Vanity? Or reasonable choice

Kate38 Member Posts: 16
I was 1st diagnosed with stg 3 tnbc in 201. Unfortunately in 2017 it metastasised to my brain. Since then I have had 4x craniotomies 2x radiation and 4 x chemo. Unfortunately just found out latest line of chemo has been ineffective, and treatment plan has been revised, am about to start some more radiation.  

Good news is I have survived 5+ years with brain mets.  Have been beating the odds :). Unfortunately this can not continue. It is unlikely that I will survive the year. However I am contemplating some further breat surgery. My original surgery included complete mastectomy and axillary clearance of left breast. Surgeon reconstructed the breast during the initial surgery.  However the reconstructed beast is considerably smaller than my remaining right breast.  I would love to correct this.  Given my limited life expectancy and current ongoing treatment, is my considering reconstructive surgery now a exercise in vanity,? I would love to be able to dress in the morning without having to undertake the daily foob(prosthetic) hunt.  The lopsidedness does bother me, particularly when I go swimming.



  • Julez1958
    Julez1958 Member Posts: 1,152
    Hi @Kate38
    So sorry about your situation and please accept my virtual hugs.
    Did you ever have a consult with a plastic surgeon about what would be involved?
    I can only speak from my own experience with DIEP flap surgery which was big with a big recovery ( I am talking months).
    You would have to weigh up the risks of surgery and recovery time with the time you have left and quality of life issues.
    I am assuming you would have this as a private patient do there round also be the cost up weigh up .
    That is assuming you could find a surgeon prepared to do the surgery given your situation.
    For your own peace of mind it might be worth having a consult with a plastic surgeon who specialises in breast reconstruction for more of an idea of what is involved.
    What city / town are you in ?

  • arpie
    arpie Member Posts: 7,677
    Oh my gosh, @Kate38 - I am so sorry to hear the treatment is not working - but how amazing that you've done so well for 5 years already.  That is testament to your team and your own resilience xx

    Re getting a reconstruction at this stage - that is a really big ask ..... @Julez1958 has raised some very valid points that you need to consider - have you discussed this with your immediate family?   I know that surgery wasn't offered to my husband when he was diagnosed with mets in his stomach & abdomen just over 2 years ago .... and I was glad in a way, as I remember the recovery he went thru back in 2010 when most of his stomach was removed.  

    If I was in the same situation, I am pretty sure I wouldn't have it done .... as I haven't even had the dent in my surgery site 'filled up again' ...  tho I could, if I wanted to. 

    However ....  having said that - after weighing up all the pros & cons & discussing it with your family, the Onc team & the plastic surgeon, particularly re your quality of life in recovering from the surgery given your prognosis  ..... if it is your heart's desire .... at the end of the day, it really is your choice xx. Good luck xx

  • Blossom1961
    Blossom1961 Member Posts: 2,395
    @Kate38 Not vanity. The recovery time will drain you so keep that in mind. Once you have weighed up all the facts, you decide. I hated looking in the mirror at my one sidedness. I though long and hard and decided on a tatt designed by my husband and done by a BC tatt specialist that I travelled interstate for. Sure, it is just cosmetic but for my mental comfort I did it. Talk to your team and see what they say before you decide as it may not be an option. Sending you massive hugs
  • Cath62
    Cath62 Member Posts: 1,312
    Hi @Kate38, I think talk to your team about your wishes and check recovery with your treatment. It's your body, your life and your wishes that matter. I think you are amazing to get through what you have been through so far. I send big hugs to you and your family xx
  • Fufan
    Fufan Member Posts: 123
    Hi @Kate38.  I send a hug.  You have been through so much, and survived 5 years with brain Mets.  Amazing.  And now you are considering reconstructive surgery.  There have been some wise suggestions above: consult with your medical team; if you believe your time is limited, how much of that do you want to sacrifice to surgery and recovery? 
    I also have uneven boobs, so I can agree that it’s not ideal.  I had a left mastectomy last year, no reconstruction. But after my prosthesis and bras were fitted, I lost 20 kg, so that my own right boob is smaller.  Standing naked before the mirror doesn’t bother me, or my husband, but I guess my vanity comes in when I dress.  I like to look nice in my clothes, so I am finding I have to supplement my poor little remaining boob with various combinations of chicken fillets, knitted knockers, loose fill, etc.  It’s tedious, but maybe an approach you could consider to even things up, without spending precious time on surgery.  But if it’s your naked body that worries you, or anyone else, well that’s a different problem.
    As has been said many times, we all have a different cancer experience (and different attitudes and values too).  In the final analysis, it is your choice and no-one else’s.  Good luck.
  • Abbydog
    Abbydog Member Posts: 482
    Dear Kate38,
    I'm so sorry for what you have been through.
    I understand wanting reconstruction. I've done it. I had Lat Dorsi. It was significant surgery with 3 wound drains and took 5 months between the 2 surgeries. This probably isn't what you need.
    I don't think that you have made it clear of what you want done.
    Some surgeries are much bigger than others. I'm sure you probably know this.
    Have you seen a surgeon, who is happy to do the surgery? And an anaesthetist ?
    Is a breast reduction what you want?
    Or change of implant to a larger size?
    I do understand, but I don't think that I would spend a significant amount of your time recovering surgery.
    Do you generally bounce back after surgery?
    For me, I would prefer a nice holiday, or time spent with family.

  • arpie
    arpie Member Posts: 7,677
    hmmmm @Kate38 ..... continuing on from what @Abbydog mentioned ..... there's more than one way to look at this!

    If you DO go ahead with the surgery, would it be an easier & quicker recovery to have the bigger breast reduced (so they both match), rather than the (probably) more complicated surgery to increase the affected breast to match the healthy one? 

    Just a thought ....

    take care & all the best with your decision making xx

  • Kate38
    Kate38 Member Posts: 16
    Thank you all for your kind thoughts, I think emotionally I would like to go for further surgery, the treatment I am currently in precludes that as a side effect is delayed wound healing.  I will ll wait awhile and see how I feel once this treatment is over xo
  • Abbydog
    Abbydog Member Posts: 482
    Thanks for the update. All the best with your treatment in the meantime.