‘Going Flat’ After Breast Cancer

When I had my implants removed a dozen years ago I had a serious breast cancer scare.

One of the things about being old is confronting my own mortality with courage and free from delusions.

We know many other folks our age, both men and women living with cancer, chemo, radiation and some dying.

All of this makes the concerns of the Doctors pushing “state of the art” reconstruction with their focus on appearances seem sort of shallow.

From The New York Times Magazine:  http://www.nytimes.com/2016/11/01/well/live/going-flat-after-breast-cancer.html

Before Debbie Bowers had surgery for breast cancer, her doctor promised that insurance would pay for reconstruction, and said she could “even go up a cup size.” But Ms. Bowers did not want a silicone implant or bigger breasts.

“Having something foreign in my body after a cancer diagnosis is the last thing I wanted,” said Ms. Bowers, 45, of Bethlehem, Pa. “I just wanted to heal.”

While plastic surgeons and oncologists aggressively promote breast reconstruction as a way for women to “feel whole again,” some doctors say they are beginning to see resistance to the surgery. Patients like Ms. Bowers are choosing to defy medical advice and social convention and remain breastless after breast cancer. They even have a name for the decision to skip reconstruction: They call it “going flat.”

“Reconstruction is not a simple process,” said Dr. Deanna J. Attai, a breast surgeon in Burbank, Calif., and a past president of the American Society of Breast Surgeons, adding that more of her patients, especially those with smaller breasts before diagnosis, were opting out of reconstruction. “Some women just feel like it’s too much: It’s too involved, there are too many steps, it’s too long a process.”

Social media has allowed these women to become more open about their decision to live without breasts, as well as the challenges, both physical and emotional, that have followed. For a recent video created by wisdo.com, a social media platform, and widely shared on Facebook, Ms. Bowers and her friend Marianne DuQuette Cuozzo, 51, removed their shirts to show their scarred, flat chests. And Paulette Leaphart, 50, a New Orleans woman whose clotting disorder prevented her from having reconstruction after a double mastectomy, walked topless from Biloxi, Miss., to Washington this summer to raise awareness about the financial struggles of cancer patients.

“Breasts aren’t what make us a woman,” Ms. Leaphart said.

The nascent movement to “go flat” after mastectomies challenges long-held assumptions about femininity and what it means to recover after breast cancer. For years, medical professionals have embraced the idea that breast restoration is an integral part of cancer treatment. Women’s health advocates fought for and won approval of the Women’s Health and Cancer Rights Act of 1998, which requires health plans to cover prosthetics and reconstructive procedures.

Continue reading at:  http://www.nytimes.com/2016/11/01/well/live/going-flat-after-breast-cancer.html

One Response to “‘Going Flat’ After Breast Cancer”

  1. Karen Says:

    I remember when you talking about the deflation… has it really been 12 years already!!! It does not seen to be anywhere close to that long… Another thing that happens when one gets old I guess…

    I’ve not had a breast cancer scare (my cancer scare was for another kind), but my implants (saline – nothing else was legal at the time) are now 18 years old… I do wonder how long they will last. If they break I am not sure what i would do, but it would be hard to justify spending the money to have them replaced.

    – karen


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