A collection of interviews with and stories from women who have been affected by breast reconstruction
Double Mastectomy 1999. Delayed DIEP Reconstruction 2008
I cut myself shaving under the arm and the wound would not heal, and this is how I found that I had cancer of the lymph glands and double breast cancer, even though I self-checked there was no sign of lumps in my breast but I had been feeling unwell and had lost a lot of weight. There had been signs but you would not have directly linked them to breast cancer, so how lucky was I, that morning I cut myself!!!
I went ahead and had the surgery to remove my breasts but reconstruction was not an option for me at this time, I needed chemotherapy and radiotherapy and it was not ideal to have a reconstruction before the treatment was finished.
After all my treatment was finished and I was feeling fitter I decided to pursue the reconstruction but unfortunately the surgery was too great. The only option available to me at the time was to create one breast from my back muscle (Latissimus Dorsi Flap) and one breast from my tummy muscle (TRAM transverse rectus abdominis muscle), the surgeon had never done the two operations on one lady before so I was not happy to go ahead with this.
A few years later I decided to book another appointment to see if any changes had come along in breast reconstruction, and to my delight the DIEP was offered to me, I came out of my appointment grinning like a cheshire cat, I was so happy that I could have this done after all these years.
Now, there I was with this choice, do I or don’t I have reconstruction? This is my decision to make and no one else could make it for me, but I decided to go ahead even though my family was nervous about me having more surgery, I felt awful putting them through the worry, but I had to do this for me.
In August 2008 I went ahead with a double DIEP reconstruction, and I have never looked back, it has been the best decision for me, I feel more confident in my clothes, I look at myself now and I don’t see cancer when I undress, even though my breasts will never be the same as they were, I am happy with the outcome.
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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