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 Debbie chose to proceed with a breast reconstruction:

In late 2010 at the age of 57 I was diagnosed with ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) through a routine annual mammogram. At that time I felt that my right breast had betrayed me and my left was a ticking time bomb therefore less than two weeks later, after making an informed and supported decision, I underwent a bilateral mastectomy. I could have undergone an immediate reconstruction but everything happened so fast I just needed time to digest all the options available to me.

I strapped my breasts on every day for twelve months and when I was ready, underwent a Latissimus Dorsi Pediculed Flap Reconstruction. I now have part of by back on my front (I find this amazing). My surgeon and all involved were supportive, considerate, honest and caring. My expectations were always realistic, my native breasts were not perfect so I did not expect my reconstructed ones to be either, but they are fabulous!

Breast reconstruction completed my journey but for me personally the fact that my cancer was diagnosed early and removed successfully is what I am most grateful for.

That was now nearly five years ago and I still feel so much gratitude to my surgeons, nurses, family, friends and all the other women I have met and still meet who are part of this family of breast cancer survivors.