whippetmom's Story: After Years of Contemplating Prophylactic Surgery, I Was Diagnosed
whippetmom is a member of the Breastcancer.org Community.
I always knew that some day the phone would ring and a doctor's voice would tell me that I have breast cancer. After three, possibly four, generations of women in my family all of them having had breast cancer, I was pretty much a shoe-in for the disease. I was 58 years old at the time of my diagnosis in 2008 — the same age as my mother, when she was diagnosed thirty years ago.
I always knew I would have breast reconstruction. I have been to numerous plastic surgeons over the years, contemplating, but never taking the step towards a prophylactic bilateral mastectomy. I remember seeing reconstructed breasts in the 1980's — they looked pretty good to me — even back then. My mother opted out of breast reconstruction. She just did not care at the time, but honestly regretted never having had reconstruction in later years. She had a modified radical, non-skin sparing mastectomy, and so she never really had the option years later when she lamented the decision. Now, a generation later, it is quite possible to reconstruct a breast, even though a non-skin sparing mastectomy was performed.
Some women do not care to have reconstruction after breast surgery. Some feel liberated going "commando" and opting out of reconstruction. I applaud them for their decision to do so. That was just not the way I was going to go forward in this journey. So I knew I would want both breasts taken and that I would want tissue expanders and smooth round silicone implants. I had done plenty of research over the past twenty years of my life on silicone breast implants. I was one of the medical malpractice investigators researching the silicone breast implant controversy back in the 1990's. I knew silicone was safe.
I had the utmost faith in my Kaiser plastic surgeon, who was hand-picked by my dear friend, a medical oncologist. My plastic surgeon said, "If I am doing my job right, you should have very little discomfort with the tissue expanders." And indeed, I had very little discomfort. I went over my desired breast implant sizes with my plastic surgeon, so there were no surprises when I awoke from surgery. I would do it all over again, but I am certainly glad that it is all behind me! I now help other women with implant-based breast reconstruction issues on this website.
Next month I am celebrating my 6th year cancer free and my 6th year as a member of this wonderful organization...my home away from home, Breastcancer.org.