DOC TALK- with my Reconstructive Breast Surgeon

I was not afraid of cancer, I was afraid of the unknown. There are so many questions the come up when you are diagnosed- “Will I survive?” “Should I get a mastectomy?” “What will I look like?”. We look to other women and men who have been there before to get a glimpse at our possible future but every case in unique and some read more like horror stories that leave you awake at night. 

There is a point when you have to stop googling and go talk to a real expert. Dr. Christopher Low with Vanguard Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (VASPFL.com) was kind enough to let me interview him with some of my biggest breast reconstruction questions. He was also my outstanding reconstructive surgeon. You can see his work in my “Top 5 Weird Reasons I LOVE My Mastectomy” and “Mastectomy Photo Series”. 

Hopefully this will help ease some of your fears about the unknown world of reconstruction that you are heading into. 

 

Here is my list questions and you can hear all of his answers in my VLOG, “DOC TALK with my Reconstructive Breast Surgeon”:

  • When is the best time to get a Plastic Surgeon involved?
  • What is the difference between Silicone and Saline? 
  • Will Silicone make me sick if it leaks?
  • Tear drop vs. Round?
  • Bras? 
    • Can I go without a bra? 
    • Any special type of bra?
  • Nipples, what are my options?
  • Expanders, Why did I need them?
  • Why are your fingers blue?
Fear keeps us focused on the past or worried about the future. If we can acknowledge our fear, we can realize that right now we are okay. Right now, today, we are still alive, and our bodies are working marvelously. Our eyes can still see the beautiful sky. Our ears can still hear the voices of our loved ones.
— Thich Nhat Hanh

What are some questions you wish you asked when you started this process? Comment Below.

 

If you found this helpful please donate to help make the documentary based on my one woman show, “I Don’t Have Cancer”. 

The best place for soft, comfortable, inexpensive, front closure sports bras for after surgery was Walmart. They were the only place that had them. Here is a link for the ones I used. 

I'm Scared to ask...for HELP.

“I need help”. Why are these three little words so hard to say? For some, "I LOVE YOU", is the scariest triple word combo, for me its "I NEED HELP". I cringe before saying it. Is it because people will know I can’t do it all? Is it because people might reject me? 

Clearly, I should have asked for help when I cut my own bangs at 9 years old. 

Being vulnerable is horrifying, to show your underbelly and trust that people won't attack it or even worse IGNORE IT. My mother and father always told me that words are cheap. You can say "I love you" as much as you want, but real love is ACTION. You must SHOW love, not just say it.

A few days ago this was put to the test. My first treatment of Taxol had been scheduled 3 weeks in advance but I waited until the last minute to get a chemo buddy (someone to pick me up, hang with me, and drive me home). I knew that I had 5 people in my immediate circle who said they would help but when I called each of them (the day before chemo <—I know, I am a dope and that is my fault) they all had plans, people visiting, prior obligations, etc. My husband offered to drop me off and leave work early to pick me up, but that meant this would be my first time alone at chemo, plus I felt guilty making him leave work. A wave of self pity washed over me. I knew that I had done this to myself by waiting until the day before treatment but it didn’t shake the fact that I felt like an orphan in that moment, unloved, alone and a burden to those around me. Once I pulled myself out of my self-imposed pity-party, I was determined not to let this happen again. 

I realized that I had so many issues wrapped up in accepting help. It's easier to give help than to receive it. Giving made me feel good, receiving made me feel guilty. I didn't think I deserved help.

One of Maya Angelou’s essay’s from her book “Letters to my Daughter” has always stuck in my head. It was about accepting gifts graciously and that it was actually a gift for the giver as well as the recipient. People want to help, they want the opportunity to be of service. They just don’t know how. I had to remember that their giving wasn’t just helping me but it was helping both of us. Some of the most joyous moments in my life where when I was giving to someone else without expectation and wanting nothing in return. The only desire being to genuine help and connect. 

So I went on Facebook to put the “Social Network” to the test and posted a funny -still had to add a little self-defense to pad any rejection- but real inquiry for volunteer chemo buddies.

 

Within an hour all of the February and most of March’s appointments were filled and I had a huge back up list ready for April’s appointments.


The lesson here was that my fear of being vulnerable was what was really isolating me. I am not alone and neither are you. Ask for help, you might be surprised by who shows up.