A woman recently posed a question on one of my BRCA online communities about experiencing intense emotions after her prophylactic mastectomy. She is only 2 days post-op and was asking if anyone else had become easily upset after their surgery and if anyone had regretted it. I answered her because I definitely experienced some crazy emotions after my surgery. I’m not sure if it was my hormones readjusting, the trauma of major surgery, the pain, or the loss of my breast tissue (or maybe all of the above) – but I was definitely crying after my surgery, especially during week 2 post-op. I’m not someone who cries easily, with the exception of TV and movies (ie I cry every time I see the Sex and the City ep where Harry proposes to Charlotte). But, after my mastectomy, I found myself crying at the smallest things. I remember being at the Relax the Back store and finding a nice pillow to help me sleep – and breaking into tears in the store. Or thinking about how much my family and friends were helping me, and crying tears of gratitude.
I think it is really normal to have these types of feelings/emotions after a prophylactic mastectomy and it’s important to acknowledge the feelings. I also had a small feeling of regret right after the surgery. I wondered – why did I do this to myself? Is the pain worth it? The good news is that for me, the crying stopped after week 2. And the small feeling of regret I had right after my surgery disappeared after a few days, once I got my pathology results that everything was clear. It was a reassurance that I had done the right thing and I didn’t have to worry about my breast cancer risk like I had before. No more mammograms and breast MRIs every 6 months. No more getting a call that I needed to go back to see the radiologist for an ultrasound after my mammo and worrying about what they had found.
And now that my final surgery is in less than 3 weeks, the only emotion I feel is excitement. It’s really weird to look forward to having surgery, especially being in the healthcare field and understanding all the risks/complications associated with surgery. Still, I can’t wait to have this all behind me and not have a heavy pair of tupperware-like expanders in my body. Anyway, just wanted to share that post-mastectomy emotions are totally normal and I feel it’s very important to voice them and let it all out. Below, please enjoy the Destiny’s Child jam that this post is named after.