Hello my name is Andrea

At the age of 45 I was diagnosed with DCIS breast cancer in my right breast, due to the lump being large there was a concern that although the biopsy showed DCIS the cancer could have spread to my lymph glands. So in May 2009 I had a mastectomy and a sample of lymph’s taken, six weeks later I got the full histology which confirmed that it was all DCIS and no cancer in the 8 lymph’s, with this diagnosis and changes to the treatment plan for pre-menopausal women I did not have to have Chemo or radiotherapy. The mastectomy site healed very well, I had some stiffness in my arm which over 4-6 months reduced, and I returned to work after 3 months, and I continued to have yearly mammograms. In 2012 there were changes in my left breast, after further investigations my breast surgeon stated that the changes did not appear to be of any concern, but after discussion with her and having to see a psychologist I opted to have a risk reducing mastectomy of my left breast.

I had not had reconstruction following my first mastectomy and following the second I still sat on the fence about having this done, my prosthesis lady offered me ‘stick on’ prosthesis’s as she said these were the closest to having breast again, and may help me decide about reconstruction. I had the stick on prosthesis’s for about 10 months, they were good but during the hot weather they would become unstuck and drop into my bra!!!! So I contacted my Breast Care Nurse and she referred me to the Breast Reconstruction Team at East Grinstead and I came along to one of the ‘Show and Tell’ sessions.
WOW, the amazing ladies were so honest about the good and the bad bits of their journey, they shared funny moments in their treatment and showed us the results of their surgeries. Some ladies had one breast reconstructed others had had both done, one lady had stick-on nipples whilst the others had had reconstruction of nipples and tattoo’s. Tummies, thighs or back muscle with an implant had been used to create these fabulous breasts that were on show, I was in awe. I went home with lots of questions in my head but surprisingly when I woke in the morning I knew that I wanted my own breasts again that didn’t live in a box when not in my bra.

So on the 26th September 2014 I walked down the corridor at East Grinstead Hospital in my hospital gowned for my DIEP (tummy) reconstruction, when I woke they were there, although I couldn’t see them fully I knew I had a new pair of breasts and even though I was in pain I was SO pleased. I left hospital after 5 days, the following 2 to 3 weeks were painful but with each day I was improving and I had breast! The only problem I had was a sloughy (moist) belly button but this healed with time. I went back to work after 3 months and felt back to my normal self by around 6 months. I came back to East Grinstead in December 2015 for nipple reconstruction as a day case and then had my tattoo’s done in the following April.

If I was to recommend one thing it is to ensure you have support following surgery, for me I needed this for about 2-3 weeks before I got the confidence back in my stomach muscles. My focus had been so centred on my breasts for so long that I hadn’t given much thought to how my tummy would feel or what I would not be able to do. So buy the big knickers, eat and drink well, rest and allow people to look after YOU for a little longer

Come to a Show & Tell event

Find out more about different types of procedure and the experiences of patients by coming along to one of our events.