My SGAP Reconstruction Surgery Journey As A Mother Of Young Children

My SGAP Reconstruction Surgery Journey As A Mother Of Young Children

Healing at the Center for Restorative Breast Surgery

As a busy mother of three young children, I thought I was healthy until a breast cancer diagnosis at 41 turned my world upside down. After a mastectomy and chemotherapy, I found the courage to embark on breast reconstruction. This journey was tough for my entire family, but I felt compelled to share my experiences. Through my blog, www.mycancerdiaries.com, I aim to support and inspire other women, reminding them they are never alone and can find strength in their battles.

Embarking on the journey of breast reconstruction surgery took tremendous courage and strength. I made the empowering choice to undergo this transformative procedure, and it was the best decision I have ever made. If you’re considering breast reconstruction, I encourage you to explore your options and gather all the information you need to make a confident and informed decision. As a mother of young children, I know firsthand the challenges of balancing healing with parenthood, but with the right support system and careful planning, it is possible to prioritize self-care and achieve a sense of wholeness. The team at The Center for Restorative Breast Surgery provided exceptional care, and I hope sharing my experience will inspire and guide other women and mothers facing similar decisions.

Understanding the SGAP Reconstruction Surgery

SGAP (Superior gluteal artery perforator) reconstruction surgery is a type of breast reconstruction that uses tissue from the upper buttocks to create a new breast. This method is ideal for women who have had previous abdominal surgeries or lack sufficient abdominal tissue. The picture was taken only a few days after my surgery. SGAP surgery is often performed in several phases to ensure optimal results. Unfortunately, SGAP is not commonly offered by plastic surgeons. Thinner women or women who had previous abdominal surgeries are often led to believe that their only option for breast reconstruction is implants. Several plastic surgeons in my home state and out of state kept telling me that there was “no way” I could use my tissue. Then, I thankfully found The Center for Restorative Breast Surgery, a premier Breast Center in the United States where advanced breast reconstruction procedures with natural tissue are performed regularly.

Why I chose SGAP Surgery and the Center for Restorative Breast Surgery

Throughout my diagnosis journey, I sought out the stories of other survivors. While I faced frustrating setbacks in pursuing reconstruction with my own tissue, I refused to give up and explored all options. The women I connected with were eager to share their experiences – some opted for implants, others used their own tissue, and some chose to forego reconstruction altogether. These conversations confirmed my decision to use my own tissue and avoid implants.

As I continued my research, I learned that choosing a highly skilled microsurgeon was key to achieving the best possible outcome and preserving my body image. Ultimately, after consulting with Dr. Scott Sullivan and Dr. Karl Ordoyne at the esteemed Center, I confidently chose SGAP reconstruction surgery. While it required travel and a longer recovery time, the results were worth it – a natural look and feel while maintaining muscle function and improving lymphedema.

I’ve put together a guide to the pros and cons of different reconstruction options, which you can find here. And if you’re interested in learning more about my journey and the steps I took to make an informed decision, check out my video here. Remember – no matter what path you choose, there is always hope and support available.

How I Prepared for My Surgery Day

For my reconstruction surgery, I traveled across the country to New Orleans for my first phase, staying for ten days. After my 9-hour surgery, I stayed in the hospital for three nights and then at the Hope Lodge for seven days until my post-op. The Hope Lodge is funded by the American Cancer Society and provides a free home away from home for cancer patients and their caregivers. Preparing for SGAP surgery involved not only my personal readiness but also ensuring my family’s needs were met.

Here’s how I prepared:

Organizing Support


I reached out to my family and friends for help. They stepped in to assist with childcare, meals, and household chores during my recovery. This support was crucial for maintaining a stable environment for my children.

Preparing the Home


Creating a comfortable recovery space at home was vital. I gathered essentials, easy-to-wear clothing, and entertainment options to keep me occupied during downtime. Additionally, I stocked up on groceries and prepared meals in advance to ease daily routines.

Talking to My Children


Explaining the upcoming surgery to my young children in an age-appropriate way was important. I assured them that I would be okay and that we had lots of help to take care of them while I recovered. Their understanding and cooperation were vital to our family’s smooth transition.

For more detailed tips on how to prepare for your breast reconstruction, check out my guide here.

