Previous LBBC blog contributor Jennifer Yong, 33 was diagnosed with Stage IIB Breast Cancer in 2011. She underwent a left-side mastectomy in June of 2012 and removed her right breast in June of 2013. She is currently awaiting full reconstruction surgery. Here is her story…
The last time I had surgery was last summer when I had my left cancerous breast removed. I made a decision early in my diagnosis that if I tested positive for the BRCA gene, I would go ahead and remove my right breast and just be done with it. I definitely never wanted to go through chemo and radiation ever again. As time went on, my left side healed and eventually I got used to all the little scars I had but I was anxious and ready to move forward with the new surgery and get the reconstruction started.
At first my surgery was supposed to happen in April or May of this year but because of radiation and my skin healing and also doing numerous fills on my left breast, the surgery was pushed to June- which I was kind of upset about since it was the summer time and I wanted to be able to at least show off my new body but that wasn’t in the cards just yet. I was getting so frustrated that the whole process was taking so long and I was tired of feeling constantly lopsided from one breast being bigger than the other and that wearing bras still couldn’t hide my discomfort or my non-proportional body anymore. It was time to take the sucker out!
But the next thing you know- bam! It was the night before the surgery. I remember I wasn’t really nervous or too anxious I just wanted to get it over with. Not having anything to drink or eat after midnight was killing me more than the thought of surgery itself since I was always dehydrated from my meds. But I pushed on.
The morning of my surgery, my mom came with me and she gave me some comfort and stayed the entire day until the procedure was over. I had a great team of doctors. Dr. Lee was my plastic surgeon and Dr. Houlihan was my breast surgeon. Together, they gave me piece of mind that I was making the right decision and that this would be a better outcome in the end. The funny thing is I really had no attachment to my boobs throughout my breast cancer experience. I was always insecure about my breasts and to put a positive spin on things, I saw this as an opportunity to change my size and feel more confident about my body. I quietly said goodbye to my little right boob that I’ve had for 33 years and drifted into a lull of sleep.
When I woke up hours later, the same pain had returned but it wasn’t as bad as my first surgery-I got sick from the anesthesia the last time and was vomiting as soon as I woke up and I could barely move but this time they put an anti-nausea patch behind my ear and I was able to keep down liquid. The pangs of nausea came and went and I felt that familiar pinch from the drain poking out from my lovely ugly patterned hospital nightgown. I spent 2 nights in the hospital and then my dad came to pick me up.
Recovering has been pretty tough. The drain caused me to be nauseous and winded for long periods of time and it was hard to really move around for the first week. That, mixed in with the hot flashes from the tamoxifen, made me pretty uncomfortable- but I have a great support of wonderful friends and family and a great boyfriend who has helped me heal and move forward so it has been a little easier.
The best part is being able to heal without wearing that ugly hospital gown!
Jen is a graduate of Emerson College in Boston, MA with a BA in Visual Arts (and is still looking for a full time job!) She loves good jazz, hip hop, art in all forms, being crafty, eating good food and she’s am glued to random makeover and reality shows on t.v. You can follow her blog here.