Revisions and Revisiting Previvor's Guilt

Every survey you take or study you participate in surrounding BRCA will ask you how often your thoughts go to cancer, to your surgery, to not-great thoughts.

Part of me knows that 90% of my day is otherwise occupied. At least 90% of all the days. But those 10% of days and 10% of every day, it doesn’t go away.

For me, the 10% of every day is looking in the mirror. I know I’m lucky to know. I know the body I had before my mastectomy was just as flawed. I know I didn’t have a perfectly matched set 18 months ago.
2016: Just after my original mastectomy
But it’s hard not to be a little pissed that my body is still betraying me. About 6 months after my original surgery, I developed capsular contracture in my left implant. It was not only physically different but also painful. My surgeon swapped the implants, but it still has not settled. We tried medication, which has softened it, but the right still sits lower. One moves and molds like a natural breast. One doesn’t move much at all. (If you want to see, I've edited this photo.)

Apparently, I’m the 1% who deals with this. My plastic surgeon rarely sees it. And when he does, the initial revision should have fixed it. I’m definitely ruining his averages.


So we try again. We persist. I’m too young to be unhappy. I’m too active to be uncomfortable in my own skin. These are also things I know, but it doesn’t stop me from feeling vain.

2018: Post-revision #2
When tragedy strikes, the survivors wrestle with the why me of still being around when friends, family and the unknown other people are gone. As a previvor, you feel that in missing those that are gone but also in seeing what survivors live through and with. Whether said outright or put on ourselves, there’s a guilt in not having gone through chemo or having the choice of surgeons or procedure, the “gift” of time to make these decisions.

And in choosing to have another surgery when it’s not a necessity to staying alive.

But, being 24 hours out from my second revision, I am hopeful. Being in the same hospital I was 18 months ago and remembering those feelings of the initial mastectomy, I felt more at peace with my decision. My surgeon was determined to fix the capsular contracture and it already feels softer. The rest of me is sore as can be (fat helps soften the scar tissue, so he also grafted some from my abdomen into my foobs).

Guilty as I may feel at times, I would tell any other previvor (or survivor) that we made proactive choices to live longer and that life should not be lived with discomfort – either physical or mental. So I’m glad I could take my own advice and I hope it’s the last time I have to do so ... at least for a good decade or so.


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