A collection of interviews with and stories from women who have been affected by breast reconstruction
Triple negative breast cancer (BRCA2 gene), chemotherapy, double mastectomy with immediate reconstruction with implants
I was 41 (December 21) when I found a tiny lump in my right breast; after a mammogram and a biopsy, it was confirmed that I had cancer. Nothing can prepare you for hearing those awful three words: “you’ve got cancer”. The worst feeling I had was that I now have to tell my family after already having lost my mum 30 years ago to cancer.
I loved both my hair and my breasts, and my cancer journey saw me lose both of those over my 12 months of treatment. Feeling my hair fall out in the shower actually invoked a feeling of sickness in me, so I made the choice to shave it all off and donate it to the Little Princess Trust to become a wig before it was lost to the plug hole. This made me feel empowered to be taking control and knowing it was going to make a little person feel more confident.
During my chemotherapy treatment my oncologist recommended I take a gene test which showed I was BRAC2 positive. I had some tough decisions ahead on how I wanted my treatment to go. To me, only having extra monitoring was not an option; I had already lost a year of my life to treatment, so I opted for a double mastectomy. I always knew I would want reconstruction, it was just a question of which reconstruction! After discussing options with my surgeon, he laid out the different possibilities that were available to me. We decided it was best for me to replace my breast tissue with implants which he was able to do in the same surgery while saving my nipples. Although I knew it was the right decision, I definitely went through a grieving process for them. However, after dreading some of the after-effects (loss of feeling etc, which wasn’t the case with my surgery), I ended up so happy with how they look and feel, as they weren’t too far removed from how they were before, except being a little perkier!
I was lucky to have great support post-surgery and it definitely helped on those challenging days to have people around to look after me.
Keeping Abreast was established in September 2007 by patients Anna Beckingham and Beverley Birritteri and Breast Reconstruction nurse specialist Ruth Harcourt. They recognised a great need for women, both newly diagnosed with breast cancer and facing the possibility of mastectomy, and also women further down the line who are also considering reconstructive surgery, to be able to meet and talk to other women who have been through similar experiences. This allows women make an informed choice about whether or not to proceed with breast reconstruction.
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