Challenging my perceptions of body image!

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Toosta
Toosta Member Posts: 3
I'm new to this group and was keen to hear about other people's experience with how they chose whether to have a reconstruction or not with a mastectomy. And how they felt afterwards.  I've just turned 49. I had my first breast cancer 2 years ago (DCIS left breast) and thought once we had treated this that this would be the end of it. I was so wrong. They found the second cancer in July this year (Stage 1 invasive right breast) - and we got that cut out and treated. Two days after my RT finished they diagnosed a third cancer, Pagets disease back in the left breast.  So now I'm up for a mastectomy (most likely double as I'm now 'high risk') early Jan. I know this is the right treatment - but I'm scared now, whereas I had plenty of courage to overcome the last two cancers (being small, early stage - get them out and I thought no problems!).  I understand the treatment, and I absolutely am all about minimising the risk as much as possible (I plan on living until I'm 100 lol). But boy, it's so confronting.  Still working on the plan but I'm leaning towards not having a reconstruction done.  From what I've been told about this - it sounds even more confronting than the mastectomy itself!  Did any of you struggle with this decision? If you chose not to have a reconstruction, was it hard to come to terms with? My breasts are clearly not my friend so they need to go - but I don't know how to (emotionally) prepare for the outcome. 

Comments

  • arpie
    arpie Member Posts: 7,803
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    Sorry to see you join our exclusive group @Toosta ..... you've had a tough time of it xx

    Please ask to join our Flat Chat private group - where you can ask questions & see pics in total privacy.
    https://onlinenetwork.bcna.org.au/group/29-flat-chat-no-breast-reconstruction

    and our Reconstruction group - same as above - private & with pics
    https://onlinenetwork.bcna.org.au/group/1-choosing-breast-reconstruction

    It is such a personal decision - I've always thought that if I had a double mastectomy that I'd stay flat - but was lucky to only need a Lumpectomy ....

    Having reconstruction means additional surgery, longer recovery (sometimes with infections) & occasionally, some aren't happy with the results :( 

    Conversely, having an 'aesthetic flat closure' (no flappy bits left over) can mean a really tidy result once the wounds have healed. xx 

    Wishing you all the best with your decision making xx

    Maybe consider asking your partner to take some pics of your boobs (with & without clothes) so that you can give them a good 'send off' ..... those puppies, as you say, are clearly not your friends xx

    Take care
  • iserbrown
    iserbrown Member Posts: 5,606
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    Here's another link

    https://www.reclaimyourcurves.org.au/breast-reconstruction.html

    The decision is personal and there's no right or wrong 

    Take care
  • Toosta
    Toosta Member Posts: 3
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    thank you @arpie and @iserbrown this is really helpful. 
  • Afraser
    Afraser Member Posts: 4,392
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    @Toosta

    It can be a hard decision, can’t it? And depending on your circumstances and preferences, you may not have to
    make a decision straight away. You can see how you feel about being flat.

    I never really fancied reconstruction, in spite of the enthusiasm of my surgeon (single mastectomy) But he also preferred to wait which suited me fine. It may have been age (I was 67) but I don’t think so. Being large breasted, I would have an implant, which might have to be replaced in about a decade. None of it appealed much. I didn’t have an aesthetic closure as my surgeon left some provision for reconstruction. I didn’t find any of my new ‘look’ distressing. It was much as I had imagined. A holiday in Iceland and stripping off in the women’s change room for a pre hot tub shower (no cubicle doors) did wonders - Icelanders, like the Japanese, have seen it all, not a sideways glance. I’m increasingly comfortable with my choice. But I know it’s not everyone’s. As @iserbrown says, there’s no right or wrong, just what feels best for you. Best wishes. 



  • June1952
    June1952 Member Posts: 1,897
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    Welcome @Toosta.  The ladies have given you some good resources above.  As @arpie said, the additional surgery time and recovery for reconstruction may be an issue to consider.  If you go flat and are not happy do you have sufficient excess tummy which can be used for a DIEP reconstruction ?

    To put it in a lighter way - your girls are not your best mates and you have decided that they are on the chopping block.  They are really not what defines you.  Is your partner a great fan of the toys ?  Is this part of the reason for thinking of reconstruction or is it more about how you will look (in clothes) to others ?  If the latter then a couple of prosthetics can fill a bra.

    No-one can really know how one will feel following the surgery.  Whilst I am not keen on my lop-sided view in the mirror I just remember that Miss Rightie tried to kill me and I won the battle.  I was given a mastectomy with no options and I have seriously considered reconstruction but the costs, being away from home and the recovery time have prevented me doing so.

    Write your thoughts down or discuss it with others close to you as that may settle your mind somewhat.

    All the best.  See you in the two groups shown above.  💖
  • Toosta
    Toosta Member Posts: 3
    edited December 2023
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    Thankyou all so much - I’m so glad I found you all! I’m very grateful to have a husband that does not care at all - he was the first person to say he loves me - not about the boobs - so I know I have his full support which makes the decision lighter. I don’t have a lot of body fat so that’s part of the issue - they’re going to have to raid a few places and after everything in the last two years - I’m not sure it’ll be worth it.  I’ve applied to join those groups so yes - looking forward to continuing the discussion there too ❤️
  • Julez1958
    Julez1958 Member Posts: 1,177
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    hi @Toosta
    I had a double mastectomy  and DIEP reconstruction  2 years ago and am very happy with my decisuon
    ask to join the private group on here “ Choosing breast reconstruction “  it has great stories and photos.

  • Abbydog
    Abbydog Member Posts: 490
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    I'm sorry for your recurrences.
    So far I've only had BC once. Stage 2 Grade 3 Ductal, Estrogen sensitive. In 2020. At 61 yrs age.
    I had Mastectomy with axillary clearance on my Right side.
    I was not distressed at being flat one side. But I hated my prosthesis.
    My bra seemed to always swing one way.
    I then considered going Flat both sides.
    I am a bit chubby, and decided that my tummy would stick out too much.
    So then I looked into Reconstruction.
    I wanted a DIEP, but I was not suitable.
    Then I chose a Lat Dorsi to R side (recommended for me due to having had Radiotherapy)
    At same time of that surgery, I had a prophylactic Mastectomy to my L side. In 2022.
    My main concern was symmetry.
    I had tissue expanders and then breast implants.
    I have symmetry and am very happy. I will need new implants in 10-15 yrs.
    I miss my nipples for intimacy reasons. I will get nipple tattoos, just to look finished.
    Overall, I'm happy. Dressing is easier now, and I sometimes go braless at 65.
    All the best with your decision making.

  • Julez1958
    Julez1958 Member Posts: 1,177
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    Hi @Toosta
    The comment above that your breasts do not define you resonates with me.
    When I found out I had to have a mastectomy my wonderful hubby of 32 years said “ it’s not like it’s an essential organ”.
    Certainly put it in perspective.
    Thats not to say the whole shitfest is not emotionally devastating , at least  in the beginning.