I want to take a moment during nap time today to catch you all up on my BRCA journey! So many of you have reached out to me letting me know how this story has impacted you. I have had so many encouraging notes and phone calls and prayers said on my behalf that I am thinking God used this to bless me in ways I never would have guessed. Not only did he spare me from the liklihood of cancer, but he has blessed me with all kinds of love along the way. Love poured out to my family and I that I never would have experienced without the BRCA gene. So yes, I am THANKFUL for being BRCA positive.
I am three months and 10 days past my preventative double mastectomy and I am very happy with the results and with my recovery. I feel like if we had to stop here, I would still be happy. I don't look like I did before and my breasts certainly don't feel like they did before, but after three months, it is getting to be pretty normal and I know that I could continue on with life like this if I had too. After all, as I have said from the beginning, my hope isn't in my boobs, it's in Christ Jesus, so let's press on. :)
However, tomorrow I have one final surgery, Lord willing, to finish up this process that started way back in February. I am going in for an outpatient surgery to remove my tissue expanders and replace them with my "permanent" silicone implants. (They are projected to last 10-20 years).
I am actually super excited about this surgery. The implants will not be hard and perfectly round like the tissue expanders. They will sit more naturally on my body and will be much softer to the touch. I think the worst thing about the expanders is how hard they are. They just feel unnatural and sometimes they are itchy and uncomfortable. Nothing unbearable, but I will be happy to trade them in!
There were a couple of different options to consider for the implants and after talking extensively with my plastic surgeon about it (she is so patient and kind!) I decided to go with what they call the "gummy bear" implant. It is a tear drop shaped implant mad out of silicone, but if you were to cut it in half the silicone would stay in place, much like how the inside of a gummy bear would if you cut one of those in half... hence the nickname. I chose this one because I just happened to be expanded to the right size, and the doctor thinks it will fit my body shape well. It also has less of a rippling effect that normal silicone implants are known for.
I will have to have an MRI one year after the implants are placed, and then once every three years after that to make sure that I haven't sprung a leak in one, in which case I will need to go in for another surgery similar to the one I am having tomorrow, to have it replaced.
So there is your update! People have been asking how I am feeling about it all, and to be honest I haven't really thought about it much recently. A few months ago BRCA was on my mind a lot. But now, I have settled back into the natural rhythm of life around here and I seem to forget about it most days. Mostly, I feel thankful. Thankful for the experience, thankful for the grace, thankful for the outcome, thankful for the love poured out, thankful for the prayers lifted up and answered, thankful for the opportunity to speak grace to those in the situation and maybe offer a little peace and persecutive in the midst of a scary diagnosis. Thankful.
A couple things for some of you who may be facing the decision to have a preventative mastectomy...
I thought I would be uncomfortable for 3 months, I wasn't. Like I said, after about a month and a half I basically moved on and didn't think about it very much.
The hysterectomy and mastectomy went very well for me. I couldn't have asked for any better. Btu I know this is not everyone's story. Not everyone gets to keep their nipples, not everyone comes out without complications, not everyone recovers at the same pace. But there is grace for everyone, and enough for every distinct person and situation. What God is really after is our hearts, and so I want to encourage you to surrender to Jesus and place your life in his care. When we can see Jesus for who he is, God's son who laid down his life for us, and now make, intercessions for us before the Father; and when we see ourselves in light off all that he is, our temporary trials and afflictions fade... they really do.
Again, THANK YOU for coming along side me during all of this. I will update in a few days on the outcome of this final BRCA surgery and the recovery!