So, You Have Breast Cancer!

So, You Have Breast Cancer

 It was not a normal, average day. My dearest friend had died a few weeks prior and I was lying on the livingroom sofa trying to wrap my head around what life was going to be minus her.

She was someone I had spent most of my time with and was one of my greatest mentors. At 91 years old she was a survivor of the Japanese concentration camps in the Dutch East Indies. Any problem I had, she was the one I would bring it to. We had been inseparable from the moment we met. An odd couple that most found amusing. It was hard to know who needed who more – most would claim she would have been lost without me.

Now, a few weeks after her passing, it had become evident that no one in the universe was as lost as me.

The world was still turning. In the weeks since her passing I had wrapped up her funeral, taken care of notifying people, started a new job and was planning my daughter’s upcoming wedding. I was trying to just stay busy.

Lying on the sofa, my feet in my husband’s hands, I reached my hand across my breast and feel something.

It was a lump.

It was a peanut sized lump and I know immediately what it was. I sat up, jerking my body into a seated position and said in a panicked cry “Oh my god! I have CANCER!”

Making the Right Decision for YOU

I remember how much of a whirlwind it was when I got my confirmed diagnosis of cancer. There was pressure to make a decision on what route to take and everyone around me needed me to know NOW!

I think this can be the hardest time for most women. I don’t like being pressured into anything and so, I remember wanting to think on things when everyone else (my family, the doctor, and especially, my husband) wanted a solution to the problem. The worst part was that everyone’s “solution” was different.

Looking back now I actually wish I had taken more time to really talk about all the options. I am in no way saying that I am not happy with my decision, but, I do feel that not every option was fully discussed  due to the pressure to just DO SOMETHING NOW.

You must remember that everyone is different and has different opinions on what you should do, most importantly, your doctor. It is really easy for women to get wrapped up in “the doctor knows best.” However, I highly encourage you NOT to just do what your doctor tells you. Read and research all your options.

Remember, this is YOUR body everyone is talking about. Make sure you have all the facts before making any decisions.

How I Decided on a Unilateral Mastectomy without Reconstruction

In that first moment when I found my lump I immediately knew I would not choose a lumpectomy. Why? I had perfect breasts. Although I was in my 40s, my breasts were perfect & perky. I literally had breasts that most women envied. In my strange – and possibly irrational – reasoning, I decided that I did not want to have a breast would become deformed by having half of it scooped away. I just knew I would prefer my breast to be removed.

However, with my diagnosis, my doctor did not recommend a mastectomy. He was insistent that I go forward with a lumpectomy. He explained that I only needed a lumpectomy and that it would be a basic procedure where they scoop out the cancer and test the tissue around the area to make sure they got it all. He said there would be minimal damage to my breast.

After this procedure, I would need radiation….on my left side of my chest…NEAR MY HEART….no thanks!

And what if they didn’t get all that cancer? I would just go back to have MORE of my breast tissue removed. It all sounded like way too much for me, with possibly the same ultimate result in the end, my whole breast needing to go. It just seemed to me like too many maybes and I much prefer simple solutions.

So, despite my doctor’s reluctance, I decided to take a week to think about everything and come back with an answer on what I would do.

In that week I devoured everything I could. I read about lumpectomy vs. mastectomy. I read about reconstruction. I read Catherine Guthrie’s article in Oprah Magazine and realized that I wanted to forego breast reconstruction and go with a Flat Closure. Although I saw some lovely reconstructed breasts I didn’t think I would be comfortable with the process.

I must let you know, this is not the choice for a lot of women and I highly recommend you really think about how you feel about YOUR BODY.

Your body is what you have to live in and no one else can make the right decision for you. Search your soul. I believe everyone knows what is needed to make themselves feel right in their body.

After explaining my reasoning to my doctor, he finally agreed that I was not making an irrational decision and that I had really taken the time to consider everything, together we agreed he would remove my breast and make the left side of my chest flat.

“Living Flat” has been the best decision for me. I have daughters and am close to many of their friends. Therefore, I feel that it is so important to be a new example and spread the message to younger girls that you do not need breasts to be confident, beautiful, or desired.

If you are still deciding what type of surgery you are going to elect to have but want to see photos of different women who have chosen flat closure, you can go to Flat Closure NOW where a photo gallery has been created for you to view, as well as information on how to discuss with your doctor your choice to go flat.

The end result is we all need to love our bodies and do what is best for our own health, quality of life, and self-esteem. I’m sending you love and know you will do the right thing for you.

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