Warning this will be one of those candid post-mastectomy posts.
This week I went to the dentist and the dermatologist. A couple of things happened in my breast-free existence.
My dental "what has changed in the last year form" had boxes for Radiation, Chemotherapy, Plastic Surgery and Taking Medications Regularly. It felt GREAT to not check any of these boxes. My other treatment options would have had me checking two to three of these boxes.
In my dermatology exam, I stripped down to my underwear wearing one of those lovely paper blue gowns. Before the doctor started looking at my chest, I warned her that I had a mastectomy earlier in the year. Her first question was "Who did your plastics?" My response was "No one, I did not do reconstruction." I found it particularly interesting that her first reflex was to inquire about plastics - not a zillion other things she could have asked about ...
I do, of course, have a couple pre-cancerous spots on my forehead. The forehead again - good grief. (Last Summer I had two Mohs procedures on my forehead Bag of Peas to the Rescue and The Vulcan Brow) The dermatologist gave me an Rx for some cream that will take them off - she says wait until September when cooler because the scabbing is awful. Good thing I kept those bangs.
The other comments by my dermatologist were about my dog ear and my nicely healing scars. A post-mastectomy dog ear is an extra bit of skin that protrudes. Usually they are near your armpits but I have a small one almost in the middle of my chest. Last April at my follow up visit with the breast surgeon, the surgeon mentioned removing this extra skin flap. My next appointment is in September so we will see. In January, I envisioned coming out completely flat but along with the dog ear is extra tissue under each of my arms. The result is a more lumpy look.
Could any of this have been prevented? Maybe. My research tells me that a longer cut (and resulting scar) under my arm could prevent the underarm excess. The breast cancer boards show some women have no dog ears and some do. Here is what I think. My surgeon (who is excellent) was focused on making sure I was cancer free which was the first priority. I believe so few women go breast-free that procedures for creating a smooth chest are not common. There is much more research placed on all the various routes to reconstruction. Or maybe ... my body just responded this way ... who knows ...
The final reflection is I was not embarrassed or worried or anxious about the dermatologist seeing my scarred, breast-free chest. I have actually bared myself to a few friends as well. It is good. Each time I share this part of me, I realize how far my healing has come - physically and emotionally.