Double Mastectomy is something that in recent years people have talked about, especially when people like Angelina Jolie speaks openly about her surgery, especially where she has the BRCA1 gene which increased her chances of breast cancer and ovarian cancer.
Cancer (any type of cancer) is that horrible word that no one ever wants to hear, that moment when that word has been heard, it’s like your life is going in slow motion, you don’t want to believe those words, like it cannot be true.
The reason I am writing this post is because I think that it is a very big talking point, cancer is scary whatever way you look at it, so by putting it out there in the media a bit more, it will help to raise awareness.
As someone who has been surrounded by cancer so much it is difficult for someone to live with and accept that someone you love has such a dreadful disease.
Did you know?
- 81.2% if women who had double mastectomy were alive 10 years after diagnosis. Around 18,000 mastectomies are performed every year, no specific number can be said for the amount that are rick reducing surgery.
- When the operation is performed the breast tissue gets removed and can reduce your risk of getting breast cancer to 95%.
- If you want to, you can have reconstruction which can be done using implants, using skin or muscle tissue from your back even your stomach or your butt, but 90% of women choose to have this surgery.
- Sometimes women are able to keep the nipple, but sometimes other options leave the person with no nipple. but the good thing is a nipple can be recreated with the use of skin grafts even tattooing which a medical professional can carry out.
- When you’re going to go through this operation, it can take a while to heal anything up to three moths, and it also means that you are not allowed to do any heavy lifting for for at least 4 weeks if not longer.
Before a person goes through a double mastectomy they will go through screening programs, have MRI scans, a mammogram or then have a risk reduction surgery. When you are going through risk reduction surgery the good thing about it is the fact that it can reduce the risk to lower than the national average, to 8% and that is a good thing.
After people have gone through a double mastectomy, some people choose not to have additional surgery like a reconstruction, this can be because they start “going flat” or “living flat.”
When you are going through cancer in general it can be the most difficult time for any person, and when you are toying with the decision to have your breasts removed it can be a confusing time. You are thinking what would I look like without breasts, what would I feel like without them, not wearing a bra every time you go out, would I end up looking less feminine, if you haven’t had children you wouldn’t be able to breast feed children ever. However, I think it is incredibly important to make people realise that your breasts don’t define you as a person, you are a beautiful person, boobs or no boobs, you’re still so fabulous and beautiful.
There are lots of reasons people have to consider a mastectomy for example, it can help a person to reduce the cancer risk but if you have dense boobs it can make things more difficult to find lumps or tumours. If you also choose to have the reconstruction then it means that you won’t have to worry about the breast sagging, but also it can help to improve your self confidence by having the reconstruction. Every decision tends to be different though.
However, by going through with the surgery it can give a person that sense of control over their risk or cancer, and can offer a little comfort to the person, even for a little while.
Having a single mastectomy can be just as difficult to deal with, if not more so, a person might feel like they look lopsided or that people will notice, and the thing is, it is a little things that you don’t think about, like waking up in the morning, going for a shower, expecting to see two breasts rather than one. You can get prosthesis to give you a lift for the other breast, but don’t ever feel like you have to wear something if you don’t want to and if you do, that is okay too, but don’t feel like you have to do anything that you don’t want to.
There are lots of things that people go through when it comes to double mastectomies, however, the big thing a person struggles with can be the fact that they’re having a part of your body removed to have it replaced with a man made product, and that sometimes can cause the person to take a step back and really think about whether reconstruction surgery is something that they wanted to go through.
For some people a single/double mastectomy makes sense, it can be the right decision, but don’t ever feel like you are under pressure to have or not have the operation, everyone is different, personal decisions, health reasons, family back ground, lifestyle choices, every decision is different.
Facing the difficult decision?
- When you’re talking about mastectomies, it is important to ask a question and if you’re not ready for the answer don’t ask it, you have to be prepared for what you’re going to hear, however, I know what you’re going to say, is there ever a right time. Answer to that? No, but if you aren’t ready, speak to your family, take someone with you, that can really help you.
- Once you’re clear on your decision, follow it, the thing is you can spend your time trying to figure out what the best way to go, however, what I would suggest is look into everything in depth, make sure that you assess everything from all different angles.
- Talk to other people who are going through the same things you are, by being open and honest, you are feeling supported, surrounded by people who are in the same boat as you, you will get through this.
- Take someone to your appointments, don’t ever feel like you have to go through things alone, you don’t. Cancer is scary, but going through it alone can be scarier, even though you might be thinking that’s not possible.
- Ask the doctor any questions you might like, I know that is easier said than done, but it is better to ask the questions to a doctor who is there for you rather than trying to find the answer online.
Whatever your decision, know that it is going to be okay regardless. With boobs or without boobs, you’re still beautiful in every way possible, and nothing will ever change that.