We met with the Plastic Surgeon yesterday, Dr. Jaco Festekjian at UCLA, who will be doing an immediate DIEP reconstruction during the mastectomy. He is a great doctor, awarded SuperDoctor last year. He is one of the few that specializes in microsurgery of breast reconstruction and he works closely with my breast surgeon.
DIEP flap (Deep Inferior Epigastric Perforator) This is the name of the main blood vessel that runs through the tissue that will be used to reconstruct the breast. In DIEP flap reconstruction, only skin, fat, and blood vessels are removed from the lower belly (the abdomen between the waist and hips). No muscle is removed. This is one of the main differences between the DIEP flap and the TRAM flap--the TRAM flap procedure removes muscle (along with fat, skin and blood vessels) and the DIEP procedure does not. (from www.breastcancer.org)
In other words, Im getting a tummy tuck to reconstruct. :) That's one good news for me. I say great news. (These post-pregnancy belly flaps will go to a better place and with a noble cause! LOL)
Dr. Festekjian inspected my tummy and said it can work. I can get a nice cup B. Not as much as I would wish it to be but hey, I'll be waking up with FOOBS (Fake Boobs) at least. (Any belly fat donors out there??) I don't have as much belly fat to reconstruct two foobs but he said when I gain weight, the foobs will grow too because the body doesn't know that these fats were just relocated, it thinks its still belly fats. Thats awesomely amazing!! Woohoo! Its amazing how God made our bodies.
Stage 1 will be a 10-12 hour surgery with mastectomy with 5-6 days hospital stay. I will be in ICU for a day or two to monitor that the flaps are alive because the blood vessels will just be re-attached. Recovery will be for 4 to 6 weeks.
Chemo will follow a few weeks after surgery. We don't have a schedule yet but I will be speaking with my breast surgeon this afternoon.
I was hoping for a nipple-sparing surgery but Dr. Festekjian said my breast surgeon may not allow it because the second tumor is very near the right nipple. So I might get a tattoo on the right and the left might be kept. I hope so.
Two to three months after surgery, I will go back for Stage 2 surgery, so the doctor can fix the symmetry and remove excess skin and tissues which will take about a week of recovery. Six weeks after will be Stage 3 surgery, nipple reconstruction. One month after is Stage 4, Areolar tattooing.
After the Plastic surgeon, I was referred to Dr. James Heaps, an oncology gynecologist, because I need to be monitored for Ovarian Cancer (due to BRCA gene mutation). My chance of having ovarian cancer is 44% before age 70. I will be checked every three months from hereon.
I was so blessed to be able to get a next-day appointment with Dr. Heaps, just because I was referred by the best surgeons that I have. I've researched about him and everyone only have great things to say about him. It takes about 4 months to get an appointment.
Dr. Heaps recommends that we consult with a fertility doctor to consider freezing of eggs, fertilize and freeze the embryo. With this, the embryo is considered to be from a 34 year old mother and we can implant later on after five years when I am done with treatments. He said the chances are slim to none of getting pregnant when I'm 39 and have undergone chemo and radiation. It is a very expensive procedure but at least we have an option. We are meeting with the fertility doctor, Dr. Mousa Shamonki at UCLA on Tuesday, March 15.
We have to do this option, if we want to, before I start chemo.
Last and definitely not the least news: my sister is coming on Monday all the way from Singapore to help us out while in recovery. Best sister in the whole wide world, period. :)
After all these news, I think its a very good day! Most especially because its Baby James second birthday today! :) I feel very blessed to be in the hands of GREAT doctors in America, Dr. Chang, Dr. Festekjian and Dr. Heaps. We will kick this cancer's a$$. :)