Why I Had a Double Mastectomy When I Don't Have Breast Cancer

My relationship with the evil being called cancer started when I was only 2 weeks old, when my aunt was diagnosed with breast cancer. I didn’t know a lot about it growing up, other than it was something that made people sick.

As I got older, more and more family members fought this breast cancer menace. Doctors believe it is genetically related to, but not the same as, the recognized “Jolie genes,” BRCA 1 and 2. My beautiful aunts lost their hair, but not their pride or dignity. When I reached my 20s, I was referred to the breast clinic and told my options to prevent this from entering my family’s little world.

Prophylactic, bilateral, preventative, mastectomy — the words floated around my mind for months. The hard truth was my healthy breasts, which were used to feed and nurture my two babies for almost a year each, had to be removed.

I found out the facts, spoke to psychologists, checked the boxes, and booked my operation in August 2015. The day came like Christmas to a child, the nervous excitement and butterflies that build up; the relief that it’s finally here, the day I can take a stand against this evil. It would not take me.

Amanda shows her mastectomy scars.
Amanda shows her mastectomy scars.

I had both breasts removed on August 6, 2015, and I felt like the weight had been lifted from my shoulders. No more worrying; my 97 percent estimated risk was obliterated. I now have far less of a chance (5 percent) of breast cancer developing than the average woman, who has a 12 percent risk.

Three weeks post operation, I got an infection in the wound area. I tried to defend my new body using antibiotics and IV drips, but to no avail. I was advised the tissue expander for reconstruction had to be removed. To make matters worse, the only surgery day available was on my baby girl’s fourth birthday. I hit a low.

I came home with a heavy heart and a hard-to-fill emptiness. Over the next few weeks of hospital visits, I had a decision to make. What should I do? Reconstruct one breast? Leave them both?

I had a holiday ahead; this did not fit my plans. I had not wagered on any problems occurring, but still. I was fortunate. I did not have cancer!

Three months down the line, reconstruction of the right breast aka Foob (fake, fantastic, fabulous and free boob) had taken place, and I was now unique, like a unicorn. I was a “unifoob!”

Three more months later, I received news (with some forceful complaining to my surgeon) that I had a date for surgery before Christmas. I had my expander replaced and have now reconstructed both breasts. I have used my chance to remove my ticking time bombs and prevent this from casting a shadow over my little world.

One thing I had decided on before going ahead with surgery was that I wanted to share my story. I wanted to help other women who were in limbo wondering how scary the scars would be, and if they would still be the same women they were before losing such a beautiful, womanly part of themselves. So I plucked up the courage and inner strength to document blog, and post every detail of my journey. I hope it helps any woman facing this decision.

Follow this journey on Mastectomy My Way: Cancer, You Lose.

The Mighty is asking the following: What’s one thing people might not know about your experience with disability, disease or mental illness, and what would you say to teach them? If you’d like to participate, please send a blog post to [email protected] Please include a photo for the piece, a photo of yourself and 1-2 sentence bio. Check out our Submit a Story page for more about our submission guidelines.

Find this story helpful? Share it with someone you care about.

Related to Breast Cancer

10 Tips for Coping If You’ve Just Been Told ‘It’s Cancer’

At 11 p.m. one night, there was a fateful ping on my Facebook page. It was my friend Julie in the Netherlands. It was 4 in the morning there. Julie had been diagnosed with a uterine tumor and couldn’t sleep. She wondered how she’d muster the strength to get through the coming weeks — and [...]

When 2 Strangers Cried With Me Over the Loss of My Mother

I have a significant history of pre-term labor. Every one of my four pregnancies has been a challenge. We lost our triplets in the summer of 2007 because my body would not hold them long enough. In June 2011, I was in my third trimester of pregnancy with my youngest son. At the same time, [...]

To My Friend One Year After Your Breast Cancer Diagnosis

A little over a year ago, you were diagnosed with breast cancer. People often use the word “life-changing” for things like this and, though it sounds a bit cliché and trite, that is the only word that comes to mind right now. I need to apologize for the considerable delay in writing all that will [...]
A meme that says, "26 Parts of a Breast Cancer Diagnosis That 'Shocked' People the Most"

26 Parts of a Breast Cancer Diagnosis That 'Shocked' People the Most

Breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in women and the second leading cause of cancer death among women. Each year an estimated 230,000 women in the U.S. will be diagnosed with breast cancer, according to National Breast Cancer Foundation (NBCF). And though October is famous for pink ribbons and breast cancer awareness galore, it is difficult to fully [...]