My name is Tricia Vitucci. And my surgeon is Dr. Addona. Beginning of October, that October 2nd, 2019, I just went for a routine checkup to my gynecologist, and she felt a lump, which if I’m being honest, I might have felt something a couple of days prior to that, but I really didn’t think too much of it. At that point, I was newly married. I was going to be married two years to my husband, and I had a nine-year-old daughter. And I was really happy and enjoying my life and had a lot to be grateful for. And then I find out I had cancer.
Once in a while in the beginning, I would tell my husband, “Can we go in the other room? I need a six-minute pity party.” Be honest with yourself. If you need to take a few minutes to go in the room and cry or just be down, then that’s what you have to do. And we go in the other room and it would last two minutes, and he’d say, “Oh, you got another four minutes left.” “No, I’m good. Let’s go.” And then it just stopped. But really it was my daughter. I had a nine-year-old daughter. So I had to not be scared, because if she sensed I was scared, she’d be scared. So at first it’s like, you fake it till you make it, but I made it really quick. It wasn’t that hard to just get the diagnosis and figure out what my course of action is and then just move on.
I always would tell my daughter, “Go in your drawer, take out your big girl panties and put them on.” So I had to do the same thing, and it helped me to help her. And I was very honest with her every step of the way upfront, my husband and I, and I really grew strong for her.
My double mastectomy was in November of 2019. So I had to do chemo after that with the expanders. So I had five months of chemo, it was 14 rounds. And then after the chemotherapy ended, I had to do 25 rounds of radiation, which was another… It was pretty much the whole summer. So I couldn’t even think about having a reconstructive surgery until my skin healed from the radiation. Dr. Addona told me when I first saw him, “Give me a year, and you’ll be happy.” And it was pretty much a year, just about a year, a little bit over because of COVID, that I was able to get my reconstructive surgery, which was the DIEP flap where they take the splits in my stomach and give it to my breasts. So it was perfect and I have nothing foreign in my body, and it was such a wonderful decision.
A lot of people were pushing me to do the implants because the surgery is long. Family was telling me, “It’s COVID season. You go to the hospital, what if you bring it back? It’s a long surgery,” and kind of making me feel as if it was a selfish choice of mine, where I could just go in for two hours and have implants. But I kind of knew this is one day of my life where I’m going to have these breasts for the rest of my life, so I’m not going to skimp. I’m going to do what I feel is important. And I had a year to think about it. I always felt I had so many options. There was the implants, there was the DIEP flap, there was the flap with some implants. But I’m just so happy with the decision I made just to do it, take it from my stomach, put it in my breasts. And I got kind of a little tummy tuck there too. Score for me. And yeah, it was great.
And I had the double mastectomy, and for a year after, I had fillers, like spacers, or expanders, they’re actually called. And so my daughter thought it was funny to call them my boobs because, air quote, they’re not real boobs. And I would hysterical laugh. But if you messed with my hair or tease me about the hair, I would get very sensitive about it. And it sounds silly that after everything I went through, that my hair is the biggest bother. But up until a week ago today, I wore wigs every day. And I went last Tuesday and I got it cut or shaped and colored. And I said, “I’m going to do this interview without my wig because it’s real and it’s honest. And I think I faced everything else with cancer, really I did, like a big girl, except for the hair, hiding the hair, and I’m just not going to do it anymore. It’s going to grow, and then I’m going to be back to where I was.”
But yeah, I even was in Las Vegas in July, 110 degrees, with the wig because I just couldn’t deal with the short hair. I’m so blessed that I’m healthy and I have just a wonderful family, and I’m just looking forward to just raise my child and enjoy life with my husband. And I’m so blessed to have wonderful parents who are so helpful and my friends. But really growing my hair< I know it’s awful, but I’m obsessed. I think about it all the time. I will go to sleep at night, I’m like, “Grow, grow, grow.”