Considerations for making a breast cancer surgery decision and why I chose a double mastectomy.
Hi, This is Rose, the Content Managing Editor!
Here is the first part of the series on Breast Cancer Surgery. We have some definitions at the bottom of this article. We hope that you will find the series informative over the next months as this series is published.
Part 1: Double Mastectomy
I had a lump on my left boob which was biopsied and it turned out to be cancer. The surgical oncologist told me to get a gene test and lo and behold,
I tested positive for BRCA2*. This meant I was at high risk for recurrent breast cancer in my other boob.
Ladies, making the decision to chop off your tatas is not easy! I struggled with it. At first, I wondered if they could do a lumpectomy but, because of the BRCA2 gene mutation, that was not an option. Next, I wondered if I could keep one boob? But what if the cancer comes back on the other side?
Basically, all boob tissue is a potential place for cancer growth. The surgical oncologist’s recommendation was that I undergo a double mastectomy. And in the end, I decided that the risk was too great and I didn’t want to go through the strain of surgery any more than I needed to. It sort of helped to think of my boobs as my enemy, that we were no longer friends and they needed to go.
The other thing you should ask about is nipples. My cancer growth was right by my nipple. So, when they performed the mastectomy they took those too…. There was no saving them. You can get them tattooed (much) later if you like.
I struggled with self-image. I did not have big boobs but I liked them and I was comfortable in my body. To have that taken from you is big trauma. How would I be able to go to the beach? Or wear any of the dresses or shirts? It’s terrifying. If you have a boyfriend or husband, will they still find you attractive? These were some of the questions I asked myself. I highly recommend seeing a therapist as soon as you can.
During the first 30-45 days I felt like a lot of big decisions needed to be made quickly.
They are all life-altering and overwhelming. Please remember everybody is different. Hopefully, my experience can give you some insight into your decision-making.
* please see my introduction post for details about the diagnosis
BRCA: most common cause of hereditary breast cancer is an inherited mutation in the BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene. In normal cells, these genes help make proteins that repair damaged DNA. Mutated versions of these genes can lead to abnormal cell growth, which can lead to cancer. Return to article
lumpectomy: surgery to remove cancer while leaving as much normal breast as possible.
double mastectomy: breast cancer surgery that removes both breasts. Return to article
The views and opinions of our blog writers represent their personal views and opinions and not those of Breast Cancer Hawaii. Through our blog, we merely seek to give individuals creative freedom to share their personal experiences. Do not rely on this information as a substitute for a professional's medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you have any concerns or questions about your health, please consult with a physician or other healthcare professional.
Rui Sasaki is a breast cancer survivor and volunteer with Breast Cancer Hawaii. She got involved with the organization hoping to help women in Hawaii by sharing her cancer journey. She also just accepted a position working for a medical group on Oahu and hopes to do better for the community.