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No reconstruction after double mastectomy

suesandfla
Posts: 1
Joined: Jun 2009

I was diagnosed with a Stage IIIb recurrence of breast cancer in my right breast after 7 1/2 years. It was identified by satellite nodules that appeared on my breast. A dermatologist did the biopsy and diagnosed breast cancer. I have completed 4 of 6 treatments and the chemo had an amazing and continuing effect on the cancer. The nodules on the breast are completely gone. We are doing the chemo first to assure that I have clear margins with surgery. I will have a double mastectomy since my goals are to survive and not have breast cancer again.
In the beginning I met with my surgeon and a plastic surgeon and planned to have reconstruction (expanders) begun at the same time as the mastectomies. Now my oncologist wants me to wait on reconstruction. I was relieved. I don't know if I want to go through 6 months of expansion. I am 64 years old and my breasts have served me well. I have never had big breasts and they have not been the main focus of my identity. As a kid I was a "tom boy" and very comfortable with my boyish figure at the time.
I "think" I will be okay with a flat chest and scars...wear prosthesis when I am dressed. But I will have time to see how I feel.
Could some of you who chose to NOT have reconstruction tell me your stores.
Thank you,
suesandfla

CR1954's picture
CR1954
Posts: 1392
Joined: Jul 2008

I was 54 when dx'd last July. I had mastectomy on my right breast, but at this point in time, wish that I had chosen to have double mastectomy.
I met with a plastic surgeon, because my daughter and my breast surgeon wanted me to hear what he had to say. I went, pretty sure that I did not want reconstruction. I left there, knowing that I did not want reconstruction.

Like you, I had always been a tomboy and the fact that I had breasts really didn't mean anything to me. I could have cared less what size they were or anything else. They were just "there".

At the time of my mastectomy, frankly, I simply did not want to go through more surgery and more doctors than I already had to. I just wanted to get on with what I had to do to be cancer free, and I knew that I could always use a prosthesis when I went out.
And I still feel that way. I don't regret NOT having reconstruction. I wouldn't change my mind about having it done, even today.

As I said earlier, my only regret is that I did not have a double mastectomy, because being "lopsided" can be a pain in the butt. I mean, if I had had both removed, I would be flat chested, but at least I would match and that would be ok.
My scar doesn't bother me. No more than my abdominal scar from my hysterectomy nine years ago. It's just a part of me now.

But having said all of this, everyone is different, and everyone has their own feelings and needs, as to reconstruction. This is just my personal opinion about ME.

Hugs,

CR

arbojenn
Posts: 118
Joined: May 2009

Hi, susandfla!

I am in a situation similar to yours. I had a mastectomy ten years ago, then had reconstruction after chemo. Five years of tamox after than and one of Femara. Now my BC is back. Thinking I had scar tissue and a rash, I saw a dermatologist who was quite surprised to tell me it was recurrent breast cancer. I am waiting on the results of a needle biopsy from an enlarged node on the other side that my onc felt and that showed as a "hot spot" on the PET scan to hear what my team will stage the cancer. (Don't think the stage will change the course of treatment. Whether the same as the recurrent or a new one, I really think this endocrine therapy will snuff it out in no time! I LOVE this endocrine therapy and wish it had been this advanced ten years ago!) I do have lumps all over my flap and breast skin (I had skin conserving rec.) Once the endocrine therapy has done its job--and I can actually see it working on the bigger "spots"--I will have the implant and surrounding skin and tissue removed. I will have skin grafts to cover the gaping hole that will be left. No matter what the outcome of the biopsy on that other nodule, I plan on having the other breast removed also. (If insurance will pay for it. Doctor says she cannot do both at the same time.) There is a limit to what the body can repair at my age--57--I believe. And I do NOT want to go back to the cyclops look. I am looking forward to the choice of going braless or wearing some "falsies", whichever I choose. If I were younger, I don't know if I would choose to reconstruct again or not. But, I would rather spend the precious minutes of my life I have left with the grandkids than recovering from reconstruction, which was much harder than the mastectomy. I also am within two years of early retirement and want to get back to work before I lose more time and end up teaching an extra year. Plus, for ten years, one side of me felt heavier than the other and there was extra tissue under my arm on the reconstructed side. I never had large breasts, but I am very modest and would not go braless when there was a chance my one nipple would show through, if you know what I mean. I HATE wearing bras. And finding a bra for a "one of each" was impossible.

No, I am letting both my girls go. If I miss them too much, I will just get one of those t shirts with the boobs printed on them. Freedom awaits!

Please keep me posted on your thoughts and your journey through this. You are giving me that "there is someone in this boat with me" feeling that is very comforting. I am grateful you are willing to share your thoughts. Thank you!

zahalene's picture
zahalene
Posts: 624
Joined: Nov 2005

I lost my right breast (radical mast) in 1986 at age 38...no recon. Less than 2 yrs later I lost the left one (another radical)...no recon.
It is now 23 yrs next month (July 3) since my first mast. I have no regrets. As someone else noted, the year and a half when I was one-breasted was not easy for me. I am much happier being 'breastless'.
As for dressing and worrying about how I look to others...eh. BTDT, got the t-shirt and left it behind. LOL
I no longer worry about it. I wear comfortable camisoles which are fitted with pockets for my prosthesis when I go out in public, and at home I am fine in an old t-shirt and nothing else (well, on top I mean). If someone comes to the door unexpectedly, well they just have to take what they get....or call first next time.
Like you and others have mentioned, I had ENUF surgery to last me a lifetime and reconstruction just was not something I was interested in. I got over the mastectomies and treatments as soon as possible and moved on. I was married at the time too. Operative word: WAS. Can't say for sure how much my cancer was an issue in the end of my marriage but I figured if he wanted breasts, let HIM have the recon. LOL Anyhoo, I am in a good place now and am verrrry happy to have spared myself the extra angst.
My plan doesn't work for everyone and I certainly don't fault any woman who makes a different decision for herself. I just wanted to let you know that being 'breastless' is not the end of the world.
God bless.

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