When my surgeon told me that I was going to need a mastectomy (with full lymph node clearance), he appeared slightly incredulous that I was surprised by his announcement.
"Well surely you must have realised that this could have been the case", was his response.
Well, yes, I suppose I did realise, but in my mind, I had obviously started with the best-case scenario of a lumpectomy!
Do I even want a new boob?
As the conversation continued, he asked me what my thoughts were on reconstruction. He told me that lots of women, particularly of my age (37 at the time) opted for it. I mulled it over in my mind there and then, briefly. For some reason, the idea of a reconstruction didn't massively appeal to me. Having never been in this position before of course and given the massive trauma I was at that moment going through, I figured perhaps I wasn't giving it enough thought. To be honest, my prime concern was getting the mastectomy done and the cancer 'gone'.
To his credit, my surgeon explained the pros and cons of having reconstructive surgery - he didn't attempt to persuade me to go one way or another, but did suggest going to see a plastic surgeon. I duly did, and as lovely and informative as the plastic surgeon was, I just couldn't shake the notion that reconstruction wasn't for me. I can't give a concrete answer as to why. Surprising for someone who had revelled in her (pre breast feeding) 32E's that didn't always need a bra!!!
I think it came down to the massively transforming moment of being diagnosed with breast cancer - one that you can never prepare for (and don't expect in your 30's). During those early appointments when the picture around surgery and treatment is becoming clearer, all I could think about was getting rid of 'it'. Everything else, including my appearance (to me and to others) paled into insignificance. It's an incredibly personal thing though - and you can't predict before being in that situation how you might feel.
Needless to say, I've had absolutely no regrets not having a reconstruction. I wear a prothesis for asymmetry out and about but often won't bother around family and close friends at home. And coming up with the idea of Bra Sisters with Kate has meant that I've uncovered lots of great bra options that are pocketed (and non-pocketed too) that I can wear.
I would hope that no one in a similar situation feels pressured into having a reconstruction if they're not sure they want one. Ultimately though, do what feels right to you - new boobs, prothesis, or stay flat.
We're all rocking our own looks!