My mother’s story of breast cancer and reconstruction is far different from mine.  She didn’t know if she had cancer until she woke up from surgery and felt her chest.  Her breast was gone.  Reconstruction was difficult at best, as a radical mastectomy left little to work with.  After years of “pulling herself” off the shelf each morning to get dressed, and placing a Nerf ball cut in half inside her bathing suite, she finally opted for reconstruction.  I personally think her decision was influenced after swimming with my then six-month-old son, who grabbed the floating Nerf ball and promptly used it as a teething ring.

Joanne talks about her mother's and her breast reconstruction
Joanne talks about her mother’s and her breast reconstruction

My mother was not happy with the results of her surgery.  The silicone implants were “as hard as rocks,” but she endured the discomfort for while.  A second surgery provided saline implants and comfort for my mother, who talked to me continuously about having a bilateral mastectomy prophylactically.

Well, I didn’t listen to my mother about preventative surgery before being diagnosed.  But I certainly followed her advice in my choice of surgery.  I don’t know what it’s like to be flat-chested.  I have a wonderfully natural chest, and I feel great.  The addition of a tummy tuck to create my breasts was an added bonus.  I knew my options prior to surgery.  And many women openly shared their experiences with me not just about their choice of treatment but also how they felt years later.

My new chest is now six years old and very much a part of me.  I get dressed in the morning as I did prior to my diagnosis.  I’m all here; there isn’t any of me on a shelf.

And, happily, I can admit that mother always does know what’s best.