Personal Ride Through A Mastectomy

mastectom decision Women, as well as men, have been having mastectomies done for decades. The topic has once again hit national news secondary to Angelina Jolie’s admission to recent bilateral mastectomies secondary to mutated genetic code. Fortunately, data/research has helped fine tune the procedure, making the overall end results so much less devastating than when compared to those done decades ago. Being told you need a mastectomy is one of those moments that is life changing, yet ‘doable.’

The reasons for a mastectomy are multi-fold and unique for each, whether secondary to Cancer or genetic mutations with increased risk for Breast CA. It is not a new procedure but as previously mentioned, much improved, with many having been performed on women as well as men. The procedure is linked with positive value in that it can be a solution, as well as a preventative measure for eliminating a potentially lethal disease, if done as recommended.

Making the decision to have a mastectomy isn’t always easy and/or straight forward. Fortunately, there is support available and in place from many organizations, healthcare personnel as well as volunteers who have worn the shoes and are more than happy to help. Each person’s case is unique so approaches towards treatment vary. There can be lumpectomies and/or partial mastectomies, that are first attempted to clear disease from breast tissue. In cases where a specific sized clear margin beyond the CA isn’t readily achieved, then decision for mastectomy is typically the next logical step.

Having someone tell you that you need a mastectomy doesn’t really impact you at that moment, but rather, a short while later, after you’ve had time to digest it and think about how it will change your life. No matter how worried you become, the thought that comes to mind is that you’re not the only one to ever have this procedure done. The comforting side was that there are options and/or resources available to help educate, so that a personal decision can be made on what to do post surgery.

I personally went through early stage Breast Cancer, which portrayed as calcifications and not a lump or tumor. After two partial mastectomies and the inability to achieve a safe clear margin beyond the calcifications, the decision was made to do a mastectomy as the last option. Truthfully, at that point in time I was ready for this choice, secondary to already having had a biopsy and two surgeries with resultant pathology reports that were working against me.

The time prior to the mastectomy allowed me to do research, read blogs, as well as talk and listen to many women who had gone through breast cancer and the treatment of. By the time my surgery date came around, I was more than ready and had made the decision to do immediate Flap surgery (DIEP). It was scary, I won’t lie, but I had great faith in my Surgeons and health team and was in the best physical and mental shape at that time to “get her done.”

I had great support from family, friends and was placed on many prayer chains, all of which helped stabilize my psyche. Being a Registered Nurse, I also knew that 99.9% of healing is psychological and that my rehabilitation had to start now, prior to surgery, so that I was mentally prepared in regards to the big picture;  what, why, when and where.  I was also fortunate to be able to surround myself with resource people who I could call if needed. The hardest part was holding myself back after surgery, slowing down and give my body time to heal.

There is no reason to fear having a mastectomy(s) if needed and/or for preventative purposes. It is a procedure that has been done for decades and isn’t something that one can’t adjust to and which will not affect and/or change one’s long-term quality of life. As previously mentioned, a mastectomy can “save lives and is doable.”





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