Waiting for Savasana

Chemo is Drawing Closer and Life with Tissue Expanders


I am trying not to be scared. Just doing a lot of research. So the plan for now is that I will do four rounds of Adriamycin and Cytoxan, each round will be administered 2 weeks apart from the next. Then I will do four rounds of Taxol also administered every 2 weeks. This makes 16 weeks of chemo.
My understanding is to expect “flu like symptoms” also possible mouth sores. possible nausea, definite hair loss, bone pain, muscle aches and more!
I have spent a great deal of time researching the best ways to combat the nasty side effects. Somehow the research brings me comfort. I can not control what is happening but I can control my knowledge of it and I can advocate for myself. At this point, it is really all I have.
I read that if I view the chemo as what it is, medicine that can kill whatever remaining cancer is lurking around, than I may have a better time of it that if I look at chemo as a poison that is going to hurt me. That makes sense. Because really, chemo and radiation is all I’ve got at this point to assure there is no recurrence. It’s all about your attitude , right?
I found this to be true of the surgery. I mean really, in the grand scheme of things, losing my breasts was a no brainer. I wanted the cancer out. Period.
While I have had pain, it has been manageable.
I think it would have been a much harder surgery if I was concerned about my chest. This is not a judgement of those who ARE concerned about losing their breasts. I think I’m just lucky in that I have personally never been crazy about my own. I spent most of my life flat chested, barely on the A-team. I graduated to a B after having children but they never impressed me. I like the idea of rebuilding.
If I was actually attached to my breasts, I would have been devastated to lose them. Hey, I love my hair and my eyelashes and I am freaking out totally about losing them! For me, getting the cancer out trumped any feelings of loss I had for the girls. I just never liked them anyway. Good riddance.
For those who do not know, I opted to have skin sparring surgery with tissue expanders placed. My plastic surgeon originally placed them filled with 100cc’s of saline in them. He will be filling them weekly with more saline until they are a size we like.
100 cc’s of saline is not much to begin with. I emerged from surgery completely flat chested. I asked my husband if maybe the plastic surgeon forgot to put in the expanders! I felt like I was ten years old but that’s ok because I really liked being ten years old. It was fine.
I had my first fill last week. It was strange. The doctor inserted a needle on both sides with a syringe of 50 cc’s of saline on each side. Then he and his nurse counted to three and simultaneously filled both sides together.
Now I look like I’m 11.
I had another fill today of another 50 cc’s and now I am definitely looking 12.
My husband wondered why they had to be placed under the muscle and the reality is that without breast tissue, skin alone cannot support an implant.
I will have the tissue expanders for quite some time and go in for weekly fill that will stretch the muscle and then eventually I will have another surgery to trade out for implants.
How do the tissue expanders feel? Weird. Tight. Like I am wearing a bra all the time when I have not worn one since before surgery. Sometimes painful but, for me, not majorly painful. It’s kind of like getting your braces tightened when you’re a kid.
A lot of people have issues with the expanders. I can see why, they are not the most comfortable things. But they are kind of cool and I am grateful for them.
I am ok being flat chested. I spent most of my life flat chested until I had children. But it’s kind of cool, this process for getting the breasts that I always wanted but was always too modest to really complain about.
Beauty is pain sometimes.
Funny, my youngest has made some comments about my flat chestedness (which are quickly redirected or shut down) but he had a close, personal relationship with my breasts for the first two years of his life so I kind of understand his confusion.
This whole thing is surreal.
Thank you for following me on this very strange journey. Stay tuned for more fun posts about my upcoming, EKG, “Chemo Teach” and port placement. Sounds fun, no?
Yeah, I don’t think so either.


2 thoughts on “Chemo is Drawing Closer and Life with Tissue Expanders

  1. Hi,
    I am going thru the exact same thing and same treatment regimen. Your positive attitude is inspiring. I was wondering about the expanders…. I just got my first injection and it feels sooooooo tight I can feel my heart beating against my chest wall. I feel like I’m taking short breaths and feel a bit dizzy???? My concern is if I get sick with chemo, I start next week, I just can’t imagine throwing up with my chest so tight and my incisions still very tender? Any comments?

    • Well…to be honest, Lorazepam or Ativan were good at relaxing those tight muscles. It is also good for nausea too. It is a wonder drug that got me through chemo. If you do not have any yet, ask your oncologist to prescribe some for you.
      I actually only threw up once during chemo but I felt nauseous a lot of the time. Make sure you have good support meds and take them as prescribed. It is important to stay ahead of the nausea. I slept through a dose of anti-nausea meds and paid for it at 3am.
      And beware of Zofran, it is highly constipation. I did ok with Ativan and fenergan but every oncologist is different.
      Good luck and I am so sorry you have to go through this.

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