I Chose a Bilateral Mastectomy

Puyallup Portrait Photographer | Melissa Ide Photography

Why, you ask, would a woman choose a bilateral mastectomy? Well, this cancer thing has been a six month battle. Already! It has passed so quickly, like a whirlwind. The last appointment with my surgeon, Dr. Stowell, was very positive, a lumpectomy with removal of a few lymph nodes, followed with radiation. My MRI had shown a complete resolution of abnormal cells, basically the cancer was non-existent on the scan.

So why the mastectomy? What changed literally overnight? My surgeon presented my case to her board after my appointment and they decided that because I am so young, 38 years old, the chance of recurrence was too high. So, the very next day I received a call from my surgeon with the news. She believed as they did and presented the option of a mastectomy. I calmly thanked her for calling and hung up the phone. Jay could tell that I was upset, I walked outside, shut the door, and sat on the porch. We had been fighting so hard to kill this cancer crap and it still resulted in the mastectomy. I was still going to have to alter my body significantly. I was livid!

Dr. Stowell suggested a plastic surgeon for me to talk through my options with. Dr. Realica was awesome to meet and answered all of my questions. We discussed options, what the surgery would be like, and approximate recovery time. I left with a few options and lots of things to think about.

After spending a few days thinking things through I decided that I would have a bilateral mastectomy. I realized that if I had to go through all of this insane cancer crap I might as well have a small perk. Or two new perks in this case. It turns out that there is a law that requires insurance companies to cover any reconstruction or alteration to the ‘healthy’ breast to create a matched set. Yay for me!

On Oct. 9 I made the journey over to Tacoma General to have my pre surgery appointment. I went over a few things with the nurses, had an EKG, and a chest x-ray. I received all of the information for the night before surgery, like no food or beverage after midnight. Paperwork for medications and aftercare.

The doctors plan on my staying in the hospital for one night. It has been determined that the risk of infection is higher if I remain in the hospital longer than the 24 hours that is anticipated and I have been encouraged to try to get home as quickly as I can. Our goal will be to establish control over any pain that I will be having and to make sure that I understand how to work the drains that will be inserted during the surgery.

We anticipate at least four weeks of recovery time, which means at least a four week medical leave from work. There is a possibility that I will also be returning to work part time initially but hopefully that won’t be the case. I plan to take it very easy and to ask for help often during recovery.

I am nervous and scared. The surgery itself is overwhelming. I don’t like the after effects of the anesthesia, it has made me sick in the past. I love the idea of living a long, healthy life so the scary stuff will just have to hurry up and get over.

Surgery is Thurs. Oct. 16 and at this point it can’t get here soon enough. I’ll take any positive thoughts and energy the universe can muster up.

Puyallup Senior Photography