16 June 2009

Fables of the Reconstruction

In addition to reaching the land of NED, I assumed the light at the end of this crapbasket would be a fierce boob job. Nothing like gravity-defying cleavage to turn around a tragic boob situation! But I recently learned that the huge amount of radiation I am going to have will pretty much destroy any chance of implants -- at least successful ones. I'm told if I attempt them, I could be walking down the street one day only to have one slip out and get trapped in my pant leg. Clip the wrong end of a revolving door? Bang, explosion. Booosh.

This turn of events will not doom me to a boobless existence, however. Instead, I'll likely have reconstructive surgery, a procedure that involves building some brand new hammers out of my own fat cells. Many pals have already offered up generous T&A donations (thanks, friends) but the doctors said it doesn't work that way. So much for going up a size.

Anyteets, reconstruction involves more extensive surgery, skin grafts, and the very Sci-Fi experience of walking around without nipples for up to a year. Nipples are "tattooed" on post operatively. There are people out there who actually specialize in this rare art. If you do a search for nipple tattoo artists, you'll find people who design all kinds of nips from the natural looking to those for which no areola is too big.

Later, Lefty
But all of this is down the road. In the here and now, I am completing chemo on Monday (yahoo!) and preparing for my mastectomy which should take place sometime in July. I've been kind of lax about getting a surgery date scheduled. I've had this laissez-faire "it's all good - whatever" attitude that's been zapping my sense of urgency. Maybe it's fatigue, or maybe I'm just sick of talking about tits! Also, some of the side-effect meds (not marijuana, but may as well be) could be causing this mellow cloudiness. I've had trouble writing lately (if the lapse in blogging is any indication) and have had all the mental clarity of an elderly driver at a farmer's market. I've also been in a very, very good mood -- unshakably good, but mindlessly so.

Last week, the only thing I had to do one morning was call my surgeon to schedule my consultation. I started picking balls of dried grape jelly off of Vito’s hindquarters and completely forgot about it for the rest of the day.

Would you please pass the jelleh?

I'm afraid I've become too complacent while plodding through what seems like endless treatment. At my last oncologist appointment, I learned that the A/C, Taxol and Herceptin has worked so well that the 10cm mass in Lefty is no longer palpable! My doc said I may even be a candidate for a lumpectomy since the tumor has shrunk so much. While I was thrilled to hear the treatment is working so well, this surgical scale-back threw me off a little. I've already bid farewell to Lefty and have resolved to go as drastic as possible surgery-wise to ensure this cancer doesn't come back. I'm trying to rekindle that sense of fear and urgency I felt in January.

Aside: Besides, Lefty is busted. It's always been trouble, rogue even, popping out of bathing suits at the most inopportune moments. Nobody has been subjected to this horror more than poor BG. Waving his hand like a white flag on the beach: “It’s out again! It’s out again! Put it back! No!”

My doc said survival rates are the same regardless of the type of surgery. There's a less than five percent chance of local recurrence (If HER2 recurs, it usually recurs distantly). There is always the chance of getting a second BC in either Lefty or Righty, but it's also a small one.

I trust my doctors and I know there are protocols that are more attractive, but ultimately you have to do what’s right for you. The BC statistics have been in my favor all along but have not necessarily come in on my side: Only six percent of BCs occur in women under 40. Only 20 percent of all BCs are HER2 positive. This is a trend I would like to buck. So I will not fuck with the odds just because they seem to be in my favor. So, off with the boobs! I want to be talking about reconstruction next year, not recurrence. I don't intend on going through this ever again.

DF 10, June 15 - Killing time
It's been awhile but my social worker (SW) has popped by my chemo cubby for a wee visit. She keeps calling me Kathy but I'm way too mellow to correct her: “It’s all good, you crazy coot.” The last time I saw the SW, I was in a crooked do-rag looking for happy pills so I can see how my newly calm exterior would throw her off.

SW: How are you feeling?
ME: Just chillaxing.

