You may have had or are about to have a mastectomy, either because you’ve been diagnosed with breast cancer or are at very high risk of developing it in the future. If so, your doctor may have told you about options to rebuild your breast or breasts — a surgery called breast reconstruction. Typically, breast reconstruction takes place during or soon after mastectomy, and in some cases, lumpectomy. Breast reconstruction also can be done many months or even years after mastectomy or lumpectomy.
Whatever your age, relationship status, sexual activity, or orientation, you can’t predict how you will react to losing a breast. Each week throughout Pink Ribbon Month, we’re sharing the stories of how other women made this very personal decision to undergo reconstruction.
This is the story of why Chris chose to proceed with an immediate breast reconstruction:
My sister, Ann, was diagnosed with breast cancer in December 2014. Being a supportive sister I assured her I would shave my head when she started to lose her hair. Her response to that was “Please don’t do that, I want you to have preventative bilateral mastectomy instead.”
As we both have the BRCA 2 gene, it is something I was fully aware of but never thought a preventative bilateral mastectomy was for me. But the moment Ann made the suggestion, it all the sudden became just plain old common sense. I booked into the breast clinic to begin the process.
Unfortunately I was too late and I was diagnosed with breast cancer in January 2015. Considering breast cancer is what it is, and the treatment is pretty awful, I felt extremely lucky, blessed and privileged that my journey was not to be travelled alone. In Ann I had the example of a very strong, beautiful woman. Ann was brave and upbeat no matter how sick she felt. She was also very practical, with a nursing back ground Ann made all her decisions with a certainty that only comes when you have a clear picture in your mind of what is best for yourself.
I was lucky…. I just followed Ann’s direction with my own treatments. We had different types of breast cancer and thus different lumpectomy’s, different chemotherapy’s and certainly different side-effects from our treatments. However with all the differences I followed Ann’s judgement with those she was willing to have treat us.
After our chemotherapy was complete, the decision to have the bilateral mastectomy and immediate reconstruction was easy for me. Those boobs had tried to kill Ann and I so they weren’t getting another chance, they had to go.
Choosing reconstruction for me was easy, choosing a surgeon was not so easy. After many appointments with many surgeons, we had to go with the surgeon that didn’t offer the world, just offered his absolute best outcome. We instantly trusted our surgeon (Dr Matthew Peters) and were comfortable that out results were just as important to him as they were to us. We are not naive women and were well aware that we were going to look different.
I look in the mirror now after a shower and I just see a normal woman. I have scars, I have a flat tummy (that’s a plus), I haven’t got nipples (they may come later, not decided either way yet) but I am just me and I am healthy.
I thank all those involved in my journey every single day.
Life is great and cancer sucks!