I’m planning on a preventive double mastectomy in about six weeks and am keeping it a secret. In fact I don’t intend on revealing to anyone this procedure even long after I’m fully recovered.
You should never feel pressure to tell anybody that you’re going to have a prophylactic double mastectomy.
It Usually Goes As Follows …
• A woman learns she’s at high risk for breast cancer.
• She’s told she qualifies for either a risk-lowering drug such as Tamoxifen, or a double mastectomy.
• Before making the choice, she reveals this information to family and/or friends, even coworkers.
• Now “everybody” knows. But she’s okay with that; she can’t imagine keeping this a secret.
• She chooses the prophylactic double mastectomy – and wastes no time sharing her choice with “everybody.”
• She hungers for the emotional support, the endless questions and comments.
• She’d be lost without all those around her knowing about her very personal situation.
If you’re suffering anxiety over the idea of telling those in your life that you’re going to have a preventive double mastectomy, realize THIS:
It is perfectly okay to keep it a secret!
That’s what I’m doing. After learning my sister had breast cancer, I underwent a risk assessment.
My risk was quantified and is in the range of “eligible” for a preventive double mastectomy.
“Preventive” should actually be replaced by “risk-lowering,” but because “preventive” is a highly searched keyword, I’m using it.
Anyways, I’m keeping my preventive double mastectomy a secret. My parents will never know.
I have no coworkers because I’m a blogger.
I have no close friends (I think I have mild Asperger’s), but if I did, I STILL would not be able to fathom telling them about this exceedingly personal situation.
I refuse to tell my siblings other than one of my brothers. You see, I have NO choice but to tell this brother because I need someone to drive me to and from the hospital.
The hospital policy is that they will not perform the surgery unless, pre-operatively, I have someone with me who confirms that they will be driving me home the next day.
I will tell my brother that I will have his head if he ever reveals my secret to any other living creature.
He doesn’t know yet; but next time I see him, I will explain it all (he has NO idea this is coming).
I won’t even tell the older sister who had breast cancer. Unfortunately – she was never a good sister to me.
Fact is, she was awful. A disease will never unite two adults who don’t think similarly enough to even justify sending holiday cards to each other.
I am doing just fine keeping my preventive double mastectomy plans a secret. I have strenuous gym workouts and my newly-found physical discipline – yoga – to be focused on.
A second brother also lives nearby —he, his wife and three young kids. No way will I tell him or my sister-in-law.
My elderly parents both have heart conditions and my mother worries excessively about her kids. It would be of zero benefit to tell them my secret! Z-E-R-O.
What my body can DO and how healthy and fit it is, is far more important than having breasts.
This is one of the reasons I’m bypassing reconstructive surgery! My natural breast size is sub-A cup. In baggy tee-shirts it sometimes looks like I’ve had a double mastectomy anyways – this is why nobody will be able to tell anything is different post-operation.
All I need do to conceal the double mastectomy is wear this particular bra that I’ve always had that has pre-formed A-cups made of stiff material.
If this bra were on a perfectly flat mannequin, the cups would still be in the shape of “A” sized breasts. If I wear this bra post-breast removal, nobody will have a clue.
In all seriousness, the only way anyone will ever know I’ve had the prophylactic mastectomy is if I blab it to them.
I will not feel that “a part of me” is missing once I have the surgery. There is zero psychological component to any of this. It is a 100 percent medical situation.
In fact, right now my biggest concerns are the general anesthesia and the surgeon telling me I won’t be able to return to the gym for six weeks.
I’m also anxious about the postoperative pathology analysis, even though there have never been any clinical or imaging abnormalities.
Why should I tell anyone about a most private, personal situation? I just want to awaken from the surgery and be hitting the barbells ASAP and kicking a heavybag and trail running after the stitches come out – life going on as usual.
Do not feel guilty about keeping your preventive double mastectomy a secret. But I do realize that for some women this will be more difficult.
If you’re surrounded by many coworkers; if you have naturally large breasts; if everyone normally sees you wearing low-cut clothing – these factors will play into the ability to keep your double mastectomy a secret.
But remember this: You do NOT owe this personal information to anybody (except your driver!).
Lorra Garrick is a former personal trainer certified by the American Council on Exercise. At Bally Total Fitness she trained clients of all ages for fat loss, muscle building, fitness and improved health.