Mastectomy Part 2: Waking Up Boobless

I drag myself awake. There’s a nurse beside me saying my name. People told me that I would feel as though I’d blinked from one moment to the next – pre-op to post – but I don’t. I’m groggy as anything and I feel like I was right in the middle of a good, solid…

Mastectomy: Part 1 (The Great De-Boobing)

The alarm goes off at 5.50am. My bag is already packed: comfortable clothes, a Kate Atkinson detective novel, phone charger, notepad and pen. I have a swift but thorough shower, knowing I won’t be able to shower again for a while. My hair is freshly washed from the night before. I straighten it, so that…

Mastectomy is go!

On Wednesday, I receive a phone call from my consultant breast surgeon. This is not unexpected. I rang the hospital a couple of weeks ago, asking for advice on whether or not I should go on Tamoxifen because of the surgery delay. (Tamoxifen is a chemoprevention drug which is given to patients to control cancer…

The day I didn’t become boobless

So today in a parallel universe – one in which a microscopic virus has not sent humanity hunkering down behind closed doors – I would be having both my breasts surgically removed. The consultant had planned to put me first on the list, in order to be able to monitor my progress through the day,…

Coronavirus

Last summer, I had a short story published in the magazine Mslexia. It was about a global virus that brought civilization to its knees. This has been done before in fiction, in film. Many times. Everyone loves a cosy apocalypse tale – I’m no Nostradamus. But still, when I got out of the car to…

Breast reconstruction: the options

It’s late November. Grey-skied. Damp. My husband and I drop our three-year-old at nursery, then head straight to hospital with the baby for an appointment with the breast reconstruction nurse. J has taken the morning off work. I feel it’s important that he accompanies me for this – not because I need support, but because I want him to be a part of the conversation. The nurse is going to talk us through different kinds of reconstructions, and show us photographs of real patients. J’s always been clear that it’s my body, my choice – wanting only what I want, and what is healthiest for me – but I still want him to be informed, to fully understand the choices I am making.

A breast screening MRI

Firstly, apologies for the long break in transmission. My Instagram started to take off and I got a load of spam / fishy followers, and I had a bit of a freak out about how much I was sharing online! I locked down my Instagram account to private (if you would like to follow me,…

On MRIs and death dates

My MRI breast scan appointment letter arrived last week. It’s scheduled for fifteen years to the day since I lost my mum to breast cancer. Now, I don’t believe in God or fate, but I can’t help but see this as significant. For as long as we have records of human beings on earth, we…

To reconstruct or not to reconstruct?

At long last, I get to go to the breast clinic for my reconstruction assessment. I’m prepped for this. I’ve known that I’m BRCA2 for seven months. In my satchel, I have a print-out of questions for the consultant. On my phone, a screenshot gallery of women with no breasts. I’m going in with an…

Learning to love bottle-feeding

At the moment, the only thing I resent about my BRCA diagnosis is the fact that I have to stop breastfeeding in order to have my surgery. I have loved breastfeeding, and I think any anger I have about my situation is totally channeled into the fact tha tI am now having to bottle feed….