Did you know there are different types of mastectomy, depending on the type of cancer? Neither did I till a few weeks ago, but obviously I’ve been on a steep learning curve since then.
I had hoped to be eligible for the least invasive kind which is ‘nipple sparing’. As it suggests, the fat and tissue is scooped out and the skin and nipple is left intact. Basically, the prosthesis is inserted under the skin and the end result looks pretty realistic. This is what Angelina had.
However the MRI has revealed my cancer extends to my nipple, which means it cannot be spared without a risk of cells remaining. They can use the skin of the breast, though.
Bombshell #43: I not only get fake boobs, I get fake nipples.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, whilst Doctor Moko explained how fake nipples are made, I had another out of body experience. “Cut into three… pull up and twist into a nubbin….then a tatooist…the ‘areola’ is gradiated…highly skilled.”
She paused. “How do you feel?”
Like shit. I feel like shit. I looked over to Ted. His eyes are misting. Wordlessly, Dr Moko takes her tissue box and places it between us.
“I can’t believe we’re having this conversation.” he says to no-one. “Does she have to have the right nipple removed, too?”
“I recommend she does. I won’t be able to achieve symmetry otherwise.”
Next some before and after photos. “This patient is your age.”
“That looks good!” Ted and I look surprised.
“Well, that’s when the nipple has been spared.” She’s made a cruel but undoubtedly unintentional mistake. “This is more what you can expect.”
I start crying again. It looks…okay. But weird, for sure.
Next, the paperwork. Reams and reams of it. “Do you understand? Sign here. And here. Now we will require payment before.” A snort of disappointment at the cost. Yes Doctor. No Doctor. Thank you. See you Monday.
We drove home. I wanted to drive so Ted sat in the back to look after a fractious Theo. He had a hand on the capsule and one on my neck. I ate a Snickers. Probably won’t be able to eat one again for years.
“He’s sicked up again.”
A dusky layby. Mopping down the baby. He’s seriously cranky for the rest of the drive home, which is fortunately not far.
Back home to granny and the girls, who are full of stories of their day. We’re thrust back in to the bath and bed routine, including the roller coaster of laughter and angst. Finally Ted and I collapse on the new couch and chat and start to unwind the tiniest bit before Theo starts up again.
More than a flash of Irritation. Ted goes in. Theo is screaming, then silence. “Sam, come here.”
He’s calling me Sam? He’s worried.
Vomit is pouring out of Theo’s mouth like lava. So much vomit, silently streaming. We’re both staring in amazement before remembering to tip him forward. He coughs, violently, then lets out an exhausted moan.
Ted cleans the bedding and clothes. I clean Theo, he is tired but lets out a small smile of relief, then he looks puzzled – why his mum is letting out such loud sobs?
Nipples, no nipples… who cares? Long admission forms… who gives a fuck? At least they’re not for here.