Tuesday, October 19, 2004
Reality....Not Reality TV
When I first began this blog it was my intention to share every aspect of this journey so that people would have the opportunity to truly understand it from every aspect. I have not held back at all. It has taken me awhile to become comfortable with posting this information because it is very personal. I needed the time to feel comfortable and confident with my choices before going public.

A few weeks ago I promised I would share information about my upcoming surgery and reconstruction. So many factors had to be considered in making a final decision including age, type of cancer, stage, quality of life, family history and other risk factors. I have now consulted with four physicians who all agreed this was the best and most reasonable procedure for me. I also did a ton of research and then even some soul searching. Each person going through breast cancer needs to determine the best course of action for herself. If you are faced with this same dilemma, please talk to several doctors from different hospitals and gather as much information as possible so you can make an informed decision that you can live with for the rest of your life.

The first week of December I have been scheduled for a bilateral mastectomy with reconstruction at Loma Linda University Medical Center. The mastectomies will be done by a surgical oncologist. In conjunction with this process, a plastic surgeon will begin the two-stage breast reconstruction process by inserting tissue expanders under the chest muscles. The second stage will follow in about six months and will include replacing the expanders with the permanent implants. Additionally, nipple reconstruction will be completed in about one year.

Does anyone else have a distorted understanding of breast augmentation from reality TV? I had a very simplistic idea that I would go in with my own set in tact and leave with the implants in one surgical procedure. First I have the two doctors working in tandem for the first surgery. Then I will have about four office visits where the doctor will add fluid to fill the expanders to the desired size. Once they are filled, then I will have surgery to remove the expanders and replace them with the implants. Once all residual swelling is gone (in about six months), I will have the nipple reconstruction completed (the "cherry on the sundae" as I like to call it). It is a long process and I will be glad when it is over and I can put this all behind me. In the meantime, it is just one step at a time.

Before any of this happens, I still have two more treatments. Where has the time gone? Feel free to keep the happy thoughts and prayers flowing and send over any spare Motrin you might have around the house! Just think, after this week, only one more left! Your support, prayers, good thoughts, and compassion have carried me through this. Remember, this is still breast cancer awareness month. Armed with your knowledge of breast cancer and the importance of early detection, go out and make a difference in the world.
Written by Jeannette Vagnozzi
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Name: Jeannette
Location: Southern California, USA

This is my story about being diagnosed with breast cancer at age 39. I thought I was out of the woods, but four years late it came back. This is my quest to be a two-time survivor.

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