Georgie was unprepared for how she would feel after her mastectomy. She shares how she has been learning to accept the changes to her body.
I was unprepared emotionally for my mastectomy
When I was told I needed a mastectomy, my first thought was, ‘Oh, I will eventually be able to have smaller boobs’.
For me, I found it easier to imagine the end result rather than facing up to the fact that I had breast cancer and would wake up with one breast.
However, reality hit me hard when I came-to after my surgery, with one large breast and zilch on the other side. Emotionally, I was unprepared, and I felt like a freak.
My prosthesis reminded me of breast cancer
Well-meaning friends told me that the fact that the tumour – the ominous ‘thing’ in my breast – was gone was more important than having perfect boobs.
They were right. I tried to push my emotions to one side and concentrate on finding the best-fitting prosthesis.
The hospital provided me with a soft bra and a softie to go inside. This was fine for my mastectomy side, but not for my remaining large breast, which didn’t feel supported. I decided to research prosthetic breast forms – who knew there was so many out there?
I ordered some to try on, but I didn’t like the fit. I felt wonky, lopsided, or worst of all, the prosthesis showed when I bent down.
No matter what other people told me, every time I saw the prosthesis it reminded me that I had breast cancer.
I was so shocked I threw the prosthesis across the table
I ordered a prothesis made from soft material and filled with polypropylene beads. I thought it would be the answer.
I will never forget opening the box and lifting out this enormous heavy thing. I was so shocked by the weight and size of it I threw it across the table.
Eventually I settled for one that the hospital provided. Now, I wish that I had someone to talk to who had been through the process before me to talk about my options and what might come next. Breast Cancer Care’s Someone Like Me service would have helped.They can put you in touch with people who have had different experiences of mastectomy or reconstruction and can talk through how you feel about it.
I wish I had thanked my breasts
A year later, I had a reconstruction. Two years after, I had another mastectomy on my other breast with immediate reconstruction.
I thought I was fine. I had two breasts back and was getting used to seeing my scars every day. Then a few months ago I attended a yoga class called The Awakening Body.
Much to my surprise and embarrassment I burst into tears whilst doing the moves. For the first time since my mastectomies I faced the fact that I had lost two breasts.
They were an integral part of me. My dad, who had died years before, knew me with them, and they had fed my children.
When I was diagnosed with breast cancer, time and making decisions were of the utmost importance. Emotions didn’t really come into the equation.
In hindsight, instead of concentrating on the smaller breasts I was going to get, I wish I had paused. I didn’t think to say goodbye and thank you to my breasts as they were.
I am accepting the changes in my body
Before the yoga class I attended a workshop on fashion and psychology. I learnt that we subconsciously choose clothes in relation to how we feel, be it sadness, anger, surprise, disgust or fear.
After my mastectomy and reconstruction, I think I chose clothes to mask how I felt, or chose outfits that cheered me up and made me feel better. I was still experiencing a lot of emotions about my body, but for me at the time, dressing nicely and putting makeup on what was I needed to do.
There is nothing wrong with covering up or dressing in a certain way. That was what was right for me at that time.
I am still coming to terms with how my body is now. Although I still experience negative thoughts about how I look, those feelings are slowly dissipating. Instead, I am accepting, loving and appreciating the changes in my body.
When you’re facing breast cancer, it can help to talk it through with someone who’s been there too. Find out more about our Someone Like Me service.