Breast Cancer has always been a part of my life. My aunt died soon after I was born, my Grandmother (like her mother and all of her aunts) battled it for many years and the year after she passed away my beautiful Mother was diagnosed. She lost her battle at 33, when I was just 15 and so I had always assumed that I would be next. It was no way to live, counting down the years till I turned 30 (the age each of my family members was diagnosed) and thinking I might not be here to watch my three small children grow up. After finding a lump I went to speak with my mothers specialist who recommended considering a prophylactic double mastectomy and told me that I could be tested for the gene that causes breast cancer. I immediately jumped at the chance and 6 months later my fears where confirmed, I carried the BRCA1 gene. While some people were horrified at how easy the decision was for me to have my breasts removed I felt that it was my only choice and the best chance at living a full, healthy life and most importantly showing my young daughter that there IS hope and cancer is not her legacy.
Before my surgery I was given an MRI to check that everything was all okay. Unfortunately a tumour was found and so I was afraid it was too late. A decision was made to go ahead with my mastectomy and testing would be done after they were removed. After a lot of consultations with breast surgeons and plastic surgeons I finally underwent my surgery last year in 2008 at the age of 27. The sense of relief I felt when I woke up far outweighed the discomfort of my new scars. It was like a huge weight had been lifted from my shoulders.Testing was done on the area they had found on the MRI, it turned out that I had two small tumours and both were thankfully benign.
My surgeries were done in three parts, the mastectomy in which the plastic surgeon placed chest expanders, which gradually over a few months were pumped with fluid to stretch the skin, these were then replaced with implants and just 2 weeks ago I had the final part which was the nipple reconstruction. In 3 months or so I can go and have the area around the nipple shaded by a cosmetic tattooist. I will not in any way say that my journey has been as easy as the decision to take it. I have been through the normal ups and downs of losing that small part of myself. I can truly say now though that I love what I have and I would not change it for anything and the best part is being able to see a future beyond 30! What the surgeons can do is absolutely amazing. In a few years I will have my ovaries removed also, but for now I can breathe easy knowing I have done all I can do to give myself a fighting chance.
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