Preventive Mastectomy: 8 Years Later

Posted April 25, 2024 by Prairie Wife -

8 years later…

It’s hard to believe that it has been almost a decade since I underwent my Preventive Mastectomy! While this is technically only the “anniversary” of the first of three surgeries that were part of this process, I think the first step was the hardest.

When I looked back at the posts I wrote as I prepared to go into surgery, the feelings of fear and uncertainty came rolling back.

I remember stopping at our church a few days before surgery to pray quietly and give all of my fear to God. I knelt in our almost empty church, laid my head on top of my folded hands, and cried. As my body shook, I heard piano music softly begin to play…and one of our parishioners began to softly sing “Hallelujah” by Rufus Wainwright

When I was done praying, there was a puddle of tears on the wooden floor…something I thought was just a phrase used in books to prove a point. It never occurred to me that it could happen in real life.

Looking back at the year of surgery and the first few years that followed, I can see how it has all impacted so much of who I am today and how I live my life.

Facing my mortality in my early 30s as a mother of five changed who I was as a parent. I began to focus on who I wanted my kids to be as adults and paid close attention to how all of my parenting decisions would help them move along on the path God made for them.

After all, I was no longer sure I would be there to help them as adults…

As I underwent surgery after surgery and worked through physical therapy again and again, I learned how much pain I could handle and saw how strong my body was.

It was then that I began to embrace an active life and push myself physically. I set goals like running a half marathon and climbing Pike’s Peak so that I had something positive to focus on.

By setting big goals and being unwilling to let myself down, I ensured I wouldn’t give up halfway through the healing process. In this case, settling for good enough wasn’t enough.

I wanted to be stronger than I was before!

I became excited to leave my comfort zone and began snowshoeing and cross-country skiing.

I embraced adventure, knowing I may not have a “someday” to do what I dreamed of.

I still feared failure, but suddenly, the fear of regretting not even trying began to outweigh the fear of being laughed at.

The first time I publicly shared my story (other than here on the blog) was on our local TV station. As the reporter asked me about my surgery, I suddenly saw, out of the corner of my eye, blown up to massive size on the green screen behind us, an enormous picture of my amputated breasts.

I kept rolling with the interview, went to the car, and slowly died inside for a bit.

But, after that, it was suddenly no big deal to talk openly about my surgery.

To date, one of my biggest accomplishments has been creating a space where women and their families can come to find the support they need.

Whether it’s people sharing links about my surgery with those they know or readers sending me emails or messages asking questions they couldn’t find the answers to in my posts…I am always happy to help offer support to those who need it!

Some people have asked why I keep sharing the posts and articles when they no longer apply to my life. Admittedly, sharing those older posts sometimes causes confusion for those who don’t see the dates or the #pastpost hashtag. I spend a lot of time navigating how to gracefully accept kind words and sympathy while explaining, “All is well. The surgery was [fill in the blank] years ago.”

Knowing that my surgeons in Denver continue to use my site as a resource for their patients has encouraged me to keep sharing my old posts. I know that through the magic of the internet (and perhaps the universe), they will reach the right person at the right time!

It took me years to become comfortable in my new body…

Looking back, I can see that I wasted so much time second-guessing whether I was showing off too much or being immodest…instead, I should have enjoyed trying new looks and wearing what made me feel confident. This is still a struggle for me at times, but I refuse to let the negative voice in my head win!

I still have some pain as a result of my surgery.

Shivering is incredibly painful, and you’ll likely never see me without a sweater, hoodie, or jacket close by. At times, I have to leave outdoor sporting events earlier than I’d like because I simply can’t get warm enough. I’m thankful for all the new technology in outdoor clothing that allows me to stay warm when skiing and snowshoeing.

As I push my body physically, whether it’s adding more miles to my runs, upping my weights in a workout, or trying a new activity, I will experience at least a week, if not two, of stabbing pain and soreness.

But I’ve learned that if I keep going and don’t give up, my body will eventually adjust.

8 years ago, I underwent a Preventive Mastectomy.

I have no regrets; I needed to do everything I could to be here for my family as long as possible.

Was it more challenging than I thought…yes.

But looking back at the last eight years of healing, I can see that I learned so much about myself through this process.

I genuinely think it has made me a better woman, wife, and mother.


Please know that I am always available as a resource. These posts are public so that they can be shared!

If you are looking at this site on a computer, you can click the “Preventive Mastectomy” tab and see all the posts.

If you are looking at this site on your smartphone, you can hit the menu button on the top left and then hit the arrow next to “Preventive Mastectomy” to see the complete list of posts.

Photo Credit: Featured Image Willie Petersen, Erin Potter, and Amanda Jo Photography

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