If I think how I felt on the morning of this day last year it makes me feel a bit sick. I was overcome with nerves and fear of the unknown. As I walked into theatre I felt an urge to run away from the pain I knew I was about to put myself through and the journey I had ahead of me.
On the other side however, the second I woke up from surgery the relief I felt was instant; knowing I no longer had an 87% risk was incredible.
Six months ago I underwent a second surgery to exchange the expander implants for permanent gel implants and have been incredibly impressed with the results. With a bra or bikini on no one would ever notice the difference and the scars that I have both underneath my breasts and vertically from nipple to the base are healing and fading as time passes.
My nipples and some of my breast are still numb and probably always will be due to the nerves being removed with the breast tissue. My upper body strength has decreased dramatically and I feel myself still being careful. The new implants are in a pocket of my chest muscle which can feel strange at times and can also make my breasts look an odd shape when my muscle is tensed. I will also never be able to breast feed. But all of this is a tiny price to pay for a life free of breast cancer and so much better than the alternative.
I’m going to take a break from my blog and all things BRCA for a little while and concentrate on getting back to normality. I am sure I will start writing and campaigning once again when the time comes to have my ovaries removed to reduce my heightened risk of ovarian cancer also due to the BRCA2 gene. However if there is anyone going through something similar please do contact me, I would be happy to answer any questions that you may have and offer advice.
I want to say a massive thank you to my surgeon for making the process as easy as possible and giving me incredible results. He made me laugh at every appointment and made me feel like he really cared about me and the results. Thank you to the lovely calming anaesthetist that held my hand when I was most scared as I fell under anaesthesia and thank you to all the nurses that looked after me whilst in hospital. Finally thank you to my incredible family and friends for everything that you did to help me through the hardest point in my life so far.
I don’t think I really had a choice whether to have surgery or not, the only choice I had was to have this surgery as a preventative measure or to wait until I actually had cancer. I chose to prevent breast cancer by taking charge and out-smarting my DNA as the alternative didn’t even bare thinking about. Through all the hardship and pain it remains that having my preventive double mastectomy was the best thing that I ever did.