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8 things you can not tell someone after a mastectomy

Eight months ago I found out that I carry a BRCA gene mutation which means that my chance of getting breast cancer in my life is really high – I speak as high as a 56 percent risk . We carry all BRCA genes ; The function of genes BRCA1 and BRCA2 is to act as tumor suppressors. Because my BRCA2 gene is mutated, it is much more susceptible to breast cancer and ovarian cancer than to the general population.

I originally never intended to find out this information. I did a 23 and Me test to find out my ancestral DNA and added the health report option to my package, mostly out of curiosity. At that time, the health report option did not offer BRCA testing. Following this, I received an e-mail from 23 and Me stating that she had received FDA clearance for a direct cancer screening for cancer, including three BRCA gene mutations ̵

1; and customers were able to decide for themselves and when they wanted to receive it the report.

I did not really know much about what it meant to test positive for a BRCA mutation, and I did not have a clear understanding of how this could affect someone's life, but I knew that the mutations on the they could test were most common among people of Ashkenazi Jewish descent who I am. The company also provided a set of information to read before deciding to continue the BRCA tests. And after doing a lot more research myself, I decided to make that decision.

After my findings were received, I immediately came to a genetic counselor who validated my findings with a blood test, helped me to understand my risks, and all assessed perspective. In such a time, I certainly needed perspective. Working with a genetic counselor is strongly recommended to correlate your findings, as previously reported by SELF . However, I would like to emphasize that using a home genetic test kit to determine your BRCA status has both advantages and disadvantages, and is a very individual decision. You can learn a lot more about who can be linked to cancer risk genetic testing for cancer risk and how to use it responsibly here .

After many tears and conversations with my family and friends, I knew I knew it. I wanted to do everything I could to reduce my risk for breast cancer. For me, meant a preventive double mastectomy .

Now, two months after the procedure, I share my story to help others better understand what it means to go through a mastectomy – and what not. That does not mean that.

At the age of 31, I never thought that I would call myself an "expert" in the procedure. When life gave me very fragile lemons, I tried to make the best damn lemonade I could, and for me, it meant spreading knowledge and even helping people who might know someone like me and be as supportive as she can.

One thing I learned: When I ask about my operation, people often talk to me about a lot of misinformation and make themselves insensitive to my experience, whether they want to avoid it that way or not.

Of course, if someone you know is going through or going through a mastectomy, it's hard to say the right things. This is definitely a sensitive topic. Therefore, when talking to a breast cancer survivor or the previvor (19459030) (this is the term we use for someone who has a predisposition to cancer, but none has, for sure, did not actually have the disease) and avoids the language that could offend the person or perpetuate the myths about mastectomies and / or breast cancer.

Here are the comments that I definitely did not want to hear (yes, people really said things for me) and a few suggested support methods that I find more helpful instead.

. 1 Do not say, "You are still too young to have a mastectomy."

When I decided on a preventive double mastectomy at 31, I often heard comments about how I was "too young" to do this procedure to have. It is important to know that cancer does not disadvantage old age. Besides, we should all be able to decide what we want to do with our own body without judgment.

Not that I owe anyone an explanation, but as I mentioned earlier, I am also Ashkenazic-Jewish and have a family history of breast and ovarian cancer, which I learned more about after my DNA test and after talking to my family have. Therefore, it made a lot of sense for me to go through my preventive double mastectomy as early as possible in my life.

Such a comment sounds to me as if you think I made a careful decision about my health, which is not the case. This is a private, personal decision that I have met with support and education from the appropriate health professionals.

Instead, you can say, "I can only imagine how difficult that must have been for you and how emotional this decision must have been. "

. 2 Do not say, "But you did not even have cancer, right?"

This commentary is specifically for preventionists like me. If you know someone who is a preventative, avoid this question as this comment will certainly turn his experience down and feel like a slap in the face.

The decision for a preventive double mastectomy is extremely difficult I mentioned. Although this person did not have a cancer diagnosis, this could have happened in the future if she had not taken preventive steps.

You may also want to comment on how brave and proactive she is. because that's how I felt when I took this important step in my life.

. 3 Do not say, "It's like a free boob job!"

I actually heard that comment many times and it never got easier to hear. A mastectomy is not but a free boob job repeats, not a free boob job.

In a cosmetic breast augmentation, the surgeon does not remove the breast tissue to reduce the risk of a potentially life-threatening mastectomy disease, just what happens, in general it is also a more complicated operation . Sometimes the surgeon also removes your nipples and lymph nodes.

I would also argue that the emotional toll that can not be compared to that of breast augmentation, I am not saying this is to hurt or diminish the emotions of a person who for some reason has had breast augmentation, but they just are not the same Thing To offend my injury, my mastectomy and my reconstruction were certainly It's not free because I opted for a doctor outside the network – so a comment of the wound can only be salt Add.

Just do not compare these two operations. And if you have a breast augmentation, try to avoid saying that you can "fully relate" the person who has undergone a mastectomy. This may feel like you are minimizing the experience of a mastectomy, even if it is not involuntary. Just ask how they feel and if there's something specific to be there for them right now.

This brings me to my next questions without questions …

4. Do not ask, "Can I see your new tits? How tall have you gone?

If your friend has not offered to see his body after surgery, then it's quite presumptuous to ask that question. If I did not have a mastectomy, would you normally see my breasts or ask my bra size? The answer is probably no. This question can make the other person uncomfortable and uncomfortable, even if you are really close to them.

In addition, this question suggests that the person who underwent a mastectomy was also reconstructed . But not everyone decides on a reconstruction and lives instead what I would like to call flat and fabulous. Just as you ask someone how much he weighs, it is better to skip this question.

Even if you have a close relationship with this person and think that it is okay to be outwardly curious, it is better to say nothing or follow their lead.

. 5 Do not say, "Wow, your scars are so big."

Any negative or judgmental commentary on a person's operation is not appreciated. Most people already feel a little bit conscious about mastectomy when it comes to their recovery. If you point out something that is traditionally considered an imperfection, such as a scar, it will most likely be remembered forever as a flashy or attention-grabbing mindset.

Instead of causing physical marks during a patient's mastectomy, you should not talk about it How brave and beautiful is it inside and out?

. 6 Do not say, "Just be happy that you're healthy now."

It makes me feel like you are reducing my emotions. If you go through a mastectomy, as you can imagine, many annoying thoughts and feelings come to mind. And frankly, I still feel bad because sometimes I feel bad.

We tend to think I should just be happy that I am well now. When we hear the same from our friends or even strangers it can be very daunting. For people who have gone through this, it is extremely important to feel all the emotions that come to them, even when we feel overwhelmed or regret ourselves. We can be our own toughest critics, so it is not encouraging for us to assume that we should make an effort.

. 7 Do not say, "Do you feel less like a woman?"

When I've taken off my breasts, I do not feel like a woman – and you certainly do not have to have breasts to identify a woman. My courage, my bravery and my strength determine for me the definition of my wife.

Being a woman can be defined in millions of ways and interpreted as human beings want. And implies that breasts are an identifying characteristic of a particular sex or that they are required to fulfill a particular ideal of what a woman is believed to look or look like is a seriously offensive and outdated one Way of thinking

8. Do not say: … nothing at all.

It's hard to know what to say to someone who has gone through or been through. Staying still or delaying communication with a person who has undergone a mastectomy or is just recovering may feel lonely at the other end. If you are sincere and thoughtful, all simple, loving, kind words are appreciated.

My best advice at the end of the day is to let the breast cancer survivor or survivor take the lead in this discussion. Being a good listener and giving us space to share our true feelings is what we are looking for.


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