A collection of interviews with and stories from women who have been affected by breast reconstruction
Triple negative breast cancer (BRCA gene), chemotherapy, double mastectomy with immediate reconstruction with PAP Flap
In September 2016, at the age of 26, I found a lump in my right breast. Before this, I had often had regular, harmless lumps in my breast related to my menstrual cycle. They were always in the same place, whereas this new lump was in a different location, so I knew I needed to get it checked. After visiting my GP, I was referred to the breast clinic at the hospital.
After more tests at the hospital, I was diagnosed with triple negative breast cancer; due to a family history of breast cancer I was told I would need to be tested for the BRCA gene. This would determine what kind of operation I would need after six courses of chemotherapy.
I did test positive for the gene, so I needed a double mastectomy. I elected to have reconstruction at the same time. As I didn’t have enough tissue on my stomach, other options were given such as implants and the use of tissue from my thighs. I decided to opt for the latter, because in the long term I thought this would work better for my lifestyle.
Prior to my operation I received excellent support from the team at the hospital, who prepared me for what to expect.
The operation and recovery presented me with many challenges, and I got through that difficult period with the support of my amazing partner, family and friends. As the recovery from the operation meant I had limited movement, it gave me a lot of time to rest, which allowed me to start to recover emotionally as well as physically. I was supported by a couple of family friends who had also experienced breast cancer, which was invaluable to me. Almost five years on from my operation, I would like to offer support to women in a similar way.
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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