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.
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.
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