Overcoming breast cancer is no small deal. Women of all ages and backgrounds have to undergo mastectomies to remove the risk of cancer from their lives. While each woman deals with her journey differently, approaching them with love and acceptance as a family member is of the utmost importance. Should a woman in your life choose to undergo a breast reconstruction following her mastectomy, you should as such continue to support her in her journey – whether you like the idea of breast implants for cosmetic reasons or not.
How first can you support this woman? By putting yourself in her shoes. Imagine that cancer, or the threat of cancer, had robbed you of one of the things that make you uniquely a woman – your breasts. Imagine how it could feel having this symbol of your femininity taken away from you, albeit for very good reason. It might feel saddening, it might feel strange, it might feel irritating, it might feel any number of things. Each woman is different, and so each woman will respond differently to a mastectomy.
While some women may be glad to be free of their breasts and welcome the new change, still others will feel lost and ashamed of their now removed chest. Women who have unhappy feelings regarding their loss of their breasts and women who miss their breasts or old aesthetic appearance will choose to undergo a breast reconstruction.
Whether or not you are concerned about your relative undergoing another surgery should come second to the way that she feels, unless she has significant health risks that could make surgery very difficult. You need to remember that this is her choice, not yours, and to be supportive throughout, or leave yourself at risk of being ostracised – which is the very last thing that she needs at this point in time.
If you have concerns about the surgery, you may do well research about breast reconstruction or speak with the surgeon involved, rather than to stress out your relative. She is doing this because she is unhappy with the way that she looks, and you don’t want to dampen her mood further by scaring her about surgical stories that you’ve heard of.
Educate yourself about the procedure, the lead up to the procedure, the preparation, and the recovery process, too. The more that you know about her breast reconstruction and the timelines involved, the better placed you’ll be to be able to care for her when she needs it most. Don’t be pushy and overbearing, but make sure that you keep an eye on how things are going for her.
Give her options. If you are worried about her choice of surgeon, then why not make some suggestions for other surgeons and go with her to visit them yourself? While she might want to rush the surgery, you can remind her that you want the best quality breast reconstruction for her because she deserves it. You might like to offer some financial support if she is concerned about the cost.
Remember that while this might be in some ways a wonderful time for them, it may also be a bit of a tender point. This surgery is something that will allow her to reclaim her femininity, which will allow her to feel more like a woman again, and so it’s important to approach the topic with care and love. Make sure that you aren’t adding more pressure to the situation, and allow her to speak freely about her experiences and journey. All it takes is a little kindness and patience.
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