I have had a couple of comments (nothing bad) about my bilateral mastectomy, so I thought I would share information about my breast cancer experience.
In August 2001, I was diagnosed with Ductal Carcinoma In Situ cancer in my right breast. Mine was in the early stage, and I decided to have a lumpectomy followed by radiation. I had my surgery on September 10th, 2001. I had a reaction to the anesthesia so I remained in the hospital overnight. As I was preparing to leave, we heard on the news about the planes flying into the World Trade Center. Not the best of days. I was scheduled for six weeks of radiation treatments. I did fairly well with the radiation treatments. I had a bit of burn, but nothing like some women have. I had 3 treatments left to go when I received a call from the physician who read the original mammograms. I was asked if anyone had told me about the possibility of cancer in the left breast. I told them no and they told me I needed to come in for a biopsy. Not good news, especially when I was almost through my treatment. It turned out I had cancer in my left breast. I had been told that I had atypical cells in my right breast even after radiation and would have to have a mammogram every 6 months. I could not handle the added stress of worrying every 6 months about a recurrence, I did not want to live like that.
My Doctor told me that if I had a bilateral mastectomy that I would most likely not have a recurrence. I decided to go ahead and have the surgery. I really thought I would recovery quickly and be back at work in no time at all. That did not happen. I had a lot of swelling and drainage and one side of my chest had a wound that just would not heal. I had pretty much decided against reconstruction and as it turned out, I probably would not have been able to have it anyway. I had previously had breast reduction surgery and as a result of that I had a lot of scar tissue that cause complications.
I wish that I had not had breast cancer, but the experience made me a much stronger person. I did do some crying and some "why me" questioning, but overall I was determined that I would not let the cancer define me. Most of the time I don't even think about it much. It is really hard to find clothing that looks good on me, especially as a plus-size. I do think about it when shopping as I often find things I love that don't work on me at all. I do not want to try to wear prosthetics as I have known a few women who had a horrible time with them and they can be horrible expensive.
I am not writing this to get sympathy, I only want to share my story. Every woman who has breast cancer has to deal with it her own way, mine is to celebrate the fact that I am alive and well almost ten years after I was diagnosed. Please get mammograms and checkups as prescribed by your Doctor.