When you discover you have breast cancer and the doctor recommends you having a breast mastectomy is the best course of treatment, your world collapses and you begin thinking about what it will mean about your future. Yes there are millions of women who have received this diagnosis, gotten the operation and live normal lives, but that is little comfort when you are being told that you will join their ranks.
The truth of it all is that nearly every woman goes through the same set of feelings and fears about the operation and life after it. And the main concerns relate to how you will adjust. Will you feel the same as you did before? Can you maintain your femininity? Will you friends and family treat you the same? Will you and your partner feel the same about intimacy?
Part of these concerns have to do with the new physical appearance you will have. There will no doubt be a scar and depending upon what the doctors find, there will need to be a small or large amount of tissue removed. How will it look when things are done simply cannot be known beforehand, but there are some things to bring you comfort.
New Options for Women who get a Breast Mastectomy
Women can now opt for breast replacement which will occur during or soon after the breast removal operation. This allows for the woman to not lose her feelings of being a woman due to the dramatically different look that occurs when one or both breast are removed. In fact, there are surgeries to replace tissue in the breast and even to spare the nipple which is often removed during a breast mastectomy. These operations go a long way toward helping a woman adjust to their new body.
Dealing with Your Body After Surgery
When you have breast surgery it will take some time to adjust to your new body. There will be one or more scars and swelling and bruising that accompanies any surgery and it will take a long time for the pain and swelling to go away and you may never get comfortable with the scars.
If you have opted to breast reconstruction, you will need to get used to having different breasts and a foreign object (the breast implant), in your body. If you have opted to only have the breast removed with no replacement, you will need time to about to have a much smaller or perhaps no breasts.
Many women who do not have breast reconstruction opt for a prosthesis that is worn inside the bra to simulate a breast. From a physical standpoint either choice will cause you to change the types of clothes you used to wear and how you carried yourself. This will also take some time and may never become totally comfortable for you.
Dealing with Your Feelings After Surgery
When women have a breast mastectomy, they have different reactions. A very few have no mood issues. But for the most part, immediately and shortly after breast mastectomy surgery women go through extreme psychological and mental issues. Many women think they will never feel like they felt previously, and that their lives have taken a turn toward terrible and will never turn back.
Many also become concerned about how their loved ones, friends and co-workers will see and think of them. They suffer lack of self-confidence, depression, grief, anger, fear, frustration and anxiety. They also find themselves with severe mood swings and an inability to think about positive things in their future. These feeling can last a long time especially if the woman isolates herself from loved ones.
What Women can do to Get their Lives Back
The most important thing for women to know when they are experiencing these feelings is that with time and the right actions, things will get better and even turn back to normal. A few things that help many women through this tough period are to:
- Spend time with friends and family who are supportive and loving.
- Join a support group of women who have had the surgery. These groups are in nearly every town and can be found online.
- Don’t be so hard on yourself. As mentioned this issue affects millions of women. It is not your fault and you are not alone.
Getting through breast mastectomy surgery is physically, mentally and emotionally challenging. But with some patience and support, a woman can get her life back.