Shauna Wears Pink

I will never forget the day my doctor uttered those horrifying words “I am sorry to tell you, but that is a cancer tumor that you have in your left breast”. I was 33 years old, and my life changed forever. I invite you to read my story, learn from it and hopefully be inspired to reach out to other young women living with and beyond breast cancer.

Friday, August 25, 2006

My Double Mastectomy

On the morning of August 10, 2006 my alarm went off at 5:00 a.m. I had 30 minutes to dress, say my good-byes to my son and drive with my husband to the hospital to check-in for my double mastectomy. I dressed hurriedly and then spent the next 10 minutes gazing down into the crib at my sleeping 2 year old son. As tears streamed down my cheeks and onto his sleeping head, I prayed that I would see him again. What always scares me most about surgery is the possibility of never waking up from the anesthesia. General anesthesia is as close to death as it gets in my book, since you are entrusting your breathing and heart beat to another human being, the anesthesiologist, in my case for over 6 hours. While I waited for my husband to drive me to the hospital I finally allowed myself to be scared. I was scarred of the pain I knew I would feel when I woke up from surgery. I was scared of the shock and horror I knew I would experience when I saw what was left of my breasts after surgery, and first and foremost I was scared of never waking up from surgery. Once we got to the hospital things moved pretty fast. I knew the drill all to well having already had 5 surgeries over the last year. Soon I was saying my good-byes to my husband as they wheeled me down the hall to surgery. 7 hours later I awoke to excruciating pain. I felt like a semi-truck was sitting on top of my chest crushing my lungs into my spine. I always emerge from anesthesia immediately and pretty alert. Alarms kept going off alerting the nurses to the fact that I was no getting enough oxygen down into my lungs. They would instruct me to breath deep which was nearly impossible given that I felt like a semi-truck was sitting right on top of my lungs, so I crankily demanded more pain medication before I would comply with their requests to breath deeply. Finally after what seemed like hours my room was ready and I was wheeled into a private room where my mother and husband where waiting for me. I was so happy to see them, so happy to be alive, but very cranky about the amount of pain I was experiencing. My doctor finally ordered regular IV doses of a drug he promised was even stronger than morphine. The pain finally became manageable as long as I did not go too long between IV doses of very strong pain medication. My doctor also told me that I could go home from the hospital a day early if I was able to wean myself off of the IV injected pain killers. Determined to go home and see my little boy as soon as possible, I immediately started to try do just that. It was hard going, but finally about 24 hours after I awoke from surgery I walked out the front door of the hospital with my husband and went home to see my sweet little boy and be cared for by my loving mother. I still had four drains coming out of my body, draining away the extra blood and lymphatic fluid that my body seemed to be producing to fill up the space that was left by my removed breast tissue. There were so many tubes and drains coming out of me that I had to strap a fanny pack to my waist to carry everything around with me. Modern medicine has replaced bandages with super glue, so I had no bandages over my breasts….just stitches and super glue. Later that evening after returning home came the moment of truth when I allowed myself to look in the mirror for the first time. As I had suspected, I was horrified. Where I had once had nipples and areolas all that was left was a big jagged scare on each breast. My mastectomy included reconstruction as well which meant that under my chest muscles I already had expandable breast implants. My doctor had already put some saline in each of them so that I would not be totally flat, but compared to my breasts pre-surgery I am pretty much flat-chested. I know that this is not a permanent state of affairs, as my doctors plans to continue to inflate my breast implants until I am an appropriate size of my choosing. He will then replace those expandable implants with nice silicon implants that will feel more like real breasts. The final reconstruction surgery will involve taking a piece of skin from my lower abdomen for use as a skin graph to reconstruct my nipples and areolas. However, all this will take time….a another year to be exact. So I try to think positive and look forward to the day when I no longer look like a science project and instead have eternally perky, round boobs. It has been two weeks now, my drains have all been removed and the pain subsides a little more each day, so I am on the mend and oh so happy to be alive! Thank you to everyone who brought food, sent flowers and cards or sent warm thoughts and kind words my way.


  • At 6:07 PM, Blogger A said…

    It's my turn in two weeks. Same story, but different. 35, 5 year old girl, right breast, double mastectomy.

  • At 12:02 PM, Blogger Debbie said…

    its my turn in 2 weeks too. but