Sunday, December 13, 2009

Tammy's Breast Reconstruction Journey. Part 2 - Making The Decision

by Tammy Carrington

After getting over the shock of hearing the “C” word, I began my quest for knowledge. I went into research mode, reading and devouring everything I could lay my hands on. I literally spent the next 30 days reading and gathering all the information that I could find. I found it almost impossible to sleep (getting maybe 2-3 hours sleep each night) because I knew I needed to gather the information to make the “right” decision because I have a special needs child who relies on me.

I spoke to many other women both in person and in online in some of the breast cancer forums. I found myself on the PRMA website many times during my search for information and I was impressed with the amount of information there.

I discovered that Dr. Chrysopoulo had written a great deal of information on breast cancer and reconstruction and I read all of it that I could find.  He was able to explain things in a way that was easy to understand. I also listened to a one-hour radio interview that he did on breast cancer and reconstruction. He really impressed me with his compassion and he seemed to understand what a difficult and emotional decision that this was for all women.  He seemed to “get it”.

I made the decision to have a bilateral mastectomy because I wanted (and needed) peace of mind and I knew that I would worry every year that I could get it again in my other breast.  I decided to take away that risk now. I absolutely did not like the way I felt with this breast cancer diagnosis and I knew that I never wanted to be in this “place” again and didn’t want to have to have this worry again. The stress, the tears, the fear, and the unknown were traumatic enough, but also coupled with emotional upset… I just wanted to get through this and move on with living my life again.  One of my doctors told me that by doing the bilateral mastectomy, it would get me cancer free and keep me that way for a very long time. I needed that kind of peace of mind.

Everything that I read said that when a woman has a mastectomy and wakes up and still has breasts, it is emotionally and psychologically so much better than waking up without breasts. I felt that it would be important for me to have reconstruction immediately following the mastectomy. I didn’t want to wait to have it done later. I also knew that not many places offered immediate reconstruction following mastectomy and I realized as I spoke with other women that not many realized immediate breast reconstruction was even an option. I felt blessed to have found this out.

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