I never thought I’d elect to have surgery after going under the knife for the removal of a cancerous tumor that somehow lodged itself in the tissue of my left breast. Surgery is bad enough when it’s medically necessary. It seems silly then to choose to submit to general anesthesia and all that follows, like the slicing and sewing of skin and muscle, the pain, the recovery, and the potential for complications. Yet I’m considering it. I’m more than considering it, actually. I have a surgery date—April 23—and one week from today, I am scheduled for a pre-op appointment that will seal the deal. I have 7 days then to determine whether I’ll keep or cancel this appointment. I’m leaning toward keeping it.
Seven years ago, I had a baby boy. He weighed 10 pounds, 9 ounces. Almost five years ago, I had another baby boy. He weighed 10 pounds, 2 ounces. I gained 50 pounds and then 42 pounds with these monster guys, and all these years later, I’m left with loose, sagging stomach skin and a separated muscle underneath. I’ve tried all I can to get rid of these battle scars. During the past year, I really kicked my efforts into high gear. Motivated by the urge to prevent a cancer recurrence, I overhauled my diet—no soda, no sweets, no red meat, plus low fats, calories, and sugars—and began exercising more vigorously than ever. My results have been grand. My heart is strong, my energy is high, and my weight is down 15 pounds. Still, my tummy skin remains. It’s worse really. The less fat I have, the more the skin hangs. I want it to go away.
No amount of diet or exercise will fix my problem. But a tummy tuck will. So that’s what I’m pursuing. Some think I’m crazy, selfish even—a few years ago, while in the throes of cancer treatment, I would have, too—and some think I deserve it. Here’s what I think: I want to feel comfortable in my skin and in my clothes. Right now, I don’t.
If all goes according to plan, a surgeon—a guy who happens to specialize in breast cancer reconstruction using tummy-tuck skin—will remove a football-shaped chuck of skin from my abdomen. He will repair and reshape my muscle, reposition my belly button, fix an umbilical hernia—yep, I’ve got one of those, too—and then sew me back up. This outpatient surgery will cost me a few hours in recovery, 10-12 days of difficulty at home, 6 weeks of healing, and a few thousand dollars—no insurance help for this cosmetic procedure. The more I think about it—the good, the bad, the unknown—the more I want this tummy tuck. Even after breast cancer. Maybe because of breast cancer. I want to feel the best I can possibly feel—on the inside and out. I’ve done all I can do on my own. I consider this my finishing touch.