My Breast Reconstruction Journey

A Story By Kirstin Kallini

We’re spotlighting Kirstin’s story as a poignant reminder of the significance of self-care (and self-advocation) for breast health.⁣

From Radiation to Reconstruction

After radiation you wait a little before reconstruction. For reconstruction since it was far enough past the main waves of covid, my husband was able to come with me.

I did a deep flap surgery for my reconstruction, which moves fat from my lower abdominal area up to create very natural looking breasts. I liked that it wouldn't give my body the opportunity to reject anything like with implants. While I would joke about the silver linings of my cancer and getting to have a tummy tuck and new boobs, I knew deep flap was a scary surgery so I did not look into it much ahead of time so I wouldn't back out.

Post Breast Reconstruction

The reconstruction hasn't been a perfect journey. I was "lucky" in the placement of my tumor that they had clean margins for the reconstruction. However, my left breast which was radiated on will remain perky, essentially frozen in time from radiation, while my right breast will age naturally with gravity. I have also been getting some areas of necrosis (dead tissue) which is painful. Otherwise, I no longer have feeling in any of my breast tissue on either side. Because of this, I can no longer wear bras with wires for safety reasons. The mastectomy took out all the nerve endings on my breast skin.

Coming to Terms with My Breast Reconstruction

I got nipples tattooed on my new boobs where my nipples should be, but the first tattoo didn't come out right so I got them tattooed again. (On the plus side, no nerve endings in my breasts means the tattoos don't hurt).

I never really thought about NOT getting reconstruction until about a year into my breast cancer journey when I started to wonder why I’d decided that was necessary. I did like that it would make me look more "normal" so it would be my choice if I want to talk about my battle with cancer or not. Whereas if I didn't have breasts, people might ask me about it.

*Remember to perform your at home breast examination at least once per month to monitor any changes or abnormalities. Check with your doctor if any unusual changes to your breasts occur.

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