I did a lot of research and felt that yeah I was going to have to go ahead. I had time with the breast cancer nurse to discuss whether I wanted a mastectomy without reconstruction or whether I wanted it with reconstruction and what type of reconstruction I wanted.
In the end I decided to go for an implant that was pumped up because I didn’t want to have the muscle taken from my back and brought round to the front. So by having a pumping up thing it means they just take the breast off and then they sew it up and it’s flat and then they gradually pump it up. And once it is the same size as your other breast, they then take that one out and replace it with an implant. And that’s stretched your skin, rather like when you’re pregnant, so it’s gradually getting bigger.
And I just felt that that was a better option because I really didn’t want my back interfered with as well as my front. So I choice that option. The other question I did ask was “Could I retain the nipple?” And I was told that, because the milk ducts go to the nipple, that there was obviously an element of risk if I left the nipple, so they would be taking the nipple as well, so I said “Fine.”
The night before I had the mastectomy the consultant did actually come and see me and say “Have we discussed nipples?” And I said “Yes we have” [laughs]. And he said “Well,” he said “I’ve been onto another hospital and they’ve had a lot of cases of DCIS and they have retained nipples.” And what they do is they give an extra blast of radiation, so he said, “You know, you can retain it if you want to.” Which left me in a bit of a quandary because I was being operated on the following morning. So I discussed it with my husband and I decided to keep the nipple.
When you saw the actual implant, was it what you expected? How did you feel?
Because I had this pump up version it was water, saline in it, so it was a bit like having a hot water bottle in your chest [laughs]. It was very odd because it rippled. But because I knew that was temporary, I don’t think I was worried one way or the other, you know, I didn’t, I just thought it’s there, you know.
Just slightly watery and mobile. And of course because, one thing I was surprised at, you look like you’ve got an 18 year old breast because of course it’s nice and pert, so I do have lop sided breasts [laughs] but that has never really worried me, you know, it’s just one of those things.
But since the second implant, which is the silicone one, it’s a lot harder than I thought it would be, because when you feel it in your hand, it’s very malleable and very mobile, it feels like a breast. But of course once it’s in situ, because you’re then, it’s sort of put in like a pocket and it’s behind a muscle to keep it in place, it’s very hard and it’s not mobile at all, you know, it’s a bit like a tennis ball up your front, it is hard.
But that, as I say, it doesn’t worry me but wasn’t what I was expecting, I think that’s the difference, I thought I was sort of expecting the same as a normal breast but it’s not, it is a lot harder. And again like a 17 year old, you know, no sag [laughs].