Welcome to Breast Reconstruction Thoughts at Life Reconstructed. Each Tuesday this fall, I am featuring a woman who has undergone a single or bilateral mastectomy. Most have also had breast reconstruction, but some have not. Some entered this world through cancer, others due to testing positive for the BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene mutation which highly increases their chances of a future cancer diagnosis. I hope their words bring insight and encouragement.
I have not met Kerry in person, but once you’ve gone through breast reconstruction, you feel a certain connection to others who’ve experienced the same thing. I’m thankful she was willing to share from her experience, and I hope someday that I might have the opportunity to meet her face-to-face.
Name: Kerry J Brannan
Family: Husband of 39 yrs, 3 adult daughters, all married, 9 grandchildren (6 girls, 3 boys)
Hobbies/Interests: Music (play piano), currently LOVING an acapella group called “Home Free”
Diagnosis: Multifocal DCIS (ductal carcinoma in situ) 20 yrs ago (L side). Micro-invasive ductal carcinoma 3 yrs ago, R side.
Age at Time of Diagnosis: 1st -39; 2nd– 58
Type of Reconstruction: 1st – none, mastectomy only; 2nd – bilateral reconstruction with silicone implant
What was your initial response to your cancer diagnosis?
Annoyance, determination to do research well, ask every possible question
How much time passed from your mastectomy through completion of reconstruction?
Just over 9 months – I delayed some parts of it to fit my schedule (with doctor’s approval!)
What was something you found surprising or unexpected about the reconstruction process?
How different the end result was from what I had anticipated. It’s fine, but nothing will look like the “real thing”.
What was the hardest part of the process?
Physically it was so very tough having both sides of my chest surgically affected. It took a long time (weeks?) before I could comfortably lift much of anything, or, of course, raise my arms. Also, it was probably almost 2 yrs before I felt like what was in/on my chest was really a part of ME. I still don’t call them “my breasts”. But it does finally feel like “me”.
What is something you learned about yourself through your mastectomy/reconstruction experience?
That I was glad that I was no longer a “DD” or “DDD”!! Yay for “C”!
Do you have a piece of advice for women who are just beginning this journey?
Just keep moving forward, keep doing as many “normal” things as you can, when you can, and accept help and support whenever it is offered.