Five years ago I walked into my preventative bilateral mastectomy feeling completely terrified and alone.
It was 2017, I was 24 years old at the time, and I didn’t know anyone else my age who was navigating anything remotely similar. Most of my friends were thinking about brunch and dating and they couldn’t wrap their heads around what I was about to go through… and I didn’t want them to. I wanted to protect them.
So I pretended I was confident in my decision (I wasn’t) and told everyone I wasn’t scared (I was) and went through with it anyways.
Over the next five years, I would lose myself, I would question if I made the right decision, I would hate my body, hate my Foobs, and at times even hate myself. There are a lot of intricacies that come with being a Previvor. Previvor guilt is a major one. Another is learning how to wrap your head around the fact that you didn’t technically have to have this surgery. That you, in many ways, chose this for yourself.
The same way that someone may not have to remove themselves from an airplane if the pilot announced that there was an 85% chance the plane would crash. Though, I assume, most of the passengers would get off that plane and perhaps never fly again.
When you have a genetic variant and your oncologist tells you that you have an 85% chance of developing breast cancer in your lifetime, you very much feel as if you are on that airplane.
But then something amazing would happen. I would find myself. I would completely fall in love with myself, my body and my life. In a way that I don’t think would have been possible without making this decision. It has taken me years of rebuilding, reshaping and reframing to feel how I feel today.
So. Much. Hard. Intense. Emotional. Work.
It’s been five years and I’m so grateful that I feel so damn sexy, strong and confident. That I love my body, truly, probably, for the first time in my adult life. That my Foobs finally feel like they are a part of me and not some completely foreign object placed in my chest. That my body feels like my home again, a safe beautiful place that deserves to be celebrated and loved.
As my first surgery in 4 years nears on August 17th I cannot help but feel all of that fear start to creep back in. While I may not be the same young woman I was in 2017, completely alone and uninformed, I am still terrified. Less of the surgery and more of having to rebuild. I am terrified of having to do the work again. To relearn my body. To relearn how to love and accept it. Will I be able to?
Only time will tell… and I have to believe that if I was able to do this before, I should be able to get back here again… (right?)
So if you are reading this and you too are preparing for surgery, I hope you know you are not alone.
Disclaimer: This post/blog may contain information relating to various medical conditions and their treatment. This posting is Paige More’s own personal experience and not to be used as a diagnostic tool. Such information is provided for informational purposes only and is not meant to be a substitute for advice provided by a doctor or other qualified health professional. Patients should not use the information contained herein for diagnosing a health or fitness problem or disease. Patients should always consult with a doctor or other health care professional for medical advice or information about diagnosis or treatment. This posting is Paige More’s own personal experience and not to be used as a diagnostic tool.