CHILLI'S BLOG: Why I Chose to Have a Preventive Double Mastectomy

I want to start off by saying this blog isn't about trying to convince you to do what I did. It's MY story...and I wanted to share it with people who had never heard it before.

In order to understand why I chose to have a double mastectomy even without a breast cancer diagnosis, I'll have to give you a back story of my mother. It was 2005. My mother had been complaining to doctors for months about abdominal pain. They said it was probably related to stress. They were wrong. It was stage 3 ovarian cancer. She was only 55. A genetic test revealed that she was BRCA2 positive. A genetic mutation which increases a person's chance for ovarian and breast cancer. Sadly my mother passed away in 2009. My sister and I decided to get tested for the same mutation a year after she died. We both tested positive. I had just gotten married to Don and I knew we wanted to start a family. I also knew I would get a hysterectomy and double mastectomy after I was done having kids. Every doctor I spoke to encouraged the preventive measures.

While Don and I tried to start a family, I was vigilant about getting mammograms and MRI's on a regular basis. I did self-checks ALL THE TIME. I listened to my body...and if anything seemed "different", I immediately spoke to my doctor. I waited until Donato was a couple of years old to get my hysterectomy. At that point, we knew he was going to be an only child. A year after that surgery, I made plans for the much more invasive surgery...a double mastectomy with reconstruction. Did I have doubts? No. Was I nervous about recovery? YES. I knew it was going to be rough...and it was. However, I never regretted the decision.

I know there's still a chance I could get cancer. However, I won't be kicking myself for not doing more to prevent it. My body has been thru a lot. Menopause has not been "fun." My breasts are nowhere near "perfect." I will probably need to have another breast surgery for revisions...but I honestly don't have any desire to do that right now. I'm so thankful for my husband and my son. THEY are my "why". I want to be around as long as I can for THEM.

I was talking to a friend of mine recently who told me she had NEVER had a mammogram. I asked her why. She ran down the typical excuses. By the end of our chat, she promised to make an appointment. I told her I would circle back with her in a couple of weeks to make sure she follows through...and you know I will. Too many people lose their lives to breast cancer. Early detection can be a game-changer. Please, please, please...take care of your tatas.

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