Surgeons Say The Darndest Things

When making a life-changing, irreverisble medical decision, you want your physician to be honest with you, discuss all viable options and potential outcomes, and listen respectfully to your concerns. The plastic surgeon did all of those things, but we had been warned that he often spoke without thinking. I should not have been shocked then to hear him say (he is my age), “Given your age (!), not being in front of patients any more, and having a stable long-term relationship, you could opt for the less extensive reconstruction and settle for a less cosmetic chest.” To keep from getting angry or laughing in his face, I reminded myself how short he was, wondered what physical limitations he might possess, and pictured how jealous he would be of 2 women enjoying the glorious new boobs he was going to create. I reminded him that I hadn’t lost almost 120 pounds to have anything less than good-looking boobs! (Don’t ask about the scars or how I’m going to get something that resembles nipples.) Next he looked amazingly contrite and said, “You know, you have no control over your cancer, but you have complete control over your treatment and how you are going to look.” Total redemption.

I am having bilateral mastectomies with a 2-stage not very comfortable reconstruction process (bummer, 2 surgeries), and a chance to gradually watch my chest re-inflate until we decide the size is just right before he inserts permanent implants. Coming mid-June, a cancer free, pain wracked me!

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14 thoughts on “Surgeons Say The Darndest Things

  1. Just read your post before bed and wanted to let you know I’ve been thinking about you and putting good thoughts out for you. I can only say that as we know so well, time passes so quickly that in a few months, all of this nightmare will be a memory for you and I’m praying that it passes quickly, calmly, and smoothly. ~Blessings, Janet

    • Thank you so much for the thoughts and prayers. Heavens knows I need them. So does my partner who is already think about how much pain medicine to stock up for me. LOL

    • I have asked my Dad to find pictures of my in early 20’s as I have no recollection of what my body looked like – except that I wasn’t fat. Maybe I can get some picture of what size I want to be. By the time permanent replacements go in (3 months or even more after mastectomy) I should be getting really close to goal weight.

  2. Jan, since you are an intelligent woman, a physician, and an obviously take-charge person, I am guessing that your confidence is real — I would be a wreck. Please keep inspiring me — I need to learn from you. Love the way you handled the meeting with the plastic surgeon.

    • I am wreck. My bravado alternates with total numbness and a sense of unreality. Thank goodness my partner was with me during the visit because more than once I had to ask the surgeon to repeat what he had just said. Afterward at dinner, Sue and I went over the visit again to make certain that I had heard everything correctly.

      I’m slowly getting to the anger phase about having this disease. Lose weight, get cancer… Sob. Grrr!

  3. A tough decision, I know, but I think it’s the one I would opt for. Otherwise, I think I’d drive myself crazy imagining the worst-case scenario from every minor bump or swelling.

    My friend who went through the same surgeries (7 years ago and counting!) said the reconstruction certainly wasn’t fun, but after the chemo-radiation rounds, it wasn’t as bad as she had feared. She’s thrilled with the results. So is her hubby. 🙂

    • I’m prepping for the worst (pain wise) and expecting the best outcome. Totally ignoring the fact that tumor could actually be worse when fully removed and lymph nodes biopsied and the bazillion complications both surgeons have advise me of – well, guess not completely ignoring those.

  4. Men!!

    Sounds like you have made a good choice. I would like to have some say in how my boobs looked – I never liked the shape of mine in the first place – so I call that a bonus. Not without scariness and pain – but a bonus in the end.

  5. I ‘m send you warm vibes and prayers. I hope everything goes well for you! Also on the bright side if you get a new set – you won’t need a bra :O

  6. He could have just said, “you could opt for the less extensive reconstruction and settle for a less cosmetic chest.” Replacing “settle for” with “choose.” It’s rare to find physician specialists who speak diplomatically. We pay them for their surgery skills, not their verbal, true, but it sure makes the consults emotionally dicey.

    Here’s hoping you sail through your two surgeries and love your shapely new breasts.

    • Yes, framing can be everything. I think what bugged me the most was his assumptions about my “advanced” age of 56 and being partnered for 20 years and needing a professional public persona. (Wonder if he would have said the same thing to a fru-fru looking straight woman with her husband present?)

      Thank you for the good wishes!

  7. You are amazing in how you dealt with that surgeon. I commend you for taking control and doing what is right for YOU. I hope everything goes well and in a few months you will be cancer-free, and pain-free too. Sending the positive vibes your way!

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