Pardon my dust …

23 Aug

under construction signJust a note to let you know this site is under construction. Not the website: me.

Since January 2013, I’ve been working with a great plastic surgeon at UW Medicine to reconstruct my girls, lost to breast cancer in April of 2011. I had high hopes that I’d be able to keep all of you up to date on my progress, but between the multiple surgeries, the creepy complications, the healing process, the physical therapy, the emotional upheaval, the fabulous new job (took a full-time writing gig at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in January) and my other much-less-fabulous job – dealing with the aftermath of breast cancer and treatment – I’ve just been too dang busy.

So instead of beating myself up about not putting up a blog post every ten minutes (or ten months, for that matter), I decided to post this electronic version of a yellow “Under Construction” sign.

My next surgery is slated for early September. Yep, just a few days away. I’ll be going through more micro fat transfer (i.e., having fat liposucked from my lower body and injected into my top, particularly Lefty, who had rads) plus swapping out my cereal bowls … er … tissue expanders for “real” implants. I’ll still need nipple construction and tattooing after that but those procedures should be a little easier. Famous last words, right? ; )

If you’re looking for a laugh, here are a couple of links to recent essays on TODAY.com.

Chemo curls: How cancer, and my new hair, helped me grow

Not your Mrs. Robinson fantasy: The brutal truth of dating after 50

And if you’re curious about what I’m doing in the new job, please feel free to check out my stories at www.fredhutch.org.

Thanks for stopping by and for your patience and support as I make my way down the long road to reconstruction. Looking forward to catching up with you all once the dust settles.

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16 Responses to “Pardon my dust …”

  1. caren helene rudman August 24, 2014 at 6:31 am #

    Hang in there…you are hopefully on the home stretch! I had 4 surgeries in 1 year, 2 infections where I needed 2 pic lines. Now I feel great…but need to do my arm stretches everyday!

    • SingleShot/DoubleWhammied August 31, 2014 at 11:14 am #

      Thanks so much for the well wishes, Caren. And so sorry to hear you’ve been through the surgery wringer, as well. Reconstruction is definitely a slog but yes, I’m on the home stretch now! – Diane

  2. J Seda August 24, 2014 at 8:25 am #

    Very happy to hear you’re continuing on and have found a path that works for you. You’re a trooper!!! I’ve finished all my reconstruction and it isn’t what I came into the world with but doable. Long road and glad its behind me. Onto living!! 🙂 Good Luck on upcoming surgery and keep us posted.

    • SingleShot/DoubleWhammied August 31, 2014 at 11:17 am #

      Thanks for the lovely note, Joan, and so great to hear from you. You were such a help after that first surgery and its craptastic complications. Hoping I can make it through #4 without any trouble. Definitely looking forward to losing my “cereal bowl boobs” (i.e., tissue expanders) and going back to something a bit more “natural” looking (as much as silicone implants can look natural). I think all the fat transfer will help soften things – and even things up (poor Lefty continues to lag behind thanks to rads). Big hugs and thanks for stopping by. — Diane

  3. Laurie Anderson August 24, 2014 at 9:15 pm #

    Wow. Not a good year…..1983…..dad died in August…..on a trip with travel executives from Seattle in November my husband died of a disected aorta on the Big Island……3 weeks later I was diagnosed with breast cancer…..then my appendix ruptured…..bi-lateral breast cancer surgery put off for three plus weeks. All alone….. no kids….very little family…..lots of wonderful neighbors and friends. Great company I worked for supported me all the way. A female member of the company mentioned that since I belonged to the Washington Athletic Club, she wondered if we could go to their “get acquanted singles party”.in August ….the night of the Seahawks first exhibition game. I finally acquiesced not realizing that most of the men who might be involved would be at the game! OMG! When we got to the WAC there were about 5 men in attendance, at which time I told my co-worker we could sit in the corner, have a drink, and then I’d drive her home. Unfortunately – or fortunately as it turned out – we were visited by two nice gentlemen who proceeded to keep us entertained for an hour or so. On our departure, one of the gentlemen asked for my phone number and me, not having been in the dating world for 20 some years, blurted it out! Oh, dear! Received a call the next day…..”would you like to go……”…….”no, I’m sorry I’m busy…..”…….how about a drive to the mountains tomorrow afternoon (Sunday)……”….okay…..” ……and the rest is history. When I told him about my double mastectomy (four months after our first meeting) he laughed and said he had small hands!
    With that I knew he was a keeper……….and we’ve been together since May of 1985…just 2 1/2 months before I turned 50.

    • SingleShot/DoubleWhammied August 31, 2014 at 11:21 am #

      Thanks for sharing your story, Laurie. 1983 sounds like a horrible year for you, but I love how you’ve rebounded. And your new fella with the small hands — and the big heart — definitely sounds like a keeper. Congrats on making it through and kicking cancer to the curb — and keeping it there – for 30 years. So inspiring! Diane

  4. Robert Domitz August 25, 2014 at 2:38 pm #

    Welcome back! I am glad that things are getting better!

