Breast Reconstruction and You: Everybody’s Doing It, So Why Don’t We?
Kitt Allan continues our Breast Reconstruction and You Blog Series in anticipation of our Twitter Chat on October 21, Breast Reconstruction Awareness (BRA) Day. We posted part one earlier this week. Learn more about Ms. Allan and her apparel, for which proceeds of sales benefit LBBC.
Reconstruction is a topic near and dear to my heart even though I haven’t had it myself. I was diagnosed with triple negative breast cancer when I was four months pregnant. The doctors on my team – a surgeon, an oncologist, and a high-risk OB, all advised quick action since my tumor was very aggressive and we needed to get as far as possible in my treatment before I gave birth. About a week after diagnosis I had a unilateral mastectomy and then started chemotherapy. I had asked my surgeon if I should have a double mastectomy but she didn’t see it as a good option because my right breast was healthy and she didn’t want to keep me in surgery any longer than necessary.
At the time reconstruction wasn’t an option. The surgeons agreed that with all the body changes of pregnancy it might be as long as two years before my body would settle down enough for a good reconstruction. At the time, hearing that didn’t bother me that much, as you might imagine my main goal was to have a healthy baby and be healthy enough to be a good mom.
I was fit for a prosthetic, or form as I usually call it, and began wearing it. And over the days and months, having a form on one side and a breast on the other became my new body, and surprisingly I became comfortable with it. Sometimes now I even forget that I don’t have two real breasts.
Reconstruction can be made to seem like an inevitable part of the treatment process. Every time I visit my breast surgeon she tells me about all of the new surgical techniques and I have to admit that options have come a long way and more and more women are happy with the results. I listen, always wondering if she’ll say something that changes my mind, but that hasn’t happened yet.
The only time I ever considered reconstruction was while shopping for lingerie and swimwear and I felt limited by the choices available to me. I wasn’t ready to resign myself to frumpy clothes, so through my business I give survivors more choices so that we can all feel comfortable in our own skin and more like ourselves again. I think there are a million great reasons for women to have reconstruction but finding garments that make you feel like yourself shouldn’t be one of them.
“When it comes to reconstruction, and just about anything else in life, I think each woman should decide for herself what she wants to do with her own body.”
When it comes to reconstruction, and just about anything else in life, I think each woman should decide for herself what she wants to do with her own body. From my own experience, I also know that not all women can have reconstruction even if they want it. I design garments that take into account all different choices and realities. While attending LBBC’s Wellness Weekend a couple of weeks ago I was struck by the number of women, many of them young, weighing their options for reconstruction – thinking seriously whether to have it, when to have, or how to have it. I was glad to see them getting information not only from doctors but also from other women who have been there. All women should have as much information as possible to make the best choice for themselves.
I wish that women who can’t have reconstruction, or don’t choose to, had the chance to meet more women like themselves so that they didn’t feel so alone. The truth is we aren’t all doing it and the recent JAMA study showed nearly 60% of women don’t choose to or can’t have reconstruction. I had no idea there were so many women like me.
Over these last few years I continue to educate myself and I am still happy with my decision to stay as I am. First, I couldn’t have reconstruction and once I could I found that I didn’t want it. This is my body now and I’m comfortable with that.