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Not just for younger women

I have a very demanding job and in recent years, with menopause, had become overweight. In 2011, aged 54, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I had a mastectomy, chemo and am now on hormone therapy.

After research convinced me of the benefits of exercise, I joined a gym, planned a sustainable exercise regime and changed my diet.

I steadily lost weight and built my fitness. Six months after the operation, I returned to work.

Six months later I visited my breast surgeon, explained what I understood as my high risk of contralateral breast cancer and requested a second prophylactic mastectomy. He agreed to do this. I also mentioned that one morning I had woken and forgotten for a few seconds that I had had breast cancer, until I stretched and (not) felt the missing breast.

The surgeon encouraged me to have a reconstruction when I had my second mastectomy, and referred me to a reconstructive surgeon to discuss it.

I contemplated the ‘vanity’ of such an operation. A friend (who was diagnosed with breast cancer three months before me) said it was only for younger women. But I now have a slim and fitter body, with little excess flesh, and I would like to look ‘normal’ in my clothes. The surgeon recommended I have implants and I had tissue expanders inserted at the time of my second mastectomy.

When my skin is stretched enough (I want small breasts this time), the tissue expanders will be replaced with silicone implants.

Ruth, SA