Preparing for Prophylactic Mastectomy as a Breast Cancer Survivor

My Oncologist highly recommended I have a prophylactic mastectomy of my remaining breast because I am considered high risk for recurrence since I have a genetic mutation in addition to my initial diagnosis of Her 2 Positive Stage 3 Breast Cancer.  He told me this 1.5 years ago, and I’ve put him off until now.   Now it is time to face it and get it done.

Here We Go Again

It has been almost 7 years since I made the decision to keep one breast at diagnosis.  Of course, if I would have known then what I know now, I would have had a double mastectomy.  But I made the best decision for me at the time.  That is all anyone can do. Simply, I could not see cutting off a perfectly good body part.  It was not a wrong decision for me, just circumstances changed when my mom and sister were both diagnosed with breast cancer within 3 years of my diagnosis.  The red flag then went up that it must be genetic even though there were no previous family members with breast cancer.  It turned out to be genetic for my sister and me, but not for our mom.

One thing I’ve discovered is no one is too much in a hurry to chop off your breast if you don’t have active cancer.  And I do believe that is a good thing.  I am thrilled to let the women with cancer get the first appointments, the first test times, and the first surgery times.  Having been in their shoes, I get it.  Now I am very happy at the end of the line!

Certainly, I have more control this time than I did when it was an absolute emergency to cut off the breast with the 6 cm tumor the size of an orange and 9 positive lymph nodes.  This time the tests and surgery are at my choosing and not being done within two weeks!

I was able to spread the tests and numerous doctor appointments out over the summer which helped the stress levels.  And this time there is absolutely no grief about losing the remaining breast.  I’ve lived with one breast for 2,555 days after that dreaded first day in the shower when you sob and cry as you see nothing where your breast once was.  You never get over it, but you get used to it.  So I will get used to living with no breasts as well.

After my sister had Diep Flap Reconstruction at the time of her Double Mastectomy, I told her I would not go through that grueling surgery for $1 million dollars.  She said she would not go through it again for $1 million dollars.  Some women have few complications.  She had many even though she had an amazing plastic surgeon.

Breast cancer tries to kill you and often mutilates you.  I’m not afraid of it anymore. There will not be any tears this time.   I will choose to look at it and remember that the continued fight for 7 years has been worth it and how thankful I am to be alive!

 

 

 

 

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10 comments

  1. Such a tough choice and, as you say, we all do the best and make the best decisions we can at the moment. I was lucky enough to encounter a nurse who had breast cancer twice (25 years ago), and it was the comment about her recurrence that compelled me to do a double mastectomy. I said “no way” to reconstruction. I just wanted to be healthy again and didn’t care if I had breasts or not. Six years later, I’m still happy with my decision not to reconstruct. No regrets. In fact, many more women are doing it. I actually found a Facebook group called, My Flat Friends. Support and information and all that good stuff. Best of luck to you in your surgery and beyond!

    • Thanks so much for writing! I appreciate your story so much! Congratulations on SIX YEARS!
      So happy to hear this! Glad to hear you have not had any regrets about no reconstructive surgery!
      FYI – there is one more Facebook group that I know of called Flat and Fabulous as well. I will check
      out My Flat Friends! Thanks for your good wishes! Denise

  2. Denise, When i had a second cancer in the breast where I’d had a lumpectomy I decided that I wanted a double mastectomy. It’s been a few years now and I certainly do not regret it. Having been large breasted it is such a relief to not have to tote them around any more. I do have the phony ones and the bras to put them in but they are so heavy I don’t care to use them. I’m coming up on my original diagnosis date in October – 20 years ago. I feel blessed to be currently cancer-free.

    • Hi Karen! Thanks so much for writing and sharing your story! I am so thankful you are reaching
      20 years! What an amazing milestone! It is good that you have felt relief, and I appreciate those words
      coming from you!! Here is to another 20 years! Denise

  3. Wishing you the best on your upcoming surgery, Denise. You know better than almost anyone what’s ahead. I had a bilateral mastectomy when diagnosed with metastatic IDC in my left breast & 4 nodes. I opted for having both breasts removed and silicone implants in hopes of a more even looking reconstruction, but the best made plans… At least I’m healthy now, multiple plastic surgeries and 5 years later. I feel well, I’m active and looking forward to a long life! I hope you’re up and about and back to yourself soon!

    • Hi Cindy – thanks for your good wishes! They are much appreciated! I am so sorry you had to have so many surgeries! But I am thankful you have 5 years behind you! It is great to feel well!! Sending my best wishes, Denise

  4. Wishing you the best on your up coming surgery. I know you will do great 👍🏼As always keeping you in my prayers my friend. Thank you for being you an being an inspiration to us ladies with all you insight and information you give and share with us. It is greatly appreciated 😊

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