Melinda’s Story: Intentional Flat Denial 10yrs Ago

Melinda was 60 years old when she learned she had breast cancer for the second time, and decided to have a bilateral mastectomy with no reconstruction. However, her surgeon had other ideas and said that going flat was “a bad idea.” Melinda was never satisfied with her closure. Ten years later her dermatologist confirmed that her surgeon left extra skin “in case you change your mind.” She had revision surgery to fix it. Melinda’s original surgeon later became a gender confirmation specialist and Melinda hopes that she has learned from her mistake.

“Looks like someone wanted to leave skin in case you wanted reconstruction.”

January 2010 I was diagnosed with breast cancer and soon found out I had three tumors in one breast.

I was 60 years old and a high school teacher with three adult daughters. I did my research in a hurry and as I had had a lumpectomy 5 years before in the other breast I decided to say goodbye to them both. A surgeon, Dr. W., was recommended to me and I met with her. I told her I wanted to go flat- no reconstruction, and wanted both breasts removed. She said that that was a bad idea. We discussed our different opinions. I listened politely to her but told her that this is what I wanted. I left her office really afraid as I wondered if she would sabotage me and not follow my wishes. And what about the cancer? I was really afraid. Three days before surgery I saw the anesthesiologist who said, “One breast and reconstruction, right?”

Ah no, not right. She made some calls and came in rather frustrated with me making it CLEAR that this was on ME and NOT Dr. W’s wishes. Now I am scared times 100!! So, surgery is done, I never see her again, have chemo, and try to go forward with my life. My chest looks like SHIT but, hey, no cancer right, so I should not be complaining.

Ten years later I asked my dermatologist – look at my chest. What’s your opinion? He says, “Looks like someone wanted to leave skin in case you wanted reconstruction.” Yep – that’s what I think. So, I see a plastic surgeon and he says, “Yep, we can fix this.” So, surgery occurs and after 6 weeks I resume life. Chest looks a hell of a lot better, not perfect but better. So, when I see Dr. W.’s name as a potential good surgeon, I can only hope she changed her thinking and decided that her patient’s opinions mattered. I know people learn from their mistakes and I hope she did.

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Disclaimer: Any and all information published by Not Putting on a Shirt (NPOAS) on behalf of a third party is for informational purposes only and should not be taken as a substitute for medical or legal advice from a licensed professional. Views expressed and claims made by third parties do not necessarily represent the views of NPOAS.

Published by Not Putting on a Shirt

Founder of Not Putting on a Shirt, a mastectomy patients' rights organization that advocates for optimal surgical outcomes for patients going flat.

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