I found myself sat on the end of a phone yesterday, listening to my surgeon's secretary tell me to be prepared for my next consultation. My consultant and the gentleman who will be performing my bilateral prophylactic mastectomy, would be telling me that he proposes to perform my surgery next month. This came as a shock as I was not expecting to have a date until at least November. All of a sudden the choices I'd made and roads I'd been down over the last 12 months, hit me in the chest, hard.
In my DNA I have the BRCA2 gene mutation and this increases my risk of getting breast cancer to approximately 90%. Now, if you were about to fly on holiday and the pilot said “Ladies and gentleman, there is an 90% chance that this plane will crash and you may die” don’t you think you might get off that plane as soon as possible?! You wouldn’t cross a road if there was an 90% chance of being hit – even if you were wearing every possible item of protective clothing and you were warned that the car was coming, I know I would find a different route. How can I NOT have these operations? If I develop breast cancer which, lets face it I am almost bound too, how do I look my children and husband in the eye? When little Elle and Ben say “mummy why didn’t you DO something?”. For me it is a no-brainer and I only have ONE option.
I read a message on a forum today by a lady in the USA who did have the mastectomy and oophrectomy but who has just discovered that she has breast cancer. A sneaky, cruel, horrendous tumour that has snuck in between her left fake breast (implant) and her fake reconstructed nipple. I cannot imagine how she is feeling. But she has raised another important point. Having a double mastectomy does NOT mean you are not going to get breast cancer. If there are even a few cells left that are made up of breast tissue then this wicked BRCA gene can start to produce tumours. The mastectomy can only decrease your risk (by up to 95% but NOT by 100%). It is still very possible to get breast cancer following this operation. She is unfortunately one of those 5% and my heart breaks for her. I can offer little comfort apart from the fact that at least she TRIED, at least she did everything she possibly could to keep it at bay.
If I join her in this 5% or don’t make it through this operation then I know at least I tried.
I had a bit of a “wobble” this morning. It was inevitable I suppose as it’s been ages since I have had a cry. It made me want to write tonight, as I feel it helps me cope a little better. I beat myself up a little more every time I even start to get apprehensive or upset about it. I think of the chance I have why other members of my family are suffering or have suffered so terribly, they never had this opportunity. I feel so guilty, why me, why didn’t they have this chance?! I get upset thinking of them and how tremendously strong they are and have been. It’s not fair... They are my heroines and through my family’s genetic journey, they are who I need to thank for being the ones who have helped save my life.
This has been a life changing experience so far and I’m not even halfway there, BUT in less than 2 months I will have DRAMATICALLY reduced my risk of breast cancer and I will no longer need to live in fear of finding that inevitable lump.
It is such an obvious thing to write but I so believe in the power of the mind and the power of positive thinking. It would be easy for me to become a “victim” right now. I could wallow in fear and have sleepless nights filled with horrifying imaginings about this operation OR I can embrace the kindness of my friends, squeeze the hands of my children and appreciate every second of my precious marriage. I can remember how lucky I am and remind myself how I will now hopefully avoid chemo and ruthless cancer therapies. I will embrace the miracle opportunity that has been given to me and wear my new boobs with pride.
And most importantly I can now start planning the menu required for my “Good-bye Boob Party”! I want my closest girl friends, considerable amounts of alcohol, inappropriate jokes, fake boobs etc The menu: chicken breast in a bap, 2 large jugs of Pimms, copious amounts of wine, nipple chocolates, meringue and strawberries….oh the options are endless……..!!!
Thank you for reading.