3 weeks ago, I walked out of hospital and phoned my husband. "The doctor has given me the all clear, my breast tissue is clear, it's time to get on with our lives!!!" The sun was shining, I was over joyed.
Tonight, I am sat here 2 days post op, wondering what happened...
My left breast, "lefty", had been a bit of a nuisance since day one. It hurt more, it was more swollen, the drains coming out of it were filled with nasty liquid, it was always just a little bit more trouble.
Last week I saw my consultant on the Tuesday. I was concerned about the look of the wound across the middle of my left breast. It just didn't look right. My consultant agreed. We discussed leaving it for a few days to see how it developed and if I had any trouble I was to call him. On Thursday it had become worse. I made a frantic call to the Breast Care nurses and left a message. Friday morning I received a call back saying my consultant (Mr S) would like to see me ASAP.
Paul rushed me up to the clinic and Mr S assessed the situation. Mr S explained the risk of another surgery, infection, general anesthetic etc. He told me he didn't wish to operate unnecessarily but that the implant was pushing my scar open. Basically, the wound would pop open at some point, he just didn't know when. I was sent home with a complete kit of saline, gloves, dressings - the works! And Paul was sent home with strict instructions on what to do "when" my breast burst open! - Well the weekend was a nightmare. I was petrified to do anything. I was scared I would end up at A&E and no one would know what to do!
Luck was on my side and by the Tuesday, there was still no split. I found myself back with Mr S. "We need to operate" was his response. I knew it was coming, but I had hoped and prayed that it wouldn't be necessary. I'd hoped that my awesome breasts would make a come back and save the day. Mr S explained to me that the surgery would be a 10/15 minute procedure where he would cut away the bad skin, the part where my blood vessels had died, and literally pull the skin back and sew.
The morning of the op, I was slightly apprehensive, but nothing major. I kept thinking "It'll be fine, the last operation was a lot longer, this will be easy" ... I saw patients in the day unit coming in and out. Some crying as it was their first ever operation, I felt optimistic. At 2:30 I was called and sent down to theatre.
I awoke 2 hours later. The first thing I did was check down my gown. Phew... I saw gauze and padding, I thought it had all gone well. Within a minute of opening my eyes, Mr S was there. He held my hand, looked me in the eyes and said "I'm so sorry Rebekah. I did everything I could, but I could not save the implant.."
Two tears fell.
I was numb.
I looked again, "lefty" wasn't there.
Before I was let home, Mr S came to see me. He explained that the strattice (pig tissue) hadn't taken. It hadn't attached itself to my skin, so was effectively floating around in the build up of fluid. He had no option but to take it all out. He had tears in his eyes as he told me. I wanted to hug him and tell him it was ok...
I left hospital at 9:30pm drain in hand and one boob down.
It's been tough. The discovery of having the BRCA gene was tough, but incredible. The first operation was tough, but worth it. Now... well... I have to live for the next 4 months or so without my left breast. It's so very hard to come to terms with. The hardest part being, I AM NOT ILL!!! I've been so lucky not to have been diagnosed with breast cancer, yet I'm forced to bear a similar scar. I will see the prosthetic department next week and they will supply me with a fake boob to pop into my bra.
Mr S says he can rebuild my breast, but it will take time and multiple operations from now on. I had one shot at the strattice and implant and my body rejected it.
I'm in limbo at the moment. I can't look at myself. Looking in the mirror makes me cry. My left side is sunken in and flat against my chest cavity.
Big baggy jumpers will be my new best friends.
I have so much to be grateful for and in a few days, I will realise that again.
For now, I will grab the box of tissues, wrap a blanket around me and my new best friend, and cry.
To everyone who has been there over the last 12 months and especially recently. Thank you for your support.
To my two bestest friends in the whole world, thank you for allowing me to send you regular "boob updates" at inappropriate times! I love you both so much.
To my husband, well what can I say... If you leave me for some double D model now, well... I couldn't blame you...
Seriously, thank you. I couldn't do any of this without you and your weird sense of humour.
To you...Thank you so much for reading and letting me lean on you to tell my story.
I love you.