Why I Would Consider Having a Double Mastectomy
It seems like a radical solution for a woman to elect to have both of her breasts cut off, but it’s a decision that I think is hugely admirable, and one which I hope I would make if I ever had to.
It’s not something I’ve ever thought about much, but since it’s been increasingly in the news, with more and more women (and celebrities), such as Angelina Jolie and BBC Presenter Claira Hermet, advertising the fact that they have made this radical choice, I’ve found myself considering the possibility. Clearly, these women aren’t making this decision for no reason, and without a very high chance of them having or developing breast cancer. Claira Hermet recently announced that she is a carrier of the BRCA1 gene which gives her an 85% chance of developing breast cancer as well as having lost her mother and sister to the disease, which is what led her to make this choice. The odds clearly aren’t in her favour.
Impressively, not only has she decided to undergo a double mastectomy on January 15th, but she’s shared images of her body as it is pre-op. She threw a photo shoot and released some of the images to highlight the cause and to celebrate her beautiful body (and kept the topless shots for herself). It’s so inspiring to see someone celebrate their body and their image, before they change themselves pretty radically.
On her blog (where Claira is sharing every step of her journey) “It has cemented the importance of self love, self confidence and self respect. I used to say, but I now know, that if you don’t love or respect yourself then you can’t expect anyone else to.” This is a sentiment that I find both beautiful and inspiring.
It’s hard to think about it when you’re not in that situation, and I hope that neither I, you nor any of my friends or family will ever be in that situation, but until we find a cure for cancer it’s a reality that we might have to face.
I must have read her original blog post at least four or five times, and each time I become more and more inspired. I can’t imagine how difficult it was for her to make this decision, and I musn’t underestimate how strong she is. But, when you look at the statistics and her family history, it’s a very brave but very sensible decision.
In the same operation where doctors are “scoop[ing] out the insides of [her] breasts” she’ll also undergo a reconstruction. This will all happen on what she’s calling “Double D Day”, yet another example of her incredible bravery in the face of adversity.
I don’t doubt that this is an immeasurably difficult decision for any woman to make, but think about it in terms of what she’s gaining and what she’s losing. Yes, she loses her breasts, but it’s not like she’s going to be flat chested because she’s having a breast reconstruction, but she’s also massively reducing, if not eliminating, any risk of breast cancer. She’s retaken control of her life: retaken it from the random, highly probable outcome of her developing a disease that as yet we can’t control, eradicate or fully understand. Yes, it’s a huge decision, but yes, I think it’s one that’s worth making.
It’s a decision that I hope I have the courage to make if I ever have to; I would forgo my breasts for the possibility of a longer life with the people I love.
Lauren is a soon-to-be London lawyer and a current Masters student studying in Rennes, France for a Masters in French law (specializing in European Union Law). She’s a blogger (www.thelifestylediaries.com) and has worked for Her Campus Media as President of the University of Exeter chapter and the Manager of UK Expansion in the past. When she’s not working she loves reading, watching old films, walking with her dog in the English countryside and enjoying all that London has to offer. An avid traveler, and someone who wants to experience as many cultures as she can, Lauren visited Sri Lanka last year and is looking to visit Bali, Italy and Canada this year.
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