Friday, May 17, 2013

ways to cope with a DOUBLE MASTECTOMY

Women undergoing preventive mastectomies are finding unique ways to cope with losing their breasts. There is an article about two sisters who had the genetic breast cancer gene on Body + Soul and they share their story here by having a farewell boobs celebration.

A genetic counsellor ran her through her options – undergo regular screening for early detection or have preventive surgery, which would reduce the likelihood of breast cancer by 90 per cent. But it wasn’t a decision she took lightly. She spent three years exploring her options and talking with her mother, doctors, counsellors, friends and family before signing up for a double mastectomy.

The facts in regards to genetic breast cancer are as follows:
  • Testing for abnormal genes has been in use since 1997.
  • The test looks for mutations in certain genes (BRCA1 and BRCA2 are the most common) that indicate an increased risk of breast cancer, as well as other cancers.
  • Mutations are not common – there is a one in 850 chance of having a BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutation in the general Caucasian population. The number is higher for some groups (such as those with Ashkenazi Jewish ancestry or from Swedish, Norwegian or Icelandic lineage, or with strong family histories of breast cancer).
  • Between five and 10 per cent of breast cancers are thought to be caused by abnormal genes.
  • The number of women undergoing breast cancer gene-testing has doubled in the past five years.

Ways to cope with surgery
  • Set up a support network. Include your family, friends and volunteers.
  • Don’t be shy – ask for help. If someone asks, "Can I help?" your answer should be "Yes".
  • Write up lists of what needs to be done, as well as a master list with all important contact numbers.
  • Always remember the pain will subside and life will return to normal.
  • Listen to your doctors and give your body time to heal.     

It's still possible to feel great and have a positive body image after a mastectomy, as these women explain.
Mastectomy is the medical term for the surgical removal of one or both breasts. The procedure usually involves removing the whole breast, and often the nipple and lymph nodes. But while losing such a key part of womanhood is very challenging, it doesn't have to mean the end of life as you know it. You can read more at Life after a mastectomy

I found it important to share as there are so many that go through this procedure and reading others experiences can help guide and maybe even a light at the end of the tunnel.

To all those going through breast cancer or a mastectomy I wish you all well and send loads of courage and hope your way. xx

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