Phantom Pains: Life after a Double Mastectomy

My plastic surgeon told me that it would be like this.

After I was diagnosed with a BRCA2 mutation,((As I’ve written about previously, in the summer of 2014, I was diagnosed with a BRCA2 mutation. Individuals with BRCA2 mutations have are five more times likely to develop breast cancer than the average woman.)) I spent all of my free time researching prophylactic mastectomies, trying to figure out how I would look afterwards and how much time I would need to take off from work. I became more and more well versed on the physical impact that the surgery would have, but I failed to consider the impact that it would have on my psyche.

In the months leading up to my mastectomy, my plastic surgeon told me to give myself time to grieve. “You’re losing a body part and it’s important to give yourself time and space to process the loss,” she said. She was right in one sense. I don’t grieve the loss of my breasts. But I often find myself mourning the loss of the person I was before.