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slsshari posted:
hi, shari here, i am so ignorant. i have breast cancer, am having a double mastecomy, but i have no idea what a bilateral mastecomy is. are there any women out there around my age,65, who have chosen not to be rebuilt. who have chosen to go with prothesis? i need to hear from you. i have a lot of underlying health issues that make me scared to keep being operated on, but i am considered a fairly attractive woman. my husband and i don't share bedrooms, and haven't for many years. so this decision is all on me. i don't have a very big ego as far as my boobs go. they have served me well in my younger years, but as the queen of hearts said in alice in wonderland off with the her boobs. i have been told i will freak out, gross out, and other negatives, i am hoping that someone out there will tell me i will learn to live with it. so many thanks, shari
rachael67 responded:

I can understand how the unknown insists on plaguing you with questions and doubts. Somehow we can be quite brave when we understand and know something, but these masked strangers who hover just out of reach and remain all but invisible are another matter.

No! With the good attitude you have about what is important (YOU) and not your individual body parts, I doubt most seriously that you will freak out or gross out!! Will you look different naked? Sure. But you didn't expect you wouldn't, right?

You, most likely, will be focused on some discomfort and the newness of the drains, etc. initially. When you do choose to check out what the landscape looks like, I would imagine that it will take a bit of time to adjust to the flatness of your chest. Different, but definitely not ugly or gross!

I recall when I was first diagnosed and unsure of what the future might hold, one of the first images which popped into my mind was that of a brave and beautiful woman who had taken part in a tv presentation about breast cancer. She had unveiled her mastectomy surgery so that we might appreciate just what it looked like after the fact. And you know what? It didn't look dreadful at all! Yes, it was flat, Yes, there were some scars. But it just was. Not ugly. Not beautiful. Just was! And at the moment that I recalled that tv show, I immediately realized what a gift she had given me!! Now I knew I didn't have to fear what might be, because I would still be ME...I didn't have to fear what I would look like to my husband or to myself. I WOULD BE OKAY!!

And so will you!

If you want to further investigate the surgery and/or the appearances of a mastectomy, you can google "bilateral breast mastectomy" and check oiut "visuals" on some of the sites. (Most deal with plastic surgery and reconstruction.)

Are you remembering to breathe???? That may help along with knowledge. And your sister. And your humor. And your courage!

kismet14 responded:

Hi! My mother had mastectomy - but it was just her right breast. She is turning 61. We were also so ignorant then. I thought at first that it would a big, BIG, BIG wound. But after the operation, I saw it and it was just like one thin line. It was not gross nor scary. I looked at my mother and she is still the same beautiful woman I have known all my life. My father feels the same way I do. My mother felt okay with the operation. She was not able to move her arm right away because it felt numb. I bought her stress ball so she could exercise her hand. And then a friend of mine advised her to exercise by letting her finger crawl to the wall. And the drain, I think it took a week for it to be removed. We were extra careful with it because she would oftentimes forget about it. So every time she would stand up, we would remind her of it. We also prepared clothes with buttons all the way down so she would not find it hard wearing them. Its been a month now, and she was already adjusted to having a flat chest on her right. She had no plans of having reconstruction.

with love and prayers,
bc090109 responded:

I had the bilateral mastectomy and opted for reconstruction (with tissue expanders) at the same time of the mastectomy surgery. I do have to have another surgery only because tissue expanders were used. However, there are many methods of reconstruction on which your breast surgeon and plastic surgeon could elaborate where only one surgery will be needed.

If your fear is about undergoing a separate surgery for reconstruction, talk to your breast surgeon because depending upon the type of reconstruction, the mastectomy and reconstruction could be completed all in one surgery. My breast surgeon and plastic surgeon coordinated their parts during my mastectomy surgery. Your breast surgeon will most likely work with a plastic surgeon he or she could recommend you could speak with to get a better understanding of the process.

Regarding the scars, I have a scar on each breast which is no more than a line. As one of the girls here mentioned, you can see pictures online if you research "bilateral mastectomy" or other similar searches which lead you to plastic surgery involving breast enhancements or breast reconstruction.

Good luck with your decision! It's a scary and overwhelming process to have to make such complicated decisions so quickly when it seems you haven't even had the opportunity to absorb even the initial diagnosis. Just make sure whatever you choose works for you and how you will reflect on it in the future.

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