In our latest blog, Sarah Coombes wonders why her health professionals don’t seem to understand that no really does mean no…
“Have you thought anymore about reconstruction?”
Over two years after my bilateral mastectomy I am still asked this question by my surgeon and my oncologist. I am not sure what else I can say, how clear I can make it.
I have told them that I am a trustee of Flat Friends UK (a charity which supports women who have had, or are facing, mastectomy without reconstruction).
I have told them about my website Flatter Fashion, where I share tips on clothes which flatter a single or double flat chest.
Last Christmas I even bought them each a Flat Friends UK calendar; I am on June, July and December.
My flat chest is a huge part of my identity, much more so than my old DDs ever were!
When my surgeon gave me my diagnosis of breast cancer in December 2014, she went through my treatment options: a lumpectomy, which would involve removing most of my right breast including the nipple, or a right mastectomy. As soon as I was told that the lump in my right breast was cancer, I knew that I wanted a mastectomy. I also knew that I did not want to try and rebuild what was being removed. So, I asked for a bilateral mastectomy with no reconstruction so I could be flat and symmetrical; but, there was an assumption that as a young woman (I was 35) I would want reconstruction:
“Are you sure you don’t want implants, they’re very safe now”
“We can offer implants to make you bigger”
“You’ll find it hard to find nice clothes, so you should use prostheses even if you don’t go for reconstruction.” “You will be very flat”.
And I am. I am very Flat. No excess skin was left ‘just in case’, and I have neat scars which follow the curve of my ribs. I am also very happy. My chest looks just how I hoped it would: even, symmetrical, and flat.
So, I wonder why my surgeon and oncologist don’t see my chest as a job well done, the finished article; a positive outcome. Cancer in the bin, and a cosmetic finish to boot.
I am fit and well. I am loved by my family and friends, old and new. I have a new career. I can still wear flattering clothes, which I feel confident in. I am still a woman.
So I wonder, what do others think implants, and shifting my body muscle about, will add to my being? What is it that they think I am missing?
I wonder if women who choose reconstruction have their decision questioned so thoroughly?
“Have you thought anymore about not having reconstruction?”