I was diagnosed with breast cancer after a needle biopsy, and had a left modified radical mastectomy. The cancer was too extensive to do a lumpectomy, and a wide excision was not cosmetically an option, so I felt I was giving myself the best possible odds with the mastectomy.
I felt betrayed. I have always been very active, have done lots of exercise, and have watched my diet, no drinking, no smoking, no meat. I have no family history of breast cancer, so how did this happen to me!! I felt very angry.
I now have a very positive attitude. Who I am is not about my breasts. I am very comfortable with my prosthesis. I have not entertained any thoughts regarding reconstruction.
I never wavered from my choice for a prosthesis. It has been the right choice for me. One of the most important things to remember when getting your prosthesis is to go to a store (whether it is a medical equipment company or a dress shop that specializes in clothing and products for survivors) that has a certified fitter. These fitters must have a number of hours in fitting instruction. It is not just a matter of saying, “That looks fine.” The size and weight of the prosthetic breast must match the size and weight of your other breast so you are balanced correctly. If you do not go to a certified fitter you may have to deal with shoulder, back and neck pain due to a poor fit. Manufacturers make wonderful lacy bras in black, white, and beige that are extremely feminine, as well as “teddies” with lace inserts so you can wear clothing with a deep V-neck. Wearing a prosthesis has never made me feel less a woman or less feminine. Remember, be comfortable with your choice.
On January 17, 2000, I noted my five-year survival date. However, it wasn’t until March 23, 2000, that I could actually celebrate. When my mammographer and surgeon gave me the official “thumbs up” it was as emotional as the day I received the initial diagnosis. The past five years have been an exceptional journey of self-discovery. Odd as it may sound, breast cancer gave me the opportunity to find out about me and it has been a wonderful five years.