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Tuesday, October 1, 2013

New friend



Yup, that's a breast implant. Rather dreamy looking in this photo, don't you think?

Okay, some back story. I've been having an ongoing problem with a seroma (a collection of serous fluid) post surgery. And by that I mean, post mastectomy. As in, a year ago. Anyway, this seroma is the reason I've had to have drains for so long in the past. A seroma forms when there's an empty space in the body. The body does not like empty space so it fills it up with this fluid. (Is the human body a hoarder? It's not for me to say.)

Since the removal of my surgical drain last month, I've been having to go every week to the surgeon's office to have this fluid aspirated. I've tried basically everything to make this thing go away. Every supplement, nutritional thing, every pressure bandage. I tried acupuncture. Nothing worked.

After unveiling my latest seroma squelching scheme, which involved Crayola Model Magic, he suggested we try using a sample implant to fill the void, and just smoosh it down with a sports bra. So he sent me on my way with this little puppy, a 320 cc silicone implant.

It's an odd little thing. I passed it around when I got back to work, and freaked out my coworker when I gave it a tender smack, like the way I pat my dog on the rump.

It's sitting on my kitchen table now. I feel compelled to name it. Maybe because its saline cousin is currently occupying the space under my right pec muscle.

This implant is a medical device, I know. I feel like that should make me squeamish. But, I don't know, I feel a lot of affection for it. It's squishy, and fun to play with. And if I hold it just right, it reminds me of a crystal ball.

ETA: The silicon friend is in place. Very different from saline! Anyone out there have a real boob, so I can conduct a side-by-side squeeze comparison of real vs. saline vs. silicone? KTHXBYE

25 comments:

  1. I just found your blog, thanks to a link from Jezebel. You and I have been on parallel journeys this past year, right down to the seroma that will not go away. Last week I insisted on a procedure to remove its sac and close the vacant are with quilt stitching. I just could not face starting reconstruction with this thing, unhealed, for over a year. So. Every word you write resonates with me.

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  2. Thanks so much for your comment. Ugh, these seromas!!
    Do you mind if I ask more about what you're doing to get rid of the seroma? Did you already have the procedure?

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  3. You go girl! Love the video, I had breast cancer in 2009. I had a masectomy, chemo, radiotherapy, and a reconstruction. The entire thing does leave you bruised but mentally stronger. Keep the good work up X

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  4. I can not believe that the world has never heard of royal Raymond rife.please look him up on the internet.I also have a testimonial on his treatment.to think they would keep this technology from us all these years.he was a pioneer in advanced medicine.read his biography and tell me what you think.

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  5. I'm brca1 and thinking of getting a mastectomy in the next few months - hopefully as a preventive approach, since so far I don't have signs of breast cancer. Did, however have stage IIa ovarian. Are you going for reconstruction? If not, do you regret not getting reconstruction? Best of health to you.

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    1. I am doing reconstruction, but I've had some complications (radiation can be a beast). My understanding is that if you're doing it prophylactically, it goes much more smoothly. I would encourage you to look at all the photos you can, and research all the techniques. Best of luck!

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  6. I may not have a say here since I do not and have not had breast cancer, but my boobs do not define me, maybe it's more mental than that, but the pain you seem to be going through for the reconstruction hardly seems worth it. Have a beautiful tattoo done on your chest. Walk around topless and be proud of the beast you fought and slayed!!!

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    1. I just stumbled across this blog. Saw a funny T-shirt yesterday: "Yeah, they're fake...the real ones tried to kill me". Finished chemo last week and had a double mastectomy, one of them radical, in April. I, personally, don't wear my falsies because they're heavy and hot (and I even went down two sizes in the cup when I ordered them). But I can see why there was a need to put an implant in author of blog to fill a space: I wake up every morning with swelling in my right chest, as I sleep exclusively on my right side due to a back injury. I've had two sets of drains and was told that I'd have to wear an ace bandage wrapped around my chest forever. I couldn't breathe well so I quit wearing it. Even though I no longer have breasts and nipples, I don't think I'd ever feel comfortable walking around topless. Reconstruction is a personal choice, and just because someone gets reconstruction doesn't mean that they're interested in vanity only...there's also the matter of being off-balance, filling seromas, and of just wanting to be normal again.

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    2. Thanks for bringing this up, because I think it's important. I think before I had cancer, I would have felt the same as you.

      But there's an emotional part to it that's very complicated. I actually haven't found a way yet to completely express it. When I do, I'll post about it :) It's really personal and mixed up with so many feelings that it's hard for me to tease them out.

      I love that tshirt, btw!

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  7. Your video was beautiful. Thank you for sharing. I found it here: http://www.today.com/health/year-breast-cancer-one-minute-woman-films-fight-against-disease-8C11332194

    I have recently been trying to help raise money for my coworker because she was diagnosed for the 2nd time with breast cancer.
    To raise money, I asked people to donate to me and once I hit my target, I would shave my head. I had waist length hair.

    I donated my 2 foot pony tail to locks of love and handed the money over to my friend.

    Solidarity baby! Stay strong and stay positive! You can do this! You are doing this. Keep rocking this out! I am proud of you and know you are not alone.

    Thank you again.

