Today I had a wonderful ‘visit’ with a psychiatrist. He’s helping me personally, and also helping me put together a program for women facing and recovering from breast reconstruction. Helping women like me cope with the psychological effects of recovery. It was very informative, he told me that the psychology behind the decision to have prophylactic bilateral mastectomy is very interesting. He said that it obviously shows a strong woman, a woman that is willing to face the fear and pain of the surgery and reconstruction to prolong her life. It also shows that the woman is thoughtful of her health, willing to go through the surgery and reconstruction to stay healthy instead of taking the chance that she won’t get breast cancer. It also shows that she is more concerned about having a long healthy life than she is about how she looks, and is willing to give up her breasts to live a longer life. I think this is very important for the women that are faced with the comment “it’s just like having implants”, because I think the most hurtful part of that statement ISN’T the suggestion that we won’t face more hurt or emotions or trauma than a woman getting implants, but that we are doing it because of how we want to look. Those people that say those things have no idea that we will never look like a ‘normal’ woman again, and that the size of the implant has nothing to do with replacing or making better the breasts we had prior to surgery. There is simply no comparison between our bodies before and after surgery.
I mentioned to him that many of my ‘breast friends’ seem to be going through a little depression. He explained it very well in that we put so much of our energy and emotions into getting through the surgery. We create possitive energy for ourselves without even realizing it, just to get us through, because although we have support from our family and friends, no one really knows how much it takes just to get through it. Once we are through the mastectomy and are facing the delays and trials of reconstruction, we hit a low point because we have expended so much energy getting through to the recovery, just surviving and being there for our family and friends. Although we need them, we often end up having to put on a brave face for them, and it’s just sometimes more than we can do. We fall into a depression, where we need to sleep and withdraw and recover the energy that it took us just to get through the surgery. Not to mention the grieving process, because there is a grieving process as we lose a part of our body, and it doesn’t mean we’re shallow or vain to mourn that loss.
As he explained that to me I felt a light bulb go off! That’s exactly right! And it immediately brought to mind my little break down at Scorpion Bay in Baja after finding the lump that lead to all of this. I remember being devistated, and crying and crying, not because of what I faced, but because it was the only time I felt that I could. Once I came home and started my journey for real I needed to be strong for my family. I couldn’t break down and be devistated in front of them, if i did, who would get them through it?
I think having a ‘group’ would be great. I know there are a lot of groups out there talking about breast cancer, or other types of cancer, but I really feel that my focus with my own projects should be reconstruction. And luckily he’s willing to help out as well. So now I’m putting together a little session for women in the area that are facing this journey too. I can’t wait to get started.