Must I have a mastectomy?
For a woman considering testing, the idea that your only option for managing breast cancer risk (should you be identified as having a BRCA gene fault) is to remove your breasts can be very overwhelming.
No doubt a storm of thoughts and questions will rush to mind. ‘But it’s major surgery and I’m scared’. ‘But my breasts are a big part of my body image and femininity’. ‘But what if I want to breastfeed’. ‘But someone I know had complications after her operation’. ‘But I won’t be able to work or look after my family during the recovery period’. And the list may go on.
The first thing to keep in mind is this: having a mastectomy is not your only option
And beyond this, there are other really important points to bear in mind.
- It is normal to find the idea of major surgery scary
- You may feel differently when faced with the reality of a positive test result (and even if you don’t, that’s okay)
- No one can or will force you in to having surgery
- It is both valid and clinically acceptable to decline or delay surgery and choose other options
- Any women with a positive BRCA test result is guided by professionals in understanding the benefits and risks of surgery (and the other risk management options) and is able to make their own decision in their own time
- There are national and community resources out there that can help you to make the decision about surgery, as well as ‘hold our hand’ if you go ahead with it
To hear Xs personal story of her mastectomy journey, click here
To read more about the risk management options for women, click here
To explore other information and support resources for individuals identified as having a BRCA gene fault, click here.