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Your Change is YOUR Choice

Your Change is YOUR Choice

Today, around the world, many words are going to be written and published to mention and celebrate International Women’s Day. This year’s subject, Be Bold for Change, resonated with me on a very personal level, so I decided to be bold, or as some may say, even more bold than I already am.

After my diagnosis of breast cancer and the consequent bilateral mastectomy, I didn’t think it was such a bold move to make the decision to stay flat with no reconstruction. I had been a mom and breast fed my girls; I didn’t want to go through additional and unnecessary medical treatment; and I felt strong within my feminine identity - even without breasts.

However, I was to encounter some unexpected consequences regarding my decision when I shared it with others.

After my operation, people who knew the ‘Before’ me - with cleavage of cup C - and also some of those who had just heard about my story, responded in a number of ways that ranged from support, compassion, and astonishment in the positive “you are brave” sense, to sadness, shock, and horror!

The latter is the hardest to forget; yet, I didn’t feel angry, although I was sometimes upset and tried to apply my professional training as a counsellor in an effort to understand it.

It’s an unfortunate reality that every day, women around the world are diagnosed with breast cancer; the stats stand now at 1 out of every 8 women. That’s a huge number of women from all different backgrounds, cultures, and walks of life, who must suddenly make life-changing decisions that will affect them emotionally and physically for the rest of their lives.

Many of them will face the tough question of whether to have reconstruction after their mastectomy, so it is important for me to clearly state here that despite my personal choice, I am not against breast reconstruction. What I do think and believe is that every woman has the right to - and should - make the decision for herself that best suits her own circumstances.

I recently heard of a woman who - at her husband’s insistence - made the decision to have reconstruction surgery, so I decided to use today’s opportunity and write an open request for attention to be paid to this issue.

I want to say to my fellow women who were / are diagnosed with breast cancer and who choose not to have reconstruction, that it’s okay to make this decision. What is not okay is to be put under any kind of external pressure from your spouse, family members, or friends as you are going through the emotional and physical experience of battling the breast cancer.

It is your body, and therefore, your decision to make! Today, looking back at everything I’ve gone through, I’ve definitely made the right one for me.

On this International Women’s Day 2017, I am putting out a special call to the husbands, partners, friends, surgeons, and others out there, to refrain from placing an unnecessary and unfair pressure, and instead to join us, recognise our right to decide how our body looks, and to celebrate with us our beauty and qualities regardless of our shape or the size of our bust. Be Bold with your message of support for this Change!

Hugs xxx

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