James returns from a sandwich run and sees the SW. Realizing we never tried to guess where she was from, we dig into our favorite time-killer.

JAMES: Definitely Brookline or Newton.
ME: “Yeah, man, sounds good. Good. Good. All good.”

A subsequent Google shows she is indeed from Newton Center.

Seven Songs of the Day -- 6/17/2009

1. Heavy Metal Drummer - Wilco
2. Hell Yes - Beck
3. Sports & Wine - Ben Folds Five
4. Tower of Strength - Mission UK
5. Outside - Tribe
6. Dry Land - Buffalo Tom
7. Hello, My Treacherous Friends - Ok Go

Today's playlist comes courtesy of Bart Parker in ME. Thanks, Bart!


KT said...

Newton Center! Damn, you guys are good. Ms. Kate, so glad to see your post and so sorry to have missed you on Monday (or "Mundee" as my grandmother would have said). You deserve a little chillaxing time and I'm thrilled that you have found some. Hope we can share a chilled glass o' vino and sweaty cheese log at Chez Tayla sometime very soon. Soul needs some Jackson-time.

Love to you, James & the wee brown ones.

P.S. The offer for "A" still stands. (I would offer you T but really don't have enough to go around.)

Cameo said...

Anyone for a NEDtini?

jal said...

I'm in!

Anonymous said...

Kate - This is all good news! Yes, you must do what is right for you.


P.S. my verification word is "reatox." I wonder if it is a cousin to taxotere or cytoxin?

Anonymous said...

I think we should all get nipple tattoos in solidarity. It will be a new gang, The Nips. Of course we are a much tougher crowd than the Bloods or the Crips.

Glad to hear your feeling better!


Anonymous said...

HI Kate:

I confess, I am a PU junkie! Even though I saw you recently, I still hunger for your posts! And this one is AWESOME!!! 1 more - yippee!

I'm with KT - I can offer plenty of A - probably 10 DD's.

You go girl - this is YOUR decision!!

See you on the 27th!


Auntie J

KC/ HOB said...

Hmm Nipple tatoos. That is a career choice if I have ever heard one. HOB loves you large with or without the ta ta tee tee tas. I may get a nipple tattoo with you.
Camden saved a pack of Big League Chew for Auntie Kate, he said it was your favorite when you were a little girl.


KT (and the sunshine band) said...

I am IN for NEDtinis and nipple tattoos (in that order). But where to place them? I'm thinking either on my kneecaps or smack-dab in the middle of my forehead. Suggestions?

(...c'mon SD - you know you're due for some new ink!)

Roving Lemon said...

Bummer about the implants, and that you're not able to accept T&A donations (to which I would happily contribute). But nipple tattoos are some kind of silver lining. Count me in to start the antipodean branch of The Nips. Nxo

lpd said...

Permanently tattooed CHINESE STAPLES? Hell yeah!

'Tis all good indeed, KJ. Girlfriend deserves to chillax.

Hugs, kisses and any kind of tissue donations that you need and can accept.


Code Red said...

We can put a man on the moon, but can't figure out how to donate a little T&A to a friend!? That's just not right. :)

Don't forget to pack a cooler and a large bottle of Cavit in the car on Monday for the ride home from the DF. Looking forward to toasting the end of chemo with you!

Big hugs!

Paula said...


I will willi.ngly add a nipple tat to my ink!!!!! I think I am smelling a new challenge for the fishing derby next year... nipple tats for all the wee ones.... hahahha...
Great great great news... and boobs or no boobs... I have said it before and I will say it again... You are beautiful!!!!

Love you

Dr. Nic said...

Kate -
so glad you are about to finish this stage - its been long! You know I'd willing share half my boobs with you but damn it! they won't do it....good point you make code red.

You are beautiful Kate
love you

Anonymous said...

Sending good thoughts you way on your last day of treatment!

CD (Friend of your cousin Paula's and avid reader of the PU)