One thing I had never anticipated, when I was diagnosed with cancer, was the number of critical health and support related choices I was going to have to make.
It was so overwhelming to think that I was going to have to not only understand my illness, amongst fear and anxiety, but then I was going to have to choose a surgeon – who then presents you with a team of multidisciplinary professionals they work with.
On top of that, you then must make informed decisions in order to provide consent to have a number of procedures and treatment to get you back to good health.
All this while you are still trying to get your head around – I HAVE CANCER! WTF!!!
The journey I took was not a common one; I chose to have a mastectomy even though it was not required. I felt this was the best approach for me. Once all my active treatment was finished, I gave myself some time to recover and then decided on a delayed breast reconstruction.
I understood that the chances of a more aesthetically pleasing result was less likely with a delayed reconstruction, but I felt strongly that I couldn’t cope with having the breast left on me.
I weighed up the options – do I want a hot looking boob in my 40s or do I want my peace of mind?
Please understand that this is no judgement on your own choice or what you value to be important to you. It’s important to know and discuss what you value the most for your immediate and longer-term health.
There are pros and cons with every different approach. I would recommend the following to you my lovelies:
- Be well informed about your options
- This includes the different types of surgeries, which are constantly evolving with improved outcomes for patients.
- Understand the possible impact of choices made – in both the short and long term.
- Including taking into consideration impact treatment may have on fertility health (if this is relevant to you, and if this is an option before active treatment starts).
- Seek a second and third opinion if you feel you still have questions that need addressing, or if you’re just not getting the right vibe with your doctor.
- Speak to someone who has had a similar lived experience – the value of this cannot be understated.
- When considering options to support your journey, including support from allied health professionals, ensure you understand any possible implications to your health and active treatment.
You are your own best advocate. You know your body better than anyone. It’s natural to be caught in the wave of medical appointments and activity after a diagnosis, but I would highly encourage you to regularly check in with yourself and your inner knowing and ask, “Is this serving me well?”
A cancer diagnosis makes us place a lot of trust and faith in medicine, science, and amazing medical teams – but you are an active participant in those relationships. Just as the professionals bring us the best of their knowledge and experience, we work with them in developing the best strategies that support us and our needs. I would urge you not to feel that you are passive in this, but rather at the very centre of your medical team and you have a role to play.
As hard and as long as the delayed breast reconstructive process took, I don’t for a second regret it -and that peace of mind is worth gold to me!
I wish you much joy, love and good health.