Right Mastectomy 2006. DIEP Reconstruction 2008
In December 2005, I was sent a mammogram request letter for my 50th birthday, so I had this done in January 2006. To my relief, on reading the result letter, nothing was found. I have always self-checked, so really never thought that there would be a problem. However, on holiday in April 2006, I found a ridge on the top of my right breast. On return from holiday, I had it checked out but by then it had grown, so something was definitely happening.
Further investigation confirmed I needed surgery and a mastectomy was the only choice. After surgery, I was told the tumour was 12cm aggressive but non- invasive. However, after five months of chemotherapy and six weeks of intensive radiotherapy, I went back on holiday: 50, bald and only one breast. I am a great believer that when I can’t control the things that happen to me, I can control how I deal with them. For the next 18 months I got to know the new me and find out how I was dealing with my new body shape.
At this stage I was offered a reconstruction by my breast care team in Gloucester where I had my surgery and treatment. I was given my options, but heard that a Plastic Surgeon in Frenchay Hospital, Bristol, was also doing reconstruction that would suit me. Although I was happy as I was, I went along to Frenchay to get more information.
The surgery done by Mr Wilson was called a “DIEP flap”, and after consultations I was booked to have the surgery in May 2008. My decision to have a DIEP wasn’t taken likely, as it is a huge operation, but I do not regret it for one moment. Once again, I had to get used to a new body shape. I haven’t had nipple reconstruction, but have had a beautiful tattoo of an opening flower in its place. My scars are the pages to my book and the journey I have taken. I do not compare what I have now with what I had; I look at what I gained since.
“So here I am all these years later using my experiences, emotions and all the information I have gained to help Keeping Abreast empower others on the road to reconstruction.”