Choosing to Delay Reconstruction

I took a break from posting about my breast cancer journey to share other topics that have been on my heart.  Now I am returning to my breast cancer journey so I can wrap it up.  I have a few more posts I would like to share with you from my experiences.

Last year as I was undergoing breast reconstruction, I made a decision that prolonged the process – I took the summer off.  Prolonging the process may sound counter-productive, but it was one of the best decisions I made for myself and my family. My reconstruction timeline had already been drawn out by necrosis.  The necrosis had delayed expansions, doubling the anticipated time between my mastectomy and reconstruction.

My family had been planning a huge summer vacation – a week at Disney World.  My new timeline put me square in reconstruction recovery during that trip, greatly limiting what I could do.  So I posed the question to my plastic surgeon – “Can I delay reconstruction until the fall?”  He had no issues with delaying.  He also agreed that if we stayed on our present path it would ruin our vacation.

After 8 months and four back-to-back surgeries I took a break. Those months had been dominated by breast cancer. Everything came down to dealing with and thinking about breast cancer and reconstruction.

I walked out of my plastic surgeon’s office with a weight lifted.  I had no idea how all-consuming breast cancer had been in my life until that weight was temporarily lifted. Without any impending surgeries or doctors’ appointments, I could focus on everyday life. On my family.

For months I had felt like I let my kids down. I hadn’t been there for them how I would have liked.  Taking the summer to focus on just being with them was what I needed.  My Breast Cancer was never terminal but going through a major medical ordeal gave me a whole new perspective and appreciation for every day.  Everyday moments.  Even just feeling healthy and normal.

That summer I felt normal and healthy again.  I wasn’t sick. I wasn’t weak. I wasn’t recovering from surgery.  I was present.  In the moment.  I felt like I had a little reminder just how precious and important life is.

Disney World was a dream vacation.  In many ways it was so much more than a family vacation.  It was a celebration of life.  A celebration of no limitations.  No surgeries.  No sick mom.

Our trip was a celebration of what we had been through as a family.  It had been taxing on everyone and we needed time to just enjoy being together. Carefree.  Happy.  Having fun together.

For the first time in months, I could hold my then 3-year old son.  I relished those moments.  For the first time in months, I could also submerge in water without the risk or worry of infection.  I swam & played with my family.  I cuddled.  I held.  I hugged.  I enjoyed.  Every.  Single.  Moment.

I didn’t need a lavish family vacation to do this, it just happened to work out that way.  I could have done all of that just in our everyday and I did.  All.  Summer.  Long.

Taking a break for the summer proved to be a wise decision.  It brought back some normalcy and joy in all our lives.  There were even days when I only thought about breast cancer or reconstruction a couple times.  It’s amazing how much something can consume you without even realizing it.   Taking a break brought that realization to a head. It allowed me, and my entire family, a much-needed break from the mental and emotional toll breast cancer had taken on us.