Tuesday, February 8, 2011


INDIANAPOLIS - There are a few women who, immediately after being diagnosed with breast cancer, have the presence of mind to know that they want reconstructive surgery following the removal of a tumor. Some of us are baffled by the information, overwhelmed by the data and options, and quite frankly, terrified about all the other stuff we have going on at the time. Our thoughts focus on how to get rid of the bad tissue and can’t grasp the importance, if any, of rebuilding what’s left.

I tried in vain to explain to my 9-year-old daughter what was going to happen when I had my partial mastectomy a few years ago. She, being a fan of science fiction, asked if I would consider getting some sort of a laser gun installed instead. That way, I can be a superhero. Let’s face it, she said calmly, you just told me you were going to be wearing a wig. Why not a cape and secret weapons as well? That kid. Always bringing something never previously contemplated into the conversation.

So now we learn that a super-special risk called ‘anaplastic large cell lymphoma’ could be a potential side effect of reconstruction with implants. The American Cancer Society says that the risks are small, but risks nonetheless.

In my personal opinion, any time you go in for a surgical procedure, there are risks. You know that because you are asked to sign forms attesting to that fact. Sometimes myriad forms, but that’s a blog for another time.

Some of us, and I mean US quite literally – I have friends around the world who have written to me - are looking at doing this surgery soon. A few are doing mastectomies to remove questionable bits and pieces (me) and then ‘completing’ with reconstruction. Some of my friends have waited after their mastectomies for years and have decided this is the time to do reconstruction. Some of the gals who are new to the club are getting it all done at once. No matter why, when or where the surgery happens, I am right there with you, my sisters. Because I know that every single thing in life carries a risk. Somehow we try to find the right path and just pray like crazy.

As long as we know we have company along the road, it kind of makes it all worthwhile, doesn’t it?

1 comment:

Doreen said...

I'm sending you a great big hug Heidi ... you are in my thoughts and prayers ... there are risks for everything in life - and we make the choices we feel are the right ones for ourselves to balance those risks ..

I'm praying and waiting for the day when we have a cure for breast cancer - actually we know that it is several different types of cancer - not a single disease - and for the day when the cause(s) are known and we no longer have anyone diagnosed with breast cancer - unfortunately there are far too many of us ...