Original posting date February 27, 2020
Since BRCA2 can cause ovarian cancer, and because there aren’t great methods to catch ovarian cancer early enough, the current recommendation is to have both ovaries and Fallopian tubes removed. Some say to have it done by 45, by 40, or when done having children.
Amy is only 37 but she is done having children so she decided to go ahead and schedule the surgery. she would have only her ovaries and Fallopian tubes out so this is called Bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy, also known as a BSO. It was going to be done laparoscopically, with robotic assistance. Sounds cool, but she was terrified. Amy told me that she has been afraid of going under general anesthesia her whole life. Like many she is has always been afraid that she would be able to feel everything, but unable to talk or do anything about it.
That entire summer long Amy tried to mentally prepare for her upcoming surgery. The big day came and she remained calm all through prep she advised she was doing fine up until the doctor came to check on her in pre-op. At that point she gave in to the emotions just under the surface. She started crying about how scared I was. With the help of the anesthesiologist who was reassuring and friendly and she said she finally felt ready.
They took her into the OR, where she moved of her own accord onto the operating table, and laid down. She smiled and told me the last thing she remembered until waking up in recovery was “wow, there are a lot of people in here.”
After a few days of laying around and watching Netflix, Amy felt almost like herself again. Her incisions were healing nicely, and she had no complications. It was decided then that she wanted to move forward with mastectomy. After researching her options, she decided that she want to chose the least invasive, least-likely to have complications or follow-up surgeries, and that means she would be going totally flat. This is called a flat closure mastectomy. Surgery was set for November 20th.
Surgery went smoothly for Amy and recovery so far is not as bad as she had expected. With wide eyes she did tell me that she did almost pass out when the doc removed the bandages the morning after surgery! The scars were longer than she thought they would be, going all the way into her armpits. The worst part for Amy was the drains even though she knew she would have them, she said she had no idea how long they would be, they went from the middle of her ribs, up over the top of the chest and into each armpit. And the fluid they collected had to be emptied, measured, and recorded twice a day!
Only 21 hours after surgery Amy was released from the hospital. By day 6, she was healing well enough to get the drains out. After the removal was complete Amy went home with her husband and had a cry. Part of it was physical pain, but there was also mourning. She was confident that she made the right choice, but it was still hard to see. On day 10, she said she turned a corner and started to feel like herself again.
She was able to lift her arms over shoulder height and put on pull-over shirts! On day 13, she treated herself to a massage and had the stitches and staples removed. And on day 14, she got to see the wonderful Ash and document this step in my journey through photos. Below is one of those photos.
Amy you look so confident and comfortable in your skin. You are such a strong individual to make the choices you have.