When I look in the mirror today, I see a beautiful body that has overcome the challenges of breast cancer. It’s amazing to think that despite being told implants were my only option, I found the strength to choose a more empowering path.

Claudia

My SGAP experience at the St. Charles Surgical Hospital

On the day of my surgery, I felt a mixture of emotions, but I had confidence that I was in the best care possible with the team at the Center for Restorative Breast Surgery. They provided compassionate and expert care throughout my nine-hour procedure, going above and beyond. During my recovery in their exceptional 37-bed hospital designed specifically for mastectomy and reconstruction patients, I received extraordinary care from a dedicated team of professionals. They monitored my blood flow to my flaps with Doppler monitors, and I was fortunate to have a private room with a comfortable Murphy bed for my husband. I was amazed when the nurses encouraged me to walk the next day, and they provided me with essential guidance on pain management and showering.

Recovery: Balancing Parenthood and Healing

The recovery period was challenging, especially with young children. Here’s how I managed to balance healing with motherhood:



Physical Recovery


The first three weeks post-surgery were rough. But I made progress every day, even if it felt slow. Despite swelling and fatigue, I never gave up. By following my doctor’s advice on medications and incorporating gentle activities like deep breathing and meditation, I was able to manage the discomfort.



Although there were a few bumps in the road, the support and empathy from the Center for Restorative Breast Surgery team made all the difference. Gradually, I began physical therapy, which played a crucial role in regaining my strength and mobility. By the 12-week mark, I started going back to the gym, slowly regaining flexibility and rebuilding my strength. Now, three months out, I feel great and have fully regained my strength and mobility. The journey was challenging, but the results have been incredibly rewarding.



Emotional Support


Emotionally, the journey was a rollercoaster, filled with highs and lows that tested my resilience. Having a strong support system was invaluable during this time. My partner, family, and friends were my anchors, providing the encouragement and assistance I needed to stay positive and keep moving forward. Their unwavering support reminded me that I wasn’t alone in this journey.



Connecting with other patients who had their surgeries at the Center for Restorative Breast Surgery was also incredibly comforting. Sharing experiences and hearing their stories provided a sense of camaraderie and understanding that was truly healing. These connections, both personal and communal, were crucial in navigating the emotional complexities of my recovery. They provided a sense of belonging and hope, reinforcing that together, we could overcome any obstacle.

Practical Tips for Recovery

  1. Prioritize Rest: Accept that you need to rest and heal. Don’t hesitate to rely on your support network for help with childcare and household duties.
  2. Involve Your Kids: Depending on their age, involve your children in simple, safe tasks to help them feel included and understand that mommy is healing.
  3. Establish a Routine: Maintain a routine for your children with the help of family and friends. This stability can be comforting for both you and your kids.

Advice for Other Mothers Considering SGAP Reconstruction:

If you are considering SGAP reconstruction surgery, here are some tips based on my experience:

  1. Make an informed decision on your reconstruction. To learn more, check out my 6 tips to navigate your reconstruction here.
  2. Build a strong support network: Having reliable help is essential. Don’t be afraid to ask for assistance.
  3. Prepare your children: Talk to your children about the surgery in an age-appropriate way. Reassure them and explain how things will work during your recovery.
  4. Plan ahead: Prepare your home and daily routines in advance to ensure a smoother recovery period.
  5. Take care of yourself: Remember, healing is important for your well-being and your ability to care for your children.

Conclusion

My SGAP reconstruction surgery at the Center for Restorative Breast Surgery was an empowering journey that transformed me both physically and mentally. Despite facing the challenges of recovery with young children at home, I persevered with resilience and the support of loved ones. If you’re currently contemplating a similar decision, know that you are capable of facing this challenge head-on. Take it one step at a time, trust in your support network, and focus on your healing and transformation.

Today, when I look in the mirror, I see a beautiful body that’s a source of strength and inspiration, one that reminds me of my courage and perseverance and no longer of breast cancer. Thanks to the expertise of the Center for Restorative Breast Surgery, I have achieved a breast size that perfectly complements my natural physique while keeping my muscles intact.

If you are looking for more helpful tips and inspiration on how to navigate breast cancer,  read my blog here www.mycancerdiaries.com and connect with me on Instagram here @my_ cancerdiaries. Together we are stronger! 

– Claudia