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    1. P.s.
      If I lived near you, I would volunteer my breasts for you to compare the silicon to the saline to mine.
      I hope someone near you will do that. :)

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    2. What an awesome thing to do!! It's difficult to do something that is meaningful both symbolically and practically, but that really is perfect. You're an amazing friend! xoxo

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  8. Emily,

    You don't know me, in fact I have never blogged before...

    However, I was reading over your article on the "heath today" website and it cited your blog so I wanted to explore it...

    You deserve to be congratulated on your strength of character, tenacity, and selfless acts. To battle cancer and finish treatment successfully is truly heroic. However, to have the charitable nature and inner strength to chronicle your experiences throughout the process of treatment is truly inspirational. That in the depths of your own struggle you were thinking of others, well, you must be an extraordinary person.... I think one of the previous bloggers wrote it best: "you rock girl!"

    I wish you the best luck with your continued recovery.

    Sincerely,

    Andrew Emmerman

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  9. Girl!! We have a ton in common!! I was diagnosed in Nov of last year, had a double mastectomy, all right lymph nodes removed, chemo, herceptin and just had my final exchange of breast expanders to the jelly squish implants two weeks ago!! I'm a photographer and wanted to share my journey as well. Check it out if you want, vivalacure.org

    let's be breasties :)
    -Alyss

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    1. Your site is awesome! I love the magnets on your boobs!!!! so brilliant. How do you like your implants so far?

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  10. Emily: Found your blog while scrolling through this morning's news of the day. I lost my sister-in-law to a different type of cancer in March of this year. Our family is still reeling. She was treated at a top notch hospital in Philadelphia. Not once did her oncologists suggest a healthier diet or lifestyle change. She was required to meet with a nutritionist to design an eating plan that was compatible with chemo.

    Please check out: CrazySexyCancer -- a film produced and starring, Kris Carr. She was diagnosed with a rare cancer and her doctors didn't know how to treat it. The film is a success story, maybe it can help. I purchased this for my sister in law, but doubt that she even viewed it.

    All the best on your healing journey! Sending positive juju your way!

    Michele
    Here's a link:
    http://kriscarr.com/products/crazy-sexy-cancer/

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    1. I'm so sorry to hear about your sister-in-law.

      I think her experience of no nutritional counseling is very common. I heard somewhere that most doctors end up with something like one day covering nutrition in med school...and if they don't know about it, they don't think of it as an option. It's one of the instances when you really have to be your own advocate.

      CrazySexyCancer has been on my list for a while now...I will definitely pick up a copy!

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    2. You are so amazing and so strong. SO, I am going to badger you like a mother until you see that film ASAP! Kris beat an ultra-rare cancer. It makes me cry (with hope) everytime I view it. I'm pretty sure it's on Netflix or you can fish around online to find it for free.

      You are correct about lack of nutritional educ in med school. Sad.

      Kris had a great support system and tried everything in the book. It's a great story!

      Will check in with you again. xo.

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  11. Hi, there! I can offer a very unique perspective on the silicone vs. real-deal side by side comparison - I own one of each! (Well, kind of half of one of each... More on that later.)

    When I was 24, I underwent a unilateral nipple-sparing mastectomy to once and for all rid me of the fibrocystic breast disorder that was causing me tremendous pain and annoyance. One breast remained fully in tact, the other was replaced with a silicone implant. For awhile, they felt nearly identical. Silicone is a wondrous thing.

    After a year or so, the implant began to encapsulate and harden. After two years, I owned what was essentially a real, 28-year-old A-cup sad-sack of a breast and half of a racquetball. They did not feel the same anymore. I've since had a second reconstruction in which the surgeon enrobed the implant within my mastectomied-breast with a product called Alloderm. Alloderm is essentially a synthetic internal skin graft to prevent the body from encapsulating the implant. It's also made from harvested cells from cadavers. So, that's disgusting. While I was under, the doc was nice enough to "reconstruct for symmetry" and augmented my natural breast as well.

    Now I have a 90% silicone, 10% fake-skin breast and a 50% silicone, 50% breast-tissue breast. They feel pretty much exactly the same. Many of my silicone-only breast problems have been rectified as well - very sensitive to cold, odd shapes, etc. - by the addition of Alloderm. So, in conclusion - yes, they feel the same and dead bodies do great things.

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    1. Fascinating! You explained Alloderm so well, I didn't really understand what it was before. I'm going to see if it's an option for me. So are you pretty happy with the results now?

      I think you should consider putting "dead bodies do great things" on a tshirt and selling it to med students.

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  12. I just found your blog via a link on FB. I was diagnosed with stage 3, occult breast cancer in 2011. I had a right modified radical mastectomy, chemo, radiation and Herceptin. I'm now in the waiting for the switcheroo stage of my reconstruction. It was a long and shitty road but like you I made it out the other side a survivor. Now I struggle with remember who I was pre-cancer because I'm not that girl anymore.
    I documented my journey in my blog as well.
    Life Is What You Make It

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  13. I was diagnosed last July as well (the 3rd of July). Fireworks went off a day early. I am adjusting to my new normal, but quite happy to be here!

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  14. Bon courage Emily !

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  15. If you are getting breast implants you may be thinking about going for breast implants. You can konw about breast articles at: http://www.skindelhi.com/breast_implant_enlargement.html . and find out if that is a good idea for you or not.

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