Chemo was over and although there were lingering side effects, I was slowly beginning to feel like myself again. However, my doctor visits hadn’t slowed down. I spent weeks going between my surgeon, oncologist, cardiologist and plastic surgeon. Yep, plastic surgeon.
I was going to lose my breasts, but I would be getting a new set which wasn’t bad I guess. All my doctors had recommended that I undergo reconstruction after my mastectomy because it was the most logical route for a “woman of my age.”
During my visit at the plastic surgeon’s office, my mother and I were given a book of pictures to flip through to see what the Dr had done for patients in my position. Flipping through the pages of women who had undergone the procedure made me feel more at ease and not so alone.
This didn’t feel real. Was this really happening? To have someone ask you whether or not you wish to keep your nipples and have to make the decision to give up both breasts because cancer was found in one was alot to take in. It was a lot to think about.
What happens once my breasts are gone? How long is the reconstruction process? How long will it take to recover?
There were so many questions running through my mind as I flipped through the pictures. The plastic surgeon explained that reconstruction would begin the same day as my surgery. He told me that he would be placing tissue expanders to begin preparing for the final phase of reconstruction, which would be the implants.
I felt like I was on one of those makeover shows as he handed me the shiny silicone implants. I fumbled with them awkwardly and fought the urge to snap a selfie with the silicone. He asked me how large I wanted to be and I looked at him and frowned. I guess I hadn’t really given much thought about my replacement boobs as I was still wrapping my head around losing the ones I was born with.
Well about a week passed and I received the call.
Nurse: ” Hi, is this Monisha?
Me: ” Yes, I guess I have a date?”
Nurse: ” Yes ma’m. We have coordinated the surgeons’ schedules and we have you down for Friday, May 8th. Does that work for you?”
In my head I was thinking NO, no that doesn’t work. I mean how does someone prepare to go through something like this? You just…well you just go through it I guess.
Nurse: ” Monisha, are you there?”
Me: ” I’m sorry, um, May 8th is fine.”
Nurse: ” Great. I’ll send your surgery packet in the mail and we will be in touch to get you all the details of your surgery. Have a great day.”
Well. It was happening. Whether I was ready or not, it was happening on May 8th.
I've always believed that we tend to be the most effective in areas where we have been the most affected. It's often our deepest pains that draw us closer to our purpose. Those words never really hit home until I was diagnosed with stage 2 breast cancer at the age of 28. I had watched both my mother and grandmother battle the disease, but never thought I would find myself in the same battle, especially not so young. I've learned through this journey that it's not what you go through, but how you go through it. I wanted to share my story in hopes that it will inspire someone to keep fighting, keep the faith and live on purpose.