The Emotional Journey of Breast Reconstruction After Mastectomy
Going through breast cancer is a devastating and emotional journey that requires many choices to be made – beginning with treatment. Every woman's journey with breast cancer is unique, and treatment decisions should be made on an individual basis. The treatment plan for breast cancer depends on various factors, such as the stage of cancer, the size and location of the tumor, and individual patient preferences. If surgical removal is deemed necessary, your surgeon will recommend one of two types of breast surgery approaches:
Also known as a lumpectomy or partial mastectomy, breast-conserving surgery involves removing the tumor and a surrounding margin of healthy tissue while preserving the majority of the breast. Following breast-conserving surgery, radiation therapy is typically recommended to destroy any remaining cancer cells in the breast.
A mastectomy is a surgical procedure in which the entire breast tissue is removed. The extent of the mastectomy can vary, ranging from the removal of the entire breast, including the nipple and areola, known as a total or simple mastectomy, to more extensive procedures that may involve removing lymph nodes from the underarm region.
Depending on your individual cancer treatment plan, you may have immediate or delayed reconstruction following the surgical removal of cancer. The timing of your breast reconstruction post-mastectomy is an important decision that depends on various factors, including your emotional readiness, physical health, lifestyle, and personal preferences.
Although a woman goes through physical changes during this difficult time, she also goes through emotional and psychological challenges as well. There are days when you may not feel like yourself, and that is completely warranted. To have a part of your body no longer there or look completely different can be alarming and can interfere with your self-image and confidence. We recommend the following tips for getting through breast cancer treatment:
Give Yourself Permission to Explore All Options
When facing a life-threatening disease like breast cancer, it's natural for women to worry about their physical appearance. Some may feel conflicted, even guilty, for focusing on their outer appearance amidst such a significant health challenge. However, it's crucial to recognize that wanting your outward appearance to reflect your inner self is a perfectly normal desire. There is nothing selfish about exploring all the options available to you, including breast reconstruction.
Breast reconstruction can help restore confidence, self-esteem, and a sense of wholeness after mastectomy. It allows women to regain a sense of control over their bodies and reclaim their femininity. It's a personal decision that varies from person to person, and it's essential to honor and respect individual choices.
Moreover, it's worth noting that in many cases, breast reconstruction is covered by insurance as a part of cancer treatment. Understanding the financial aspects and potential coverage can alleviate concerns and make the process more accessible to those who desire it.
Find Cancer Support Group & Lean on Loved Ones
Be transparent about the emotions you are feeling – whether it be anger, grief, fear, or sadness. Confide in a loved one who can help support you during this time and communicate your needs to them. Consider joining a breast cancer support group where you can ask questions and find guidance. Or explore our video library of breast cancer patient stories to hear first-hand accounts of women like you who have undergone breast cancer treatment.
Talk to a Therapist or Mental Health Counselor
Finding a therapist or mental health counselor to talk to can also help alleviate some of the stress and anxiety you may be experiencing. They will give you tools to cope with your emotions during treatment and can help you stay positive. Keep in mind that although these changes are permanent, your outlook and perception of these changes are not. The right support can help you reframe how you see yourself and allow you to embrace changes with self-love and acceptance.
Maintaining good health throughout breast cancer and breast reconstruction surgery after a mastectomy is of utmost importance for several reasons. Firstly, a healthy body is better equipped to handle the physical and emotional challenges that come with these experiences. Focusing on overall wellness, including proper nutrition, regular exercise, and adequate rest, can enhance your body's resilience and promote a smoother recovery.
Give Yourself Time to Adjust
Adjusting to changes in your body takes time. It's completely normal to experience a range of emotions after breast reconstruction surgery, including frustration, grief, and even moments of self-doubt. Give yourself permission to feel and acknowledge these emotions. It's important to be patient and compassionate with yourself as you navigate this new chapter, and remember – your worth and beauty extend far beyond your physical appearance. Embrace the strength, courage, and resilience that allowed you to overcome cancer. Focus on nurturing your overall well-being, both physically and emotionally. Engage in self-care activities that bring you joy and help you reconnect with yourself.
Finding a Breast Reconstruction Surgeon in NJ and Philly
If you are beginning your journey of breast reconstruction after a masectomy, you are not alone. Our team is here to guide you every step of the way.
We believe that education is key, and our breast center serves as a valuable resource for women seeking information on breast reconstruction. We offer a wide range of educational materials, patient videos/testimonials, and online resources covering different surgical techniques, recovery processes, and potential outcomes. Our team of experienced breast reconstruction surgeons are highly skilled and have a track record of excellence in providing personalized care to our patients. Visit our Center for Breast Reconstruction to learn more about your options, or contact us today to schedule a consultation with our award-winning breast reconstruction surgeons in NJ and PA.