Preventive Mastectomy: Annual Checkups

Posted February 17, 2021 by Prairie Wife -

Note: Through my entire mastectomy journey, I have been sharing the REAL ups and downs of my experiences. My hope was to allow other women to educate themselves and make the choice that is best for them and their families. I want to emphasize that these are MY experiences and the choices that are best for me and my family. While my story is not what every woman on this journey has dealt with, it is the only thing that I can share. This post may not reflect the feelings of other women on this journey or even the doctors that work with them. As with all of our content, I encourage you to take what is helpful to you and leave the rest behind. Please feel free to use the comments to express your thoughts and share YOUR experiences.

It’s time for my annual checkups with the (amazing) team of doctors I worked with for my preventive mastectomy and reconstructive surgery.

Except I feel a bit guilty referring to it as an “annual” checkup…because it has actually been almost three years since I have seen any of these doctors.

I put off one year because frankly, I didn’t want to deal with the stress that these trips cause.

Yeah, I know, I KNOW!

Not smart.

I DID meet every three months, and then every six months more recently with a local oncologist here in Wyoming because of other health issues that we discovered in this process.

So I’m going to use those meetings and close inspections of my breasts and blood work as a way to ease my guilt over not keeping up on my annual checkups…okay?

I was already a year behind on checkups when 2020 hit and it was nearly impossible for me to try and get down to Denver with all the COVID restrictions.

So here we are.

I’m headed down for two days full of appointments tomorrow.

What’s the purpose of these annual checkups?

First and foremost, to make sure that all is well physically and structurally with my reconstructed breasts.

My surgeons will be checking to see how they look and feel, ask me questions about my lifestyle and if I have any unexpected pain or concerns.

I will also be having a mammogram, which is NOT usual.

Most women that have this surgery no longer have to have mammograms or MRI to check for Breast Cancer. But, this does vary from doctor to doctor.

I need to have one because…wait for it…despite having a mastectomy I am still making milk.

I mean, I AM from Wisconsin which is the dairy state 😉

You may be asking…um how?

I had a nipple-sparing mastectomy (which means I still have my nipples) and a certain small amount of tissue needs to be left to ensure that there is enough blood flow to the nipples that they don’t rot off.

Fun…

Anyway, my body is still using that tiny bit of tissue to produce milk and likely will until I hit menopause.

I think I was a wet nurse in another life.

My Denver oncologist wants me to have an annual mammogram just to be EXTRA sure we don’t miss anything.

And who am I to argue with that?

I will also be spending time meeting with my Denver oncologist and going over a bunch of stuff to make sure all is well.

As far as I know, that’s it.

I’ve had several surprises during these visits in the past so I am a bit apprehensive, but I know it won’t be anything I can’t handle with a little bit of #gritandgrace

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