out.

Luv Ya

Amy

Shelly said...

You are simply amazing and beautiful in every way. This shows your inner strength and courage. Thanks for sharing so candidly, this will allow others to see your journey in full light. I love you xoxo
The scripture did brings tears to my eyes as well, I know she is in heaven watching over you and is so proud of you.

dannielle said...

Thank you so much for your posts!!! I am having pbm on Feb 24 because of my family history. I am hoping not to have the expanders because I had breast augmentation 11 yrs ago and the surgeon said we might be able to just plop new implants in. Some of your pics made me a bit queezy but it also enlightened me to what I am about to endure. Thanks again!
Dannielle

April Bhattacharya said...

Dannielle,

You are such a great reminder of why I'm keeping this blog! Thank you : ) That is awesome that you might not have to have the tissue expanders! You get to skip the "frankenboobs" stage haha Good luck with your surgery on the 24th! I'm hoping to have a "contact me" link up in the next couple of days. Feel free to write me anytime.

-April

April Bhattacharya said...

Amy and Shelly,

Thank you both so much for your continued encouragement through all of this. I really appreciate it. It's nice to have family cheering me on : )

I love you both very much!

-April

Jenn said...

I just now found your blog and I'm so grateful that I did. I was diagnosed with DCIS Stage 0 in December and had a lumpectomy on January 10th. I had the blood drawn for genetic testing on January 4th and we were waiting for the test results before making any further plans. I tested positive for BRCA II. My mom died at the age of 43 from breast cancer. I'm only 31. I will be having PBM in June.

Thank you so much for posting these pictures and allowing me and others to know what is to come. I will continue reading, but I just wanted you to know that this post has been so very helpful to me.

You can find me on my two blogs: http://beamerjk.wordpress.com and http://beamerjk.blogspot.com

Shelley said...

I was reading your story and have some questions I hope you don't mind answering. I just tested positive for BRCA 1. Mother had BC twice, at age 45 & 50, still living at age 60. Is the chest expander something they use to expand the skin and tissues or is that going to stay in to be the new breast? Do they put you to sleep each time they add to the expanders? I am about your size from what your pics look like, 5'2", 96#, 32A at best right before my period. Did you opt for the ovary removal too? And how long did it take from the time you had your results until you had surgery? I feel like a ticking time bomb with anxiety over this. Any advice is greatly appreciated!

April Bhattacharya said...

Hey Shelley,

The breast tissue expanders are temporary and are only there to stretch the skin and muscles for the implant to eventually go in. They do not put you to sleep for the expansions. There is little to no pain during the process. It's super quick too..I have a video posted of my 4th expansion happening in this post ("The Past 6 Weeks-Graphic Content") you can watch to see what it's like.

I did not have my ovaries removed because I'm 24 years old and have not had kids yet. I will have them removed once I'm done having kids. Most likely around the age of 35. I tested positive for BRCA2 in March 2010 and I had my PBM on December 10, 2010. The timing just worked out for me to go ahead and do it right away, so I did. And I was having small lumps come up that I was having to go get checked out and that was stressful so the sooner the better for me. I didn't want to mess with anymore ultrasounds/biopsies/etc.

Have you meet with a geneticist and/or a genetic counselor yet? I would suggest doing that if you have tested positive for BRCA1 so that you can have more guidance in your decision making process. You can email me anytime by clicking on the "contact me" button on the right side of my blog page. I wish you the best!!

-April Bhattacharya

nischal mishra said...

congrats

Theodore Stephens said...

Your still beautiful BTW

helen said...

hi, my name is helen and im 33. my dad had breast cancer and then we found out that i had brac2 also. ive been trawling the sites for info as i have got to have the exact same op as you !! your blog was very informative and i think you should pat yourself on the back for doing it x

Anonymous said...

Thank you very much for having this blog. I think it helps many women who have to go through all this process and don't have a clue of waht it looks like ans are also scared to the unkown. Please, could you post pictures of your final results with implants? Thank you for being so supportive and good hearted woman. Hugs!XX (Anais R.)

Kat Pip said...

I also want to add my thank you for posting your experience. I am getting ready to have mastectomy and reconstruction with implants next week.
Now that it has been several years since you had this done......may I ask if you are happy with the final results of the reconstruction?
Do they eventually start to feel like a part of you?
I would love it if you would be kind enough to post a pic as to how they look now.
It helps so much to know what to expect when it's all said and done!
Once again....thanks for sharing your experience.

carla brashers said...

Thank you for sharing. I have a much better idea of what is ahead of me.

Anonymous said...

I wanted to thank you for sharing your experience in this blog. I've been diagnosed with bc and have had a DMX. I'm having breasts reconstruction with expanders and anatomical silicone implants. I'd appreciate you could share the final step of reconstruction with implants (type of implants, pictures of the final result, nipple/areaola reconstruction,...) That would help me to have an idea about it. Once again, many thanks for this blog.

Anonymous said...

Hi,
I have chek2 gene mutation. My mom was 45 when she got cancer. I just turned 45 and I have cancer and found that gene mutation. Wish I would have known. My surgery is May 25th. Thank you for this, it helped me a lot. Mom is still doing well at 69 years old.

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for this, I am going through this (one side only) my scar took forever to heal and they wouldnt start expanding till it fell off. I have my first expansion tomorrow. It is so strange having a hard deformed lump at the moment, but seeing you pictures gives me hope that it will all turn out right in the end. Thankyou.

Anonymous said...

How are you doing today?