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суббота, 18 марта 2017 г.

‘I begged doctors to remove both my breasts’

Husband Alex supported Lisa through her op

 

When mum-of-two Lisa Roy, 37, made a drastic decision to alter her body, she hoped it would save her life. Here she shares her personal blog...

July 23, 2007
Most women have hang-ups about their bodies. I'm no different. The area I hate the most are my breasts. Not because they're huge, or as flat as pancakes. I hate them because I'm convinced they harbour a deadly disease.
I watched my mum, Diane, die in agony from breast cancer. She was just 39.
I sat with her through her painful chemo sessions, watched as her hair fell out and her weight plummeted till she was just skin and bone.
At the time, I was 21. Her death meant I'm at higher risk of getting breast cancer. So, I've made what most women would think of as an unbelievable decision: to have my own breasts removed as soon as possible.
Breast cancer is rife in my family. Mum developed it aged 34, one of her aunts died of it, as well as several great-aunts on her father's side, so the odds for me don't look good. Since mum died I've wanted regular breast screenings, but I've always been told I have to wait until I'm at least 35.
Of course, I've got on with my life. Along the way I've met and married Alex, had two beautiful sons, Reggie, eight, and Zane, three. Life's good, except I have a deep nagging fear that I'll develop cancer, and I'm terrified I'll die like Mum did.
July 30, 2007
I spoke to my grandad - on my mum's side - and he said I should get myself tested for cancer. He explained he'd been found to carry a gene which meant he's at higher risk of getting the disease. So far, he's fine. I call my GP and request the same test.

With her sons before the op
September 24, 2007
My results are back; I also have the cancer gene. Alex holds my hand as the news sinks in. I'm six times more likely to get cancer than most people.
But to be honest, I'm not surprised. And now I'm more determined than ever to have my breasts removed, and my GP has put me forward for the op on the NHS.
My sister Amanda, 29, will have the blood test in a couple of years. She's just had one baby, and wants another, but says that after that, if she found out she was at risk, she'd be prepared to do what I'm planning.
December 8, 2007
Today was my first appointment with the breast surgeons to discuss my surgery at St Albans hospital. I had a mammogram, which was clear.
But I still want to have the surgery. It's relatively low-risk so I'm not worried about dying on the operating table. However, I'm petrified about how I'll look afterwards.
I'm petrified how I'll look after the op
The surgeon will cut away breast tissue, then place saline implants under my chest muscles. I'll decide if I want nipple reconstruction afterwards.
Of course I'm worried. Will I still feel like a proper woman? Will Alex still find my body attractive?
So far, he's been so supportive. He says that he doesn't care what I end up looking like, as long as I'm healthy.
March 20, 2008
Before my operation I have to meet with a psychiatrist to make sure I understand the consequences of what I'm having done - that I'll be losing my breasts. For many women, they are such a strong part of their feminine identity. I sit with him for a couple of hours answering questions about why I'm doing this. Afterwards he declares me sane, which is a relief! My op can go ahead.

