Palliative Careís New Reputation in Cancer Care
September 18, 2017 – Kathy LaTour
Hear My Voice: Advocating For Cancer Care and Research
September 18, 2017 – Martha Carlson
The Importance of Positive Self-Talk During Cancer
September 18, 2017 – Bonnie Annis
Chemo Brain: The Elephant in the Room
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When Cancer's Side Effects Return
September 15, 2017 – Barbara Tako
With Cancer, Itís a Small World
September 14, 2017 – Khevin Barnes
Tips For Cancer Newbies From A Two-Time Survivor
September 14, 2017 – Barbara Tako
Coming to Terms With Pinktober
September 14, 2017 – Bonnie Annis
Accepting Othersí Decisions to Continue or End Cancer Treatments
September 13, 2017 – Martha Carlson
Remission Is Just A Word That Makes Other People Feel Better
September 13, 2017 – Kate Beland

Take Them Both Off: Women More Often Want a Bilateral Mastectomy

Women want bilateral mastectomy more often, and many are getting it.
PUBLISHED September 08, 2017
Kathy LaTour is a breast cancer survivor, author of The Breast Cancer Companion and co-founder of CURE magazine. While cancer did not take her life, she has given it willingly to educate, empower and enlighten the newly diagnosed and those who care for them.
I fairly begged my surgeon to take both my breasts off when I was I diagnosed with breast cancer at age 37. The way I looked at it, I had many years ahead of me, and, with a 1-year-old to raise, I didn’t want any more surprises. There was no cancer in my family and the year I was diagnosed, 1986, and there was much more we didn’t know about risks of keeping both breasts. To me, that would be an argument to remove it, but to the medical community, it was reason not to.

Bottom line: my surgeon refused to remove a healthy breast no matter what I wanted. It was seen as me being hysterical. When I had a second breast cancer 21 years later in the other breast, it was hard not to be really angry. If I had them both removed at first, the reconstruction would have matched much better and I wouldn’t have had to go through dealing with cancer again – even though it was a very early diagnosis.

I was not reconstructed immediately due to the severity of my prognosis. They did not want to do reconstruction until they thought I would live long enough to enjoy it.

As it was, I had to argue with the insurance company initially about the “cosmetic” surgery needed to have the two breasts match. The quotes are mine. When they called it cosmetic, I reminded them that cosmetic inferred it was unnecessary but just something I wanted to do to feed my vanity. I felt like their idea of me was that I should be happy living with one breast that looked like I was 18: firm and high through the miracle of reconstruction. The other breast looked like what it was – the breast of a woman who had given birth and was pushing 40. Not to mention, the reconstructed breast would stay perky.

So, between the anxiety of having a second breast cancer and wanting the reconstruction to match, having them both removed would have been much better for me.

Today, more women are demanding bilateral surgery than ever, and some studies show a significant increase – and many for the same reasons I had more than 30 years ago.

What infuriates me is when a doctor says something misogynistic such as, “Surely you want to have a breast you can feel for intimacy.” How dare they assume to know what I want or how I feel about my body. What was much more important to me was to guarantee I would not deal with cancer again.
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