    • SingleShot/DoubleWhammied August 31, 2014 at 11:22 am #

      Thanks so much, Robert! Life has been the usual mixed bag but I always try to keep my chin up. ; ) Diane

      • Joy Hill September 1, 2014 at 3:48 pm #

        I’ve just read your article and your reconstruction sounds very interesting. I had a single masectomy 1 year ago. I’ve had cancer 3 times. My sister too. She sent me your article. I had a problem with my anesthesiologist this last time and I’m a bit gun shy about having 2 more surgeries. How long in all does this take? I’m already a D cup so maybe I would adjust..who knows. My fabulous oncologist Dr. Saul Rivkin retired so now may be a good time to change drs to the University. Any advice? Joy H

  5. Joy H September 3, 2014 at 3:59 pm #

    Diane, I just tried to make an appointment with the doctors you used and they are no longer doing the dome/brava method?? Did you know this? The reception just informed me. What was your outcome? Joy H

  6. Maggi Gioffre August 24, 2017 at 5:24 am #

    I read your post about telling those women who think a mastectomy is like getting a boob job. I’m a Stage 0 survivor who opted for a bilateral Mastectomy due to family history. I now, 9 years later, still have that scraping feeling and horrible chest tightness and I have a flat chest. My implants and capsules were removed in 2013 in hopes of decreasing my pain. It made it worse. Just FYI. Don’t ever have those implants removed. They’re not the source of your pain. Severe damage to your intercostal nerves is the cause of your pain, inflicted during your surgery by the same person who is supposed to heal you. The surgeons are well aware of PMPS but
    Choose to cut the hell away at out nerves anyway. It takes too long to spare out nerves and no one is telling them they have to do that. And hey, “we should be happy we are alive!” Well, I can tell you, 9 years later I don’t feel alive. Just yesterday I had a flare up of pain that took my breath away. Nothing would touch it. Not meds, ice, position. Post Mastectomy Pain Syndrome or PMPS is the best kept secret of the medical community. No one is required to specifically tell you about it before surgery. No one tells you about it after your surgery. At least, no surgeon will tell you what you have even though you are describing exactly the signs and symptoms of the well-documented PMPS. It is not rare. It happens to about 40% of all Mastectomy patients.

    • Joy H August 28, 2017 at 8:27 pm #

      I just recently went to a plastic surgeon to see if I might get a boob job. The surgery is 8-9 hours because they want to do both sides. My heart dr doesn’t like the idea of me being out that long. They said a flap wouldn’t work because I’ve had radiation and that trashes the tissue..eek..seems like you get info in something and it opens a can of worms.

      • SingleShot/DoubleWhammied September 1, 2017 at 9:31 am #

        Yes, Joy, reconstruction is incredibly complicated. FYI, I had radiation on my L side and eventually went with implants. The skin is definitely more damaged on that side but the micro fat transfer that I had done has helped to soften it (FYI, it took a while — and several rounds of fat). Best of luck with whatever route you choose to go — flap, TEs and implants or flat and fabulous.

        -d

      • Joy H September 1, 2017 at 8:11 pm #

        What is a micro fat transfer?

      • SingleShot/DoubleWhammied September 9, 2017 at 2:47 pm #

        Hey Joy … micro fat transfer is basically taking fat from one place and putting in another or as I sometimes like to call it, borrowing from Peter to pay Paul. In dribs and drabs. With fat. The plastic surgeon does this via liposuction (as opposed to some type of ‘flap’ surgery like DIEP or latisimus where they take a chunk of fat at one time and move it to after your chest to create new breasts).

        Micro fat transfer is usually done reconstruction of any type to fill in holes and gaps and dents and ripples left by “flappy” boobs or “foobs” (fake boobs with implants). Hope that helps!

        Also, re your note above about the whole Brava micro fat transfer thing. No, I don’t think the UW is doing any more clinical trials with Brava. You can still do micro fat transfer (and hope your insurance pays for it) but I don’t think the Brava device makes all that much difference as to whether you create a bigger ‘pocket’ for fat or whether the fat survives once it’s injected into your chest.

    • SingleShot/DoubleWhammied September 1, 2017 at 9:28 am #

      Thanks so much for sharing your experience, Maggi. I have not done any research on PMPS, but will in days to come. Sounds like we need more stories out on the subject.

      So sorry for all the pain that you’ve been through. It is incredibly frustrating when patients’ well-documented issues are dismissed by docs who don’t want to own the damage that they do while “caring” for us. Please let me know if you are able to find anything to relieve the pain from your surgeries. All the best,

      -d

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