My Point of Heu
After I was told that I had a very high genetic predisposition to breast cancer, I knew immediately I wanted to take measures to reduce my risk as much as possible. I could very well have had an 8 out of 10 chance of developing breast cancer in my lifetime and I've seen the struggle, pain, agony and plight that commences when you are faced with fighting this disease. So, I opted to reduce my risk by over 90%, having a simple bilateral mastectomy was daunting, but I felt supremely confident that this is what I needed to do, to have a healthy life and to live with peace of mind. Nothing in life is a guarantee, but with this I know that I did my best to prevent cancer and live a full and enriched existence.
After deciding to remove both of my breasts, I also felt from my inner being that I didn't want to have my natural breasts replaced with implants. I had this strange feeling that if I put something foreign into my body that it would reject it. After seeing my primary care physician, who had been along with me on this journey of fielding the cancer calls, and seeing family members, friends and my mother die from the disease... she supported me in the effort to have my breasts surgically removed. But as the process began almost everyone involved confidently suggested that I have reconstruction done.
My surgeon, whom I love and adore, was firm that I review all my options. I saw additional surgeons who went over the methods of reconstruction and each time I left with supreme confidence that I did not want to have new breasts created or put in.
Essentially there were 4 different breast reconstruction options:
1. Expanders that are later replaced with a permanent implant.
2. Flap surgery - replacing with tissue from another part of your body.
3. Fat Grafting (I didn't qualify for this option)
4. Immediate Reconstruction - as soon as the breast is taken out an implant with skin and etc is put in.
To be completely honest, I wanted this to not consume my life. I wanted to heal as quickly as possible and go back to my active self. The stats showed the easiest way to bounce back within a few months was to just go flat. Assessing the recovery time and levels of satisfaction and success of these other procedures was concerning to me. The expanders is the most common process, but also involves going to the hospital weekly to have them filled and increased in size gradually, then after that is complete another surgery is done to take the expanders out and put the implants in. The flap surgery is a newer version and combined with the mastectomy seemed so long (to be asleep) and also involved cutting into my back and taking tissue from their and putting it in my breast pocket which would not have a nipple anyway. I was told I was too lean for the fat grafting option - oh well, LOL. And the success rates of the immediate reconstruction didn't seem to entice me at all.
I spoke with half a dozen mastectomy patients and all 100% of the ones that had reconstruction had issues with it, or had to have the implants taken out and/or another surgery (sometimes they will call that a touch-up). I am not saying reconstruction is wrong or a bad decision, I just didn't believe it was the right decision for me. And, honestly if down the road I wanted to have implants put in I could do it later. It's just suggested to have this process started when you have the initial surgery because it is a tad easier and speeds up the process.
In the end I am still confident, comfortable in my own skin and truly content with my body. My steadfastness to go flat was the only decision I was comfortable with and I am extremely happy with it. Surprisingly (my flat chest) isn't noticed at all by others and I feel empowered, strong and supremely positive. You can always opt for prosthetics, padded bras and other means to make it look like you have curves, but it's simpler, easier and such a breeze getting dressed now not having to worry about a bra...and my clothes fit fine, although I do try to wear more tops with ruffles or those that flow instead of the form fitted ones. I believe when it comes to your mind and your body, they go hand in and hand and you have to trust your instincts.