Mastectomy was inevitable, but single or double was a choice

Mastectomy was inevitable, but single or double was a choice


When I came home from a long day of getting my second opinion and hospital pre-registration, I felt a sense of relief. I had chosen Fox Chase Cancer Center in Philadelphia, and selected my surgeon and plastic surgeon. I asked them to schedule my surgery after Easter and after my husband’s graduation from nursing school later that month. Several big decisions had been made, and I felt completely satisfied with my choices. Although the long day had exhausted me, I felt a peaceful calm.

The next thing on my to-do list was to wait on the results on my genetic testing to see if I carried the BRCA gene. If I did carry the gene, I definitely would choose a double mastectomy. If I didn’t carry it, the decision would be a little more complicated. As with any medical test results, I wanted to know, but at the same time I didn’t want to know.

March 2016 was a very busy, stressful time for me. I worked at a consignment sale, which took lots of time. Sadly, the health of one of my dogs, whom had been with me 14 years, declined dramatically. I made the agonizing decision to have her euthanized. When I tell you that having her put to sleep was one of my most painful experiences, I mean it. I cried and cried. To this day, I miss her very much.

On a happy note, my husband graduated LPN school, and my daughter had spring break.

Single or Double?

Did I want a single or double mastectomy? To be honest, I didn’t want any part of a mastectomy. I liked my body as it was and didn’t want to change anything. But the reality of breast cancer remained, so a mastectomy was inevitable.

After much contemplation, and for several reasons, my decision was to have a double mastectomy. My disability, cerebral palsy, makes getting a mammogram very difficult because I have trouble sitting still. I knew they would really want an especially clear image based on my breast cancer history. I didn’t want to have to worry about a reoccurrence of breast cancer and have to go through all this again.

I was lucky that my cancer was in a very early stage.  If I did end up with breast cancer on the right side, I might not be as fortunate with an easy diagnosis, and I didn’t want to put myself or my family through that again. As I said, my husband just graduated from nursing school and didn’t have a job yet, so he had ample time to help me. I also had a long line of people to help me, my pets and my two children.

I told my surgeon I had chosen to have a double mastectomy. Even though my BRAC test came back negative and I didn’t need a double, he respected my choice. Now it was time to prepare for my surgery.

Note: Breast Cancer News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Breast Cancer News, or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to breast cancer.

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