As part of #MolkeBreastFest we want to put boobs front and centre. We are going to be sharing the stories of different people and their reality of having boobs. This is Anne's story. Please note this blog has a content warning for discussions of cancer and reconstructive surgery.
I attended a routine mammogram appointment in 2017 and a few weeks later I was recalled for another as something was seen on my results. I thought - this is it I have cancer and what are we going to do about it. After some more tests it was confirmed.
My next thought was how am I going to tell the kids.
My oncologist, surgeon and breast care nurses were fantastic. The whole team whom I met were honest and straight to the point which I totally was happy with. We discussed my choices at length and my husband was fully included in this. No question was too silly or unreasonable.
Ultimately, all decisions were mine, but my husband was a great sounding board. I’m also lucky have a friend who was a radiographer and I found her advice tremendously helpful.
I was very lucky there was no spread to my lymph nodes of the cancer so if I had reconstruction I would be cancer clear as long as I continued to take medication. There wasn’t the same guarantee with a lumpectomy and I did not want an implant as, to me, it felt like taking something nasty out and putting another unknown into my body. After I made the decision to go for reconstruction my surgeon gave me two options, and with his expertise it was decided I would go for an LD flap. This is where tissue is partly detached from your back and brought round to your chest under the original skin.
I later decided to go for a nipple tattoo, as nipple reconstruction involves more plastic surgery. There was no need for more operations when I am perfectly happy with what I have. A nipple tattoo was just a nod.
Recovery takes time but with amazing follow up and a family who loves me for who I am we made it. I will never have the same strength on one side due to lack of muscle but it is really not that noticeable. When I press my boob in a certain place I can feel it in my back and sometimes when I laugh it moves up and down. We find it amusing, it has a wee life of its own!
I’ve always struggled with body image issues, but I knew we had to move forward and a lot of what helped me through was the amazing support from my husband, children and friends and family. A lot of how people feel about themselves is defined by how we think we are supposed to look which is sad. I realised I am still me, just a bit wonky and that is fine.
During everything, a positive attitude went a long way to lifting my spirits and the spirits of those around me too. I’m definitely much more positive towards life and myself and know that there are people out there far worse off than me.
I know that the decisions made were correct. I see my boobs as just that, my boobs. They were never twins and still are sisters. At no time have I been embarrassed by or hidden my scars or what has happened to me. It is just another part of my story.