Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Musings five years post-surgery

My photograph from the Tribune article.
Recently, the Chicago Tribune published an article about options after mastectomy surgery, which featured BreastFree.org. The story was syndicated across the country in print and online. Here's a link to the article as it appeared in the Miami Herald: "Not all women choose reconstruction after mastectomy; the options are many."

Publication of the article coincided almost to the day with the fifth anniversary of my bilateral mastectomy surgery. It was a great way for me to mark that milestone and to reaffirm my decision not to have reconstruction.  

I was delighted that the article presented a balanced look at the choices available for women after a mastectomy and particularly pleased that the reporter, Alexia Elejalde-Ruiz, highlighted my view that many women who choose not to have reconstruction still feel "whole" after the surgery.  

As some of you probably know firsthand, doctors frequently urge their patients to have reconstruction, believing that they won't feel happy without it. While I agree that reconstruction helps some women feel normal and whole after a mastectomy, I've met countless others who have chosen not to reconstruct and nevertheless feel complete as women. One of the missions of BreastFree.org is to educate doctors and encourage them to present non-reconstruction as a viable and positive option for their patients. So, I was very glad the Tribune story mentioned this issue.

The Tribune article also represented my coming-out party. While I've been very open about my surgery with friends and family, I've chosen not to include my full name on BreastFree.org, nor has it appeared in any other published materials. It felt good to finally put myself out there. Over the years, as I've met and communicated with so many women who have chosen not to have reconstruction, I've realized what a special sisterhood this is. I'm proud to be a member!