Reconstuctive surgery

colbcolb Member Posts: 17
edited August 2011 in Health and wellbeing

Hi to all the other breast cancer survivors out there.

I am nearly at my 5 year mark after my mastectomy, only one more visit to the surgeon and then I hope never to see him again ( no offence to him as he certainly is a wonderful human being) as it means this leg of my journey is over..

Today I started the journey of reconstructive surgery. I had previously visited a plastics guy but $5000 plus even with top health cover, just wasn't in the budget. So I put it off.

I had a chat with the breast cancer nurses and was told to see if I could get it done in the public system. I work at a public hospital so this was most convenient. My hopes were high.

Today I was told yes i could get the tissue expander and implant done free of charge but they no longer offered anything on the other side so I would have to get that done privately $5000 came back into play. How ridiculous is this system.

As I work in the hospital the surgeon recommended I speak to the powers that be and ask them why.

I want to be even again, balanced. I am not wanting surgery for the fun of it but as a result of my cancer. The surgeon was horrified when I said "well maybe I should get the other breast removed for symmetry." I am 43 years old my breast cancer is more then likely the result of ray treatment I had 30 years ago for Hodgkins Disease.

Everyone does such a wonderful job raising awareness for breast cancer but we need help to continue on with our lives.

Col

Comments

  • Michelle16Michelle16 Member Posts: 34
    edited March 2015

    Hi

    I am going in on Thursday to have a bilateral masectomy and expanders than the implants later on. All of which I was offered through the public system for no cost to me.

    I had heard though if I didnt take the offer now that later down the track if I decided to have it done that it would be at my own expense.

    Not really a fair thing I thought. However I wanted it all to be done together and know I want reconstruction as I am only 32 and have a life time ahead of me and dont think I could cope with no new breasts.

    Good luck with your reconstruction Im kind of on an emotional rollercoaster atm with surgery only a few days away.

     

  • colbcolb Member Posts: 17
    edited March 2015

    Thanks Tonya for agreeing with my whinge. It just seems that once you wear your prothesis go back to work etc.. everyone thinks your journey is over. I am a bit disappointed at the moment and upset and a few friends I told today were astonished first at the fact that I had no option to reconstruct at the time of my mastectomy and then at the thought of me having to work 3 months to pay for it. I so feel like a hurdler. How are you going? I hope you are well.

    Col

  • colbcolb Member Posts: 17
    edited March 2015

    Good luck Michelle,

    You will be fine I think you have made a very wise choice doing it the way you have. I wish you a speedy recovery. Remember to follow all the Doctors instructions don't be tempted to do the house work , pick up kids etc.. give yourself time to recover. Also listen to the physio nurse and do the exercises to get full movement back.

    Please let me know how you go.

    Col

  • colbcolb Member Posts: 17
    edited March 2015

    Hi Tanya

    Thanks for your suggestions at the moment I feel like a car who needs panel beating...lol...

    I have had two quotes for body work and they are similar in price. I can get the tissue expander and implant done in a public hospital but they have just lost funding for making the other side match. The plastic surgeon told me he wouldn't be able to touch the remaining breast I would have to go to a private hospital to get that done which would cost about $5400. Doing it in both the private and public system would mean an extra surgery as they couldn't reconstruct on the right at the time of putting the implant in the left. Going private would add another $2300 and this is with a discount as I work in the hospital and he decided to be kind and reduce his fees.

    I like the idea of what you have done but when I suggest it people look at me weird and say why do you want to take of your healthy breast but I just want to be balanced. How did the expanders feel?Did you have to take much time off work? Was getting them filled ok? I so wish I could go to your surgeon how did he do it so cheap?

    Good luck with your next surgery, I am so happy for you and wish you lots of good health. Please let me know how you go I will be thinking of you :)

    Col

  • TanyaTanya Member Posts: 395
    edited March 2015

    Hi Col

    Getting the expanders is something you could do in your lunch hour, very little pain and its an in and out thingy that the nurse does.  My port had flipped which is uncommon so it was a little more difficult once that happened.

    People looked at me weird too, but with very young children, I didnt want to look back on my life if it was to come back in the other and say "I shoulda"!!

    I only had 7 days off work, but had the drains in for 10, so carried them in a bag, so looked a bit weird sitting at my desk working with my bag on.  But I only worked school hours.

    I dont reckon I had nearly as much pain the second time round (I think the majority of my pain was from the anxcillary clearance).

    The weirdest thing with the expander now that is is full is it sloshes around.  I can actually hear it sloshing and when I swim it just feels weird, like it wants to float only on that side.  But other than that it is fairly comfortable, nothing like a real breast, but I sleep on my side and can lay on it, yesterday I had a massage and can lie on my front too.

    That is just a ridiculous price!!  Why can they all be so different??  Maybe you should come for a holiday to Queensland and have it done up here, I know that is a lot of muching around??  Prior to finding this guy, my surgeon wanted me to have mine done in Brisbane and I was going to go without rather than be away from the kids and family for that long in a strange city.

    Did you check out the Breast angels site?  They help with the cost of reconstruction..The founders sister had BC and couldnt afford reconstruction and she set this up so every women could have it if they wanted.

    Good luck, I think I answered your questions.

     

    Hugs

     

    Tanya

  • TonyaMTonyaM Member Posts: 2,603
    edited March 2015

    Hi Col,

    I'm in top hospital cover and my first op for breast cancer(2003)was done in a private hosp. and I was out of pocket by about $1,000.The op last year was in a public hosp.(same surgeon)and only paid an extra few hundred dollars to my surgeon.I don't know where you are but Sydney has a lot of good surgeons who work in the public system.Keep shopping!

                                                     Tonya

  • TanyaTanya Member Posts: 395
    edited March 2015

    Hi Col

    Just re-read my post and had a chuckle that it read you could get expanders in your lunch hour!!!  Sorry :( should have read - Expander fill you could get in your lunch time....

    Tanya

    That would be one hell of a surgery to be in and out in your lunch time!!  either that our you have a VERY long lunch. lol

  • colbcolb Member Posts: 17
    edited March 2015

    Hi Tanya,

    Yes a long lunch sounds good. I have read that you are sore 1-2 days after getting the expanders filled? I am a bit confused now too much research has scared me. Maybe I should just keep my prothesis. It is hard to know what to do....... I hope you are well and enjoying your weekend.

    Col

  • colbcolb Member Posts: 17
    edited March 2015

    Thanks Tonya,

    I will keep shopping around. I am on the Central Coast and  think I will go see a Sydney surgeon to compare. I am not enjoying this part at all. :(

  • JacquelineJacqueline Member Posts: 106
    edited March 2015

    Hi all, I have had my mastectomy with acillary clearance 2 weeks ago, I was advised against expanders at the time as it may interfer with any other treatment  that I might need.

    I am to start chem 6 or 7th April and am borderline for radiotherapy after.

    I was disappointed not being able to start the reconstruction at the same time.

    Has anyone else been advised against doing it at the same time?After 3 ops thought it would have been so good to have had it together and saved myself another op later.

    My bc nurse has sent me info about a surgeon that does reconstruction at Newcastle for free, there is about an 18 month waiting time but if anyone wants the info I would gladly forward it on.

    I am surprised at the amount of pain I have been experiencing from the clearance mainly and the bruising, it has settled into more of an ache, and nerve distrubance is very uncomfortable, I am hopeful that it is not a permanent nerve thingy.

    Cheerio for now,

    Jacqui

     

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