Nadine recieved a second primary diagnosis in January this year. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, she was unable to go ahead with the planned reconstruction for her mastectomy. She shares how this has affected her body image.
I felt that I was stuck in limbo
I was originally going to have chemotherapy first and then a mastectomy with an immediate reconstruction using tissue from the abdomen. However, my BMI was too high so the hope was I would lose a bit of weight and then go back. Then 24 hours before my chemo was due to start, I got a phone call saying it wasn’t going ahead due to the pandemic. That was a blow. Instead they said they would do the mastectomy first but weren’t sure when that would be.
It’s been a rollercoaster as the plans were changing on practically a daily basis, with dates in two weeks, six weeks, six months, all suggested and then cancelled. I felt I was stuck in limbo with the cancer still inside me. When the plan changed again and I finally had a mastectomy, it was a shock. At that point there was no discussion of a reconstruction at all, that option was taken off the table. So while I’ve now had the mastectomy and the cancer has gone, which I am so grateful for, I couldn’t have reconstruction at the same time.
I feel distorted after the surgery
I’m quite surprised about how distorted my body is after the surgery. It’s quite different to how I was expecting it to be even though I had seen photos online and I would have liked some counselling about the mastectomy.
I’ve lost my confidence, I don’t know how to dress for my shape, I don’t feel like going out on my own and I just don’t feel have like I had any control over my treatment plan. Now I’m concerned that when this is all over there will be such a backlog of referrals for reconstruction there will be a big delay.
Over 1,500 breast cancer patients in the UK are facing “many months, possibly years” without reconstruction, amid delays to surgery following the pandemic. We are calling on NHS bodies across the UK to ensure that women get the reconstructive surgery they need as soon as possible. Read our press release.
If you're worried about your treatment options, you can talk through any concerns with one of our Helpline nurses.