Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Letter to my Doctor

Well tomorrow is D day for my decision regarding a single or a double mastectomy.

It has been a very exhausting week with my brain rarely still as it tried to process all the factors influencing my decision.

I have done a lot of talking to a lot of people about the decision. I have much gratitude to those people who have listened, counselled, commented and cared.

I really made up my mind the moment I was told that I had breast cancer again. One of my girlfriends, who is a very straight talker asked me what my initial reaction was when I found out ( after  f*ck, f*ck f*ck) and it was;  I want them both off.

The past week has been the consolidation of that. A bit like going shopping for a new dress - you really like the first one you try on but you have to spend the next 2 hours trying on a whole lot of others just to convince yourself that you really like it  (ok you can always change your mind with a dress -  not so easy with a double mastectomy)

I have also come to the realisation that even though I know that this is the right decision for me, it doesn't make it any less scary and I really have no idea how  I will react when I look in the mirror for the first time and see my flat chest. 

But I have absolute faith in my own resilience to deal with whatever I have to, as well as those closest to me.

My surgeon told me that he would agree to doing a double mastectomy, but that I had to write him a letter with the reasons why I wanted it done. He said that it was not for any legal reason but that it would help me clarify in my own mind why I was having it done.

Here is the letter I wrote him

Dear Dr Dave

When I first came to see you almost two weeks ago to talk about my diagnosis you told me that given the fact that this was a second diagnosis that I would have to have a mastectomy. I told you that I wanted both breasts removed.
You told me it was my anxiety talking and that I had to make decisions based on fact and rationality.

On my second visit – when you would have to agree my anxiety levels had dropped – we again talked about a double mastectomy. You counselled me that it was very big decision and that once done there was no going back. It wasn’t like   cutting long hair – my breasts wouldn’t grow back (yes I could get some new ones but they wouldn’t be the original pair)

I signed the consent form for a single mastectomy, with the proviso that you would agree to do both.  I had a week to decide and  I had to write you a letter spelling out my reasons.

Well here they are.

The reasons I am choosing a double mastectomy are

  • I don’t ever want to be in this position again, having to make these decisions

  • I have talked to a number of people who have had both single and doubles, and had the chance to look at the results of both and I honestly believe it is the right decision for me

  • Balance and symmetry are important and I feel that only having one breast will always, to me, feel unbalanced.
  • I honestly believe that if I only have a single, after a short time I will want to have the other removed, thus precipitating another round of decision-making and a second operation.
  • My breasts do not define me

  • I have no doubt that I have the resilience to deal with this decision – no matter how shocked I may be when I first look at my flat chest
  • I want this done and finished and over so I can get on with all the living I have to do.

Remember, this is my second diagnosis and as you said there was a 90% chance it wouldn’t come back and it did.
Statistics and me don’t have a very good record.

So as you instructed me to say:

"Dave, lets get this show on the road."


P x 


  1. Thanks for sharing this with us P!

    "My breasts do not define me" indeed.

    Love ya,

    E xxxxxxxxxxxxxx

    P.S. Some of those kisses above are from Mr. Commentbox.

  2. Even if you claim you're not inspirational you have no idea how inspiring this Is. xxdeb

  3. So now the decision is made - and it is the one I would have made for what it is worth. Your breasts do not define you but I do believe balance and symmetry are important!

    And I agree with Debbi


  4. Pfft. Inspirational? As if. I mean, there was some discussion in the previous post about shopping at Westfield but, crucially, NO ITEMS WERE MENTIONED. Also somewhat disappointed in you (you know I'm nothing if not honest) that you went to BJ and not the city - where Christian Louboutin stocks several flat ultra-comfortable slip-on shoes.

    When fighting the war against cancer it's vital to wear cool, expensive footwear.

    e !

  5. I have only met you once and even I know that you are resilient enough to deal with this. Sending you lots of love, A.