My Point of Heu
A few months ago I made a decision to prolong my life... Instead of living with an extremely high risk of breast cancer, I opted to reduce this risk by over 90%. I had a simple bilateral mastectomy. What this means is I had a preventative surgery involving having both of my natural breasts removed. Yes, I opted to surgically remove both of my breasts in an effort to live a longer, healthier, happier and more productive life. With that I also opted not to undergo reconstruction (get implants), so I went completely flat.
You might be wondering why someone under the age of 40, living a highly active lifestyle and in stellar shape would decide to have this done. Well, first and foremost I am an only child to a single parent, so I don't know anything about my paternal side of the family, but what I can tell you about my maternal family is a bit alarming. When I was just about to enter high school my mom's youngest sister died from cancer at the age of 34. I remember this because I was still living at home and my mom said it had spread from her breasts to her bones and literally everywhere. This was the first time I had heard about someone with cancer in our family. Then when I was working at KHON I remember taking a call from my grandmother and she was undergoing radiation for breast cancer. Again on my maternal side cancer begins to rear its ugly head.
In 2016, my mother told me that she was diagnosed with breast cancer. She fought a courageous fight and after it had metastasized to her scull, liver, and etc she passed away in 2018. Since then my medical attempts at prevention began to increase. I had already been receiving a mammogram and MRI every six months, but they opted to do more testing. It turns out I tested positive for a genetic mutation called the RAD50 gene abnormality. This is a newer gene, compared to the commonly known BRCA1 and BRCA2, that is associated with an increased chance to develop female breast cancer, ovarian cancer, and possibly other types of cancer. They said it was very likely that my mother passed this genetic mutation on to me. In the midst of all this cancer talk and drama, I was scheduled for my mammogram. As luck would have it they found something in my left breast. Lucky for me it was deemed benign and life goes on right?
I had hoped that life would go on as long as possible and as long as I would like it to, so I decided to tackle the risk and opted to have my breasts surgically removed. I did a ton of research, saw several reconstructive surgeons, spoke to about a dozen breast cancer survivors and opted to have my surgery in the spring. It was an emotional time... nipple sparing wasn't an option because of the breast size and it was the anniversary of my mother's passing, my first time in the hospital (as I have never broken a bone or had surgery, I've never been under anesthesia and yes, I was scared) and it was the first time I would be staring cancer face on and saying NO.
My husband encouraged me to document the process, I initially didn't want to but he noted that I could help so many people in the future. So, I took videos from the day before my surgery through the entire recovery and so on. Overall, the procedure went perfectly. My recovery was pleasant and now I am back to my old self again, with some limited range of motion of my arms and I lost 5 pounds from my chest... But I am doing well. I don't miss my breasts, I don't regret what I did, I am open to talking about it and interested in sharing my experience in time.
Boobs don't define you, they didn't define me and honestly when I am out in public no one seems to notice they are gone. Mainly folks who know me will say I look like I lost weight, but the majority of the time no one says anything because they don't see anything. I am healed now and able to tell my story and when the time is right I will do so with courage and will continue to wear my scars with pride.