Natasha, a nurse of 20 years, had a prophylactic bilateral mastectomy (PBM) after testing positive for the ATM gene mutation. She chose not to reconstruct and has no regrets.
After discovering I had a genetic mutation (ATM mutation) last February 2021, I had choices to make. I learned that I was at higher than average risk of getting breast cancer (15-40%), ovarian cancer (3%) and pancreatic cancer (5-10%). The number that made me most uncomfortable was the risk of breast cancer and I could not imagine a life of screening for this (I am 47 years old). After speaking about options with my healthcare providers, I decided to do a prophylactic mastectomy without reconstruction. Having been a nurse for 20 plus years at the time, I had spent time thinking through personal decisions I may have to make one day. One of the decisions was “What would I do if I got breast cancer?” I had thought I would get a mastectomy without reconstruction if that were to ever happen. I honestly did not think I would ever have to actually make this decision—we do not have breast cancer in our family and my lifestyle has been top notch most of my life. But, alas…
I ended up getting a prophylactic mastectomy without reconstruction on May 17, 2021. I think the biggest decision was thinking through if this was a crazy decision. I had to find my own voice and own values as I processed through this. I had to be articulate with my healthcare team so they would support me. It was helpful that my husband was supportive too. It was helpful that I’m petite and athletic and very small breasted to begin with.
I had to find my own voice and own values as I processed through this. I had to be articulate with my healthcare team so they would support me.
Looking back, I have no regrets. I do not know if there are others out there like me, but I like being flat. I wear a padded bra even with tighter fitting shirts. I think because of my petite size no one even notices. I love when I jog now. I do not have any “extra baggage” bouncing around. It is liberating. With bathing suits I buy frilly tops and once again, no one seems to notice. I am happy that now my risk of breast cancer is lower than average. This feels good. I like that I do not have to do annual MRI’s or mammograms. I still have to deal with the other cancer risks but those numbers are smaller and I can deal with that. It was an empowering process to go through. I realize that I do make decisions that are best for me even if they seem crazy.
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