Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Reconstruction Begins

I'm going to deviate from my last several posts to cover a very special topic: Nan.

As you may know, my childhood idol has gone through the trials, tribulations and the heart-wrenching process of having breast cancer. My sister is an amazing story all of her own and today, at the time I'm writing this, she's in surgery again, but this time instead of a mastectomy, my gorgeous sister is getting her breasts back. That's right, it's reconstruction time.

How many 44-year-old women do you know that would love to walk around with a bit more buoyancy up top? Well I guess, as usual, the line of jealous women standing behind Nan will grow just a bit longer as her kickin' curves are about to get a bit curvier, and eventually she'll get to wear what I've only dreamed of, backless shirts and dresses. But before the parade of new backless fashions goes into Nan's closet, she's got to go through the process of reconstruction. It's not going to be painless, actually it's quite the opposite; to be blunt, she's going to be sore for a while. But here's the upside, after finishing the process, she'll no longer have to worry about sagging, drooping or even have to worry about wearing a bra at all. As I like to term it, "Nan will be gravity-resistant." But however lucky Nan will seem to those of us still having to put on our bras every day, she's going to have to go through quite the ordeal to get there.

Breast reconstruction is not an easy process. Here's what I know so far:

The surgery that Nan is going through today is just the beginning. As I understand it, they are putting tissue expanders beneath her skin and pectoral muscle tissue, effectively beginning the process of making room in her chest for her new breast implants. It's going to take time for her body to change to fit everything, they just can't go in there right now and slap implants in, there's just no room, so today's surgery team is starting the whole process. As to the incisions the surgeons are making today, they are going through her mastectomy scars to do the work.

The expansion process is going to take a period of months. After they put in the tissue expanders (which are balloon-like receptacles), they are going to begin pumping saline into them to slowly expand the skin to allow room for her new implants. The doctor will fill the expander a little bit today, then Nan will have to wait as her skin and tissues stretch and change to the new dimensions. After she gets to a certain point, they'll go in and add more saline to the expander. On and on it goes over a period of months until her chest has reached the appropriate size to accommodate the new implants. Finally, she'll go in to surgery one more time and she'll come out with a new set of breasts.

So, today, Nan is under reconstruction. Personally, if you've ever seen my Nana, you know that, breasts or no breasts, she's fabulous inside and out, from head to toe, and beautiful in every single way someone can be beautiful. Her soul is even more beautiful with her unwavering kindness, love and generosity that she hands out like someone tossing beads from a Mardi Gras float. So sufficed to say, I love her just as she is boobs or no boobs, bald from chemo or with her flowing mane of gorgeous hair, bad mood or good, she's my Nan and I think she's perfect however she comes. But, she wants to be reconstructed and have her boobs back. Fine. If Nan wants them, then Nan gets them. She deserves every good thing this world has to offer and then some.

If you'd like to hear the story of someone else that's gone through the same process and get a better understanding of what I've tried to convey today, go to:

So for all of you keeping track of what's going on, the artistic surgeons are working on restoring one of the great works of our time, my big sister Nan. Cheer for her and please, keep her in your thoughts and send her all of the good vibes you can muster.

Again, one more time (and as Nan would insist I tell you), "Keep current with your mammograms!  Early detection saves lives."  I can attest to that, early detection saved Nan and however uncomfortable getting a mammogram may be, I'm grateful for those mammogram machines every day because they gave me more time with the greatest big sister in the world who subsequently married the guy who is world's most awesome big brother (in-law)!  (Sorry, gotta put in a cheer for Carl, he's the awesomest!  I love my big brother, he's just so dang cool!  That's right, be jealous...we've got Carl, you don't...pbbbbbbbt! lol.  Go Carl!  Go Carl!  Go Carl! hehehehehe.)  Both of them are so great!  As Dash in The Incredibles would say, "I love our family."

I'll be back with a follow-up post when I get back from seeing her in the hospital this afternoon.

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