Happy to be Flat
Cancer is not a new concept for me. When I was diagnosed with stage three Triple Negative Breast Cancer in August 2018, at the age of 30, cancer had already been a part of my life for 14 years. My father was diagnosed with Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia when I was 14 and I started chemo less than two years after he had died, following one of the most courageous battles with cancer I have seen. He was, and is, the strongest man I have ever known. I was going to need his strength, and I am happy it is one of many positive attributes he instilled in me.
My cancer treatment plan consisted of eight rounds of chemo, followed by surgery and 25 rounds of radiation. From the moment surgery was discussed I knew reconstruction was not for me. The surgical process to reconstruct my breasts was not a process that interested me – it didn’t scare me, I just really did not want to do it. I was more than happy to be flat and embrace the scars that were to become my permanent ‘superhero crest’. I felt though that I was the anomaly, the rare person who did not want to have reconstruction. I felt pushed to consider reconstructive surgery, and irritated that reconstruction was viewed as the ‘norm’.
I was content with my decision, but others around me were not. My Mother had a hard time accepting that I was so willing to just ‘cut off my boobs’ and I was asked the inevitable question, “Do you want to stay single forever?” You see, this is another part of the equation, I am a single, 30 year old woman, with no children. Much of the literature I found online about women ‘going flat’ did not relate to me, which was frustrating and annoying. I knew I couldn’t be the only woman in my position, and I craved a positive conversation surrounding women who embraced going flat.
I think the most important thing for women to remember when choosing a breast surgery route is that the choice is yours and the opinions and concerns of others should never outweigh what you know is best for yourself. Each breast cancer patient is different, with different wants and needs out of their journey and their life post-cancer, and therefore every breast surgery decision is made with different individual variables.
It’s Okay to ‘Go Flat!’
I also think it is important for women to know it is okay to ‘go flat’! You do not need to pursue reconstruction if it is not something you are comfortable with. You do not need to answer everyone’s questions of ‘why?’, with a long thought out response detailing your perspective. It is okay to simply answer, “because that is my choice”.
I had surgery on February 12, 2019 and can honestly say after looking at my flat nippleless chest in the mirror, I am still 110% happy and confident in my decision to forego reconstruction. I feel more at ease and calm, knowing that the source of my cancer is no longer a part of my body, and I am even more ready to tackle radiation. My scars give me a sort of power, a reminder that I climbed a mountain. They do not define who I am, they simply tell part of my story. They remind me of the sheer strength and resilience we have as humans. They remind me that pain is temporary and disease can be conquered. These scars are my own and I wear them proudly.
In the weeks following surgery I was, and still am, met with questions about when I will be fitted for a prosthetic mastectomy bra or when I will get reconstruction. When I answer that I am doing neither, I am always told, “well you can decide to do it later”. I realize I will be faced with these questions for a long time. I sometimes get jaded thinking about constantly explaining my reasons, but I know my position will never change and I am happy and proud to represent women who have chosen to embrace their flat chests – all for a variety of different reasons.
My hope is that more women find a positive response in choosing to ‘go flat’ and are not pushed to consider alternatives they are not interested in. I know I made the right decision for myself, and if you choose to forego reconstruction and prosthetic bras, embrace your new body with an immense amount of love, patience and positivity.
Go flat. Love your scars. Be you. The world will adjust. – By: Megan Meloche