Mackenzie Alleman here, I’m 30 years old and currently reside in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania with my husband, Josh and my pup, Jackson. I am BRCA1+ and found this out in 2016, only two years after losing my mother to triple negative breast cancer. In October 2017 I had a prophylactic bilateral mastectomy with DIEP flap reconstruction at The Center for Restorative Breast Surgery in New Orleans. I finished up with my reconstruction process in March 2018. In 2017 I started sharing my journey on my blog ihearitssunnier.com and of course my Instagram. I am also the Philly Breasties ambassador!
When I finally got the results that I have the BRCA1 gene mutation I’d already made my mind up that I’d be moving forward with a preventative mastectomy. After watching my mother slowly fade from this earth for five years, I knew I didn’t want that for myself, and I didn’t want that for my family again.
At the time, I was living in Pensacola Florida and wasn’t surrounded by many great healthcare options. So my husband and I ventured 3.5 hours away to The Center for Restorative Breast Surgery in New Orleans. The Center focuses on autologous tissue reconstruction and I’d known from my research I wanted to go with the DIEP flap surgery.
What’s DIEP flap reconstruction you ask? In technical terms: DIEP = Deep Inferior Epigastric Perforator. This is the dissection of excess fat/tissue from the belly button and below to reconstruct the breasts. This involves using blood vessels/arteries to reattach to the blood vessels in the chest in order to have living tissue constructed into breasts.
In layman’s terms: My new foobs are my belly fat!
Now, this reconstruction path isn’t something to be taken lightly. It’s a 12-hour microsurgery that leaves you with incisions on both breasts and from outer hip to outer hip. Followed by a phase two surgery that includes liposuction, fat grafting, dog ear and scar revisions. The recovery time after the initial surgery spans to 8 weeks, mine was more like 12 due to infection issues. Hello, I’m the trouble child!
During recovery there were a lot of really intense moments. Moments my husband of three years never thought we’d experience so early on in the marriage.
But my favorite moment is what I came here for. I was having an extra hard day, crying through the pain and still in shock at the incisions. I watched other women through Instagram that went the implant route speed past me and back to everyday life. I was very down on myself.
My husband and I were chatting one day and he was reminding me why I chose to go this route. I wanted the natural look and feel, I was terrified I’d reject implants due to allergies, and I didn’t want surgery every 10 years.
At the time we were referring to these new mounds as my foobs. So when my husband tried to reassure me that I’d chosen the right route and the words “Organic foobs, grown, raised and sourced locally” came from his mouth I couldn’t help but cry -- because we started laughing hysterically.
I’d never been one who was on trend with the organic world of grocery shopping and clean eating. Now I find myself sharing and advocating for women to also go out and get their very own “Organic foobs, grown, raised, and sourced locally!”
Finding humor during this process wasn’t always easy, but whenever I’m down I just remind myself of that moment. I share this with other Breasties alike. It always seems to bring a smile or a laugh to the room, just when one is needed.
So please, if you’re looking at possibly going the DIEP reconstruction hit me up. I’d love to explain the good, the bad, and the funny! #ihearitssunnier