I figured my body had finished its healing from the physical fight and recovery of 2020 and 2021.
Then a couple of weeks ago, I felt it.
A slight but unmistakable pain on the outer side of my DIEP flap reconstructed breast.
I honestly could not tell if what I felt was a lump or scar tissue (and how does one even know what breast scar tissue feels like?).
So, I did a self-exam as best I could, comparing left (normal) to right. The right definitely felt different, and it hurt, unlike what I was used to with menstrual cycle tenderness.
My gut told me it was nothing. But after it persisted for several days, I told my oncologist. Even though I knew it was the right thing to do, and even after all this time, I still feel silly doing so.
The soundtrack in my head goes something like this:
“There are other patients who have far more pressing needs.”
“This is not a big deal.”
“You will always have some fallout from treatment. Get over it.”
But then I remembered how individualized cancer cases so often are, and what an unnecessary and foolish risk I could be taking if I were to ignore a weird symptom.
I’m so glad I didn’t. And for the record, it did turn out to just be scar tissue (exhale and big girl panties for the pain management win! Now that I know it’s nothing to worry about, I won’t).
But isn’t it wild? Who would have imagined that so far out from a DIEP flap procedure, you can still experience parts of your body waking up and feeling again? Apparently, it’s well within the range of normal for this patient population to experience the onset of scar tissue pain years later.
Good to know.
Bottom line, readers – breasties, especially – consider the possibility of scar tissue should a new-to-you pain appear.
And, as evidence that there is personal growth in all our worries (even the ones that turn out to be nothing we should have worried about in the first place), I did not waste hours trying to self-diagnose this thing online.
See? There’s hope for all of us ;).