Melissa’s Story: Breasts Don’t Define Me


Melissa learned she was a BRCA carrier after losing her mother and sister to cancer in short order. She chose to have a prophylactic bilateral mastectomy without reconstruction and believes that breasts do not define who she is as a woman.


My mother was a breast cancer survivor. Diagnosed at age 64, she underwent chemo, radiation and a partial mastectomy. She survived, cancer free until the age of 84 when she passed away from an unrelated incident. Mom died just this past July, a short three months after my sister who was riddled with cancer. It started as uterine and spread throughout her body quickly. Losing your sister and mother within months is devastating. Throw in my own genetic testing which revealed a BRCA2 mutation and you’ve got the WORST YEAR EVER. I had already prepared myself for the news, my mom, my sister, and also my maternal grandparents died of ovarian and pancreatic cancers, in my mind it was inevitable.

I am completely supportive of those who do choose reconstruction, however it just didn’t feel “right” to me.

September was the first surgery, an oophorectomy (took out those pesky little ovaries of mine). Recovery wasn’t too awful, three little incisions and a little cramping. I wasn’t really prepared for the whole menopause thing smacking me in the face, but alas, I persevere.
I am now on week four after my double mastectomy. I am completely supportive of those who do choose reconstruction, however it just didn’t feel “right” to me. For me, it just didn’t make any sense to have boobs just to have boobs. They don’t define who I am as a woman, and if I’m being honest I’m really looking forward to not having to stick my shirt under my chest to sop up the boob sweat. Haha. I am still adjusting to flat life. Sometimes I reach up and am shocked that they’re gone. Time heals all, and I am lucky. Lucky that I had to opportunity to be ahead of that bitch cancer. My greatest wish is that others who have access to genetic testing take advantage of it. It may have saved my life.


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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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