August 8, 2008
I meet my surgeon, Mr Thomson. The procedure I'm having is called a prophylactic bilateral mastectomy - removal of both breasts. I'll have a reconstruction at the same time, with saline implants fitted.
My op is scheduled for November 6. Back home I strip off in the bathroom and look at my breasts. I try to picture what I'll look like without them, but I can't. I've always loved dressing to enhance them, in little vests and low-cut tops, and Alex loves them.
Still, they're only boobs, life is much more important!
November 5, 2008
Today is Zane's fifth birthday and my op is tomorrow. I'm nervous, but also strangely calm, as if it was all happening ¿to someone else. My biggest concern is for my boys. I've explained I'm going to hospital, but that I'm not sick.
They'll have to take the test when they're older, as there's a chance they'll have the cancer gene too. And that terrifies me.
November 6, 2008
Op day. Before I get changed into my gown, I say goodbye to my boobs. I can't wait to get rid of them. Some people might think what I'm doing is extreme, but I feel I have no choice.
November 7, 2008
I come round from my op and feel as if I've been hit by a truck. I can't sit up, so I can't see my chest properly, but it does look quite flat. I don't have much time to think about it though as I'm on morphine and sleep for hours.
November 10, 2008
My dressings were removed today. I forced myself to look at my chest - I wasn't sure what to expect. Would I look deformed?
I look OK! I have a scar under each breast, with a faint line running to where my nipple should be. My breasts are fairly flat, with just a slight curve to them. The implants will be topped up with saline once my wounds have healed. I'll go back up to a C-cup, I hope.
November 18, 2008
Back home, and I'm not allowed to do anything. Alex and the kids have been amazing. He's taken time off work as a builder to be at home with me. I'm a stay-at-home mum usually, but Alex has cooked, cleaned, shopped and waited on me hand and foot. He's sleeping with the boys as he's scared of bumping my chest during the night. I've even got a bell to ring if I need him!
I'm on really strong medication and just about coping with the pain. My chest aches as it gets used to the implants being there.
I want to snuggle into Alex, but I can't because it's too painful for me to be touched. We've always had a very physical relationship, but we haven't had sex since my op. I'm nervous about how it will be when we are intimate again.
I miss cuddles more than my boobs
December 3, 2008
Hurrah! I feel almost back to normal. Alex and I are sharing our bed again. Last night, we even managed to have sex. I was worried how he would react to my new body, but he couldn't have been lovelier, making me feel really comfortable and wanted.
Next step: getting my curves back. My implants will be inflated in a few days.
December 9, 2008
Today I had 80ml of saline injected into my left breast and 60ml into the right as, because I'm right handed, the pectoral muscle is bigger in that side. I'm roughly a B-cup now. They feel tight but not sore.
December 30, 2008
We had a lovely family Christmas. But I'm missing proper cuddles, more than my old boobs! Everyone is afraid to hug me too tight in case they hurt me.
February 14, 2009
I've had my final 'top-up'. I'm a 36C and my old bras fit again! I celebrate by wearing a low-cut top for the evening - one of Alex's favourites. I think he appreciates it!
June 9, 2009
The operation to shape my nipples is scheduled for the end of October. Doctors will raise a bit of skin, then tattoo it to make it the right colour. But bizarrely I'm a bit scared! I've got so used to my smooth boobs without nipples - I suppose if you see something every day, it becomes normal. What if they're not symmetrical?

October 6, 2009
I've postponed my nipple reconstruction surgery as I'm still having doubts. I'm worried about them not looking real...
February 1, 2010
I had my nipple reconstruction three weeks ago and I'm so glad I did it. The op was done under local anaesthetic and they look incredibly realistic already - so I'm very happy.
March 8, 2010
I've been bra shopping; it's such a treat to be able to look for sexy lingerie again. Alex says my new boobs look almost as good as my old ones!
This whole experience has been incredibly worthwhile and I don't regret it for a second.
March 11, 2010
I get my new nipples tattooed in a few weeks' time. Then my breasts will finally be finished. I have to choose what shade they'll be, then I'll have an areola coloured in. I haven't seen the shades yet - but I'm wondering if they will have names, just like lipsticks!
March 25, 2010
I can't wait until my boobs are finished! I'll be fitter and healthier than I've ever been. More importantly, though, as I live healthily my doctors have said I'm now at no higher risk than anyone else of getting breast cancer.
Some people may think my choices were extreme, but they haven't experienced what I have. For me and my family, it was the right decision. It's not been an easy journey, but the chance to grow old with Alex and see my children grow up makes everything so worthwhile.
FACTFILE
What is the cancer gene?
Some women are born with the faulty BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene. It means they have a 50-80 percent chance of getting breast cancer in their lifetime rather than the the UK average of 11 percent.
You are more likely to have a high risk of having it if:
  • Relatives in your family developed breast cancer at an early age (the younger they are, the more likely there is to be a faulty gene in the family)
  • The people who had it are all blood relatives from the same side of the family
  • Someone in your family had cancer in both breasts
  • Men in your family have had cancer in their breast
  • There is also ovarian cancer in your family
How do I find out if I have it?
Your GP can refer you for a blood test which will show if this is the case
What do I do if I have it?
  • Regular breast cancer screenings increase the chance of breast cancer being picked up early enough to cure it
  • Some women choose to have both breasts removed, like Lisa, and immediate reconstruction, which greatly reduces the chance of breast cancer
  • Join a clinical trial; one is currently underway in Edinburgh trialling a drug called Arimidex to see if it prevents breast cancer in women at high risk.
Read more from Lisa about her pre-emptive fight against cancer at Lisaschoice.blogspot.com.

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