Being pregnant after having breast cancer has brought up all sorts of fears and continuing body image issues.
I'll start with the body image issues. At first it was exciting to see my breast getting bigger. I had always wanted to be just a little more endowed, and I was finally getting my wish.
Except...there's only one. And I'm bound, quite literally, by the post-mastectomy bra. It's not like I can show off cleavage or go bra shopping. Instead, my breast is now bigger than the First Form making me look uneven, and it's not all that comfortable to stuff a sore breast in a too-small bra. So I feel like instead of enjoying this little pregnancy perk, I'm reminded even more of what I've lost.
I don't mean to sound like I'm having a pity party. I kind of did my first trimester, I won't lie. And I don't think there's anything wrong with that. It sucks that such an exciting time has to be tainted by breast cancer and can't be "normal." Sometimes you just have to wallow before you can move on.
Beyond the cosmetic changes, my breast is changing. Sometimes it hurts, and sometimes it hurts with stabbing pain. Although rare for breast cancer, pain was my first symptom, so breast pain in pretty concerning to me!
Also, the whole "know your breast(s)" through self-exam is out the window right now. I'm a little obsessive right now about the self-exams, probably doing one every two weeks. When I do a self-exam now, my breast is full of changes, including all sorts of stuff that wasn't there before!
For me, my DCIS tumor when 2cm when I found it, 7cm two weeks later at the MRI, and 8 cm a week later at the mastectomy. I don't know how such a large tumor was not invasive! So when I feel a change in my breast, I'm thinking this an emergency and needs immediate attention.
Except everything I'm describing - the pain, the extra "stuff" - is all perfectly normal for pregnancy. Aaaahhhhhh!!!!!
I made sure to bring it up with my OB. He was actually really cool about it and took it as seriously as was needed. Before I could even finish asking which doctor should I call if I do get concerned, their office or the oncologist's, he responded with call the OB's office first. It wasn't in a "I'm going to cut you off because you're being silly way" but in a "I totally understand your fear and confusion, and here's your answer." He also wanted to know when my last mammogram was and when my last exam by a doctor was. And then finally he said that in pregnancy, the breasts are prepared for breastfeeding by 20-23 weeks. Additionally, with a twin pregnancy, my body is at 2-3 weeks ahead of the babies' gestational age. Since I was 17 weeks at the appointment, that means my body is acting more like I'm at 19-20 weeks, so my breast is in full on getting ready for breastfeeding mode. He was very reassuring and not remotely brushing me off, exactly the response I needed.
Have you been pregnant after breast cancer? Or have breast cancer during pregnancy? How did you handle breast changes with pregnancy?