Editor: Like so many women victimized by flat denial, Stephanie’s experience was an outright betrayal of the sacred confidence she had placed in her surgeon. And it took her some time to accept the reality of the violation she had experienced. Her surgeon admitted to her face, after the surgery, that he had purposefully left “a little extra” in case she “changed her mind.” The paternalism and sheer audacity are shocking. But this is what happens when surgeons are not held accountable – and it will continue to happen, until, as Stephanie says, we expose this cruel, abusive practice for what it is: medical assault and battery.
I went in for a double mastectomy on August 14th. Several of my closest friends had walked this path before me and I had no idea there were hidden pitfalls ahead. They both wanted flat and got flat. I told my surgeon that I wanted a flat chest. He looked at his shoes and muttered that a lot of women had been requesting that lately. He said he was concerned that I would look in the mirror and be depressed by what I saw if I was flat. I told him I’d seen my friend’s chest and that I’d be fine with being like that. I foolishly thought [Ed. Stephanie was not wrong to trust her surgeon… her surgeon was wrong to so egregiously violate her trust, and the blame is squarely on his shoulders] that that would be the end of it. The last thing I said to him on my way to surgery was, “I trust you”. Other folks had told me he was an excellent surgeon.
Imagine my surprise when my bandages were taken off and I had a swollen, huge mess on my chest. They kept telling me it was just swelling and it would come down. Ha. Yeah. It’s taken a few weeks to really sink in just how abused I was. My other friends had their surgery, their ONE surgery and then could move on to healing. I’m a freak show and I WILL have another surgery and get the flat chest I asked for. I told him that he’d been worried about how I’d feel when I look in the mirror, but that what he DID to me was what was making me feel depressed when I looked in the mirror. He then reiterated the bit about how I’d be “glad to have that” if I “changed my mind”. I stressed that I do NOT want implants, but he just nodded and said condescendingly, “Well, women change their mind.”
I am outraged. I am outraged at the fact that hundreds of women are facing this abuse on a regular basis. I’m with you. We have to band together. I’ve written an Atlanta news station and I plan to write an editorial for a widely read paper in Athens. We must make a noise and try to expose this cruel, abusive practice.