Preventive Mastectomy: Seven Years Later
Posted April 28, 2023 by Prairie Wife -
Seven years ago, I closed my eyes for 6 hours, and when I woke up, I no longer had breasts.
It was the first of three surgeries that were part of my preventive mastectomy and reconstruction journey.
I knew the time to write this post would be coming soon, and for the last few weeks, I’ve been wondering what I wanted to share.
Physical pain from this surgery is now minimal.
Every once in a while (maybe every two months or so), I’ll experience a few moments of stabbing nerve pain.
When I’m trying a new workout routine (or getting back to an old one after a break), I tend to experience some muscle pain, but it’s minimal and goes away after a few weeks.
Frankly, when I began writing this I questioned the purpose of continuing to write these posts.
Is it helpful to say, “All is well, and I don’t think about the decision or the surgery anymore.” ?
People are shocked when they somehow learn about the surgery weeks or months after meeting me…”why didn’t you tell me?” or “I had no idea.”
Which, I guess, was the whole point, right?
I underwent a Preventive Mastectomy and Reconstructive Surgery so that I could go on to lead my best life without having to worry about Breast Cancer.
My goal was to look good in clothes afterward.
My hope was to look SO GOOD that no one would even know I had the surgery.
So I guess these reactions mean mission accomplished #checkthatbox .
Yet I realized this week as I was creating a power point and a video for a recent event…that maybe there are some ways that this surgery still affects me.
For example, this picture.
When you look at this picture, I’m guessing you see a happy 40-something mom of 5 hanging with her hubby, looking pretty dang good, right?
What I see is the divot above my breast, where we could never quite get the fat to stick.
I also wonder, for the 98,754th time, “Is it okay that I like how I look so much? Is it bad that I am so happy with the result of this surgery when it’s something I did to save my life? Are people going to see this as showing off or being fake…because these boobs are 100% fake?”
It reminds me that I still have some baggage to work on…the weight of other people’s opinions has been constant throughout this process.
Something I am entirely responsible for because I have been SO public about my choice.
While I am improving at shrugging off the burden of what others may (or may not) be saying…I DO still occasionally hear those negative thoughts quietly whispering in the background.
I didn’t realize how often I cover my chest when I’m uncomfortable until I watched this try-on video I made for our social media.
The dress is very low-cut compared to what I usually wear, and if you watch the video, you can see how uncomfortable it makes me. The reasons for that are mostly what I listed above, but also, it’s a question of fear for me.
I have no feeling in my chest after my surgery.
I can’t tell if clothing slips down or pulls to the side.
This means if I wear something low cut, I often cover my chest up (because this allows me to feel with my hand that all the important bits are covered) or pull the neckline up constantly.
If you notice, most of the clothing and gowns I wear are high cut or cut in a way that allows me to wear a bra. That way, I know that if something slips, my bra is the only thing anyone will see.
I don’t even realize I’m doing it, but it shows that some things have permanently changed for me.
It will always be a concern for me that I will accidentally have a boob pop out. It has even turned into a bit of a joke with my close friends. If I am wearing clothing that makes me concerned about a “slip” I ask one of them to be on “boob watch” and ensure all is well.
But do you know what I don’t have to worry about anymore?
Getting Breast Cancer.
I also no longer worry if people are okay with the fact that I’ve shared every step of my journey (pics and all) on this blog.
Almost every week for the last 7 years, I have received an email or message from someone thanking me for sharing my journey or asking me questions.
Some weeks I have multiple messages.
I am incredibly proud of the support I have been able to give other women.
They are the reason I will continue to write these posts every year. #gritandgrace
So that they can make the right decisions for themselves and their families…whatever that looks like.
So that women that are considering undergoing a preventive mastectomy can know that they are #strongenough.
Categories: Preventive Mastectomy, Support
Tags: , breast cancer, mastectomy, preventive mastectomy, reconstructive surgery, recovering from mastectomy, support for women, Women's health
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