Category Archives: medical choice

our medical choices aren’t always painless…

Can I have a bit of a whine?

This past week I had a revision surgery following my bilateral mastectomy and free TRAM reconstruction last September. This surgery involved reopening the incisions on both breasts and reducing the size of my reconstructed breasts and “lifting” them.

Surgery went well and the recovery is going well too. The big bandages all came off on Monday during a visit to the plastic surgeon’s office, and the stitches will be coming out on Thursday.

I am off work until at least Thursday after the stitches come out. Most likely I will go back next Monday because while I start my days feeling great things go downhill by late afternoon and I am reaching for the pain tablets. My job requires me to be “on the ball” and my brain is a bit scattered this week after the general anaesthetic. My fourth general in the 16 months since the whole breast cancer experience started!

Today Angelina Jolie made public her BRCA positive status and her decision to have a prophylactic bilateral mastectomy and reconstruction. Her piece in The New York Times is brilliant. See it here: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/05/14/opinion/my-medical-choice.html

Angelina’s choice in removing her breasts is a major step towards showing women that they have been blinded by the pink ribbons. Women on Twitter are already asking “why would she do this when breast cancer is so curable?”.

I have been answering any of these messages that I see tagged with #breastcancer. I have been telling women that they have been blinded to the truth about breast cancer. It is NOT really that curable. Early detection does not equal cure. Researchers have a long long way still to go until we can truly say that breast cancer at any stage is curable.

Got that message now everyone? I thank Angelina for her openness!

Now to get to the whinge…

Angelina Jolie, while helping publicise the reality of the decision, brushed over the reality of the process. She said “Two weeks later I had the major surgery, where the breast tissue is removed and temporary fillers are put in place. The operation can take eight hours. You wake up with drain tubes and expanders in your breasts. It does feel like a scene out of a science-fiction film. But days after surgery you can be back to a normal life.”

Days? How many days? She made it sound so easy!

Maybe it was easy for her. She’s fit and has the best help at hand. How many nannies have been reported? What does “getting back to work” really mean in her life?

Hmmm, I think I’m due for another pain tablet…

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