Breast Cancer Surgery: March 18, 2010; Subcutaneous mastectomy
Reconstructive Surgery: March 18, 2010
Reconstruction Procedure: One-stage reconstruction; Implant
“It’s still at an early stage, so we better do the surgery as soon as possible. It will be a total mastectomy.” – When this was the unanimous opinion at three different hospitals, I felt as though my hope to live was suddenly dashed. I knew that I would have to accept it if that was my only option, but I couldn’t bear the thought of losing both breasts. On my way back from the third hospital I visited, I remember going to a shrine and praying with all my heart for my breasts to be spared.
I found out about reconstructive breast surgery around the same time I was undergoing several tests in preparation for the surgery. I didn’t even feel like going to the hospital anymore, knowing that the results would all be the same. Then, one day I saw a TV show that featured the reconstructive surgery of a person who also had breast cancer in both of her breasts. My instinct immediately told me that this was for me, and I decided to stake everything on this procedure. I consulted my doctor right away and found out I was a candidate for simultaneous reconstructive surgery with a subcutaneous mastectomy. When my doctor told me that I would not lose my breasts and that I would be able to keep my nipples and areola, I felt like all the tension accumulated in my body was replaced with a sense of relief, and I knew that I could keep on living.
Since I was told that I had cancer, my mental health had taken a beating. I believe that the conversations I had with my surgeon also acted as a form of psychological counseling. I could feel that my mental state was improving day by day, and I believe that my surgeon has truly saved both my body and my soul.
What makes me the happiest now is the fact that I have my two breasts and that I get to live with this seemingly insignificant fact. Through my illness, I realized that we take things for granted and we don’t appreciate enough of what we have.
I always thought of breast cancer as something removed far away from me, but I realized that this kind of tragedy can happen to any one of us at any time. The fact that I was able to recover both physically and mentally after the hopeless dark days to continue living is truly because of the reconstructive breast surgery. If I see a person who is crying because she is affected with the same disease, I can look straight into her eyes and tell her, “It will be OK. You don’t have to give up!”
Shiseido is proud to sponsor this collection of 19 stories from extraordinary women in Japan who have unabashedly chronicled their journey through reconstructive surgery after facing breast cancer. Click here to learn more about the STP Project – the designers, writers and publishers behind the book.