Sally Anne Watkiss has written a great article about choosing to be Flat and Fabulous in Thats Life magazine this week:
Undergoing a mastectomy prompted Sally-Anne to make a brave decision…
“As I leant across my desk at work, I felt an itch under my left arm. Reaching to scratch it, I froze. There was a lump. But back at at home, I dismissed my fears. ‘It’s probably just hormonal changes,’ I said to my husband Jeff. At 48, I was going through the menopause. Only, two weeks later, it was still there, so I went to my GP. He said it was likely to be an infection, but referred me to the breast clinic to be safe. There, a mammogram and ultrasound didn’t pick up anything. Later though, I had a biopsy of the lump under my arm. And then came the words that shifted my world off its axis… ‘We think it’s a rare breast cancer,’ the doctor said. ‘It’s manifested itself in your lymph nodes.’
I turned to Jeff in disbelief. I had a busy life as a high-flying accountant. I couldn’t have cancer. I needed surgery to remove my left breast and the tumour, then chemo and radiotherapy. ‘We can leave the right breast and you can check yourself regularly for any lumps,’ the consultant went on. But I just wanted to get rid of it. It was like a ticking time bomb. ‘Wait until after your treatment,’ the doctor advised. But I’d never defined myself by my 38C breasts. So days later, when I woke from the surgery and saw my left breast had gone, I felt fine. I’d assumed I’d have a reconstruction, but I was told that it wasn’t recommended before radiotherapy as it can make the implant misshapen. That decided it. I’d never have any sensation in it anyway, so why go through more surgery?
Next I had six chemo sessions. Losing my hair felt more of an ordeal than losing my breast. The Breast Cancer Care charity was my lifeline. On its online forum, I bonded with other women, and we dubbed ourselves ‘the chemo bunnies’ as we’d all started treatment at Easter.
After radiotherapy, I knew I wanted my right breast removed – even though it was healthy. I was obsessively examining it, so stressed that I’d find something. Jeff supported my decision. So, a year after my first mastectomy, I had it removed.
Three weeks later, I wore a Vivienne Westwood dress and danced at my 50th birthday party – without my protheses. There’s nothing wrong with having implants, but deciding to stay flat should also be seen as a positive, valid choice.
I want to show women that you can look flat and fabulous.
October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
For more info, visit www.breastcancercare.org.uk.
Also see www.flatfriends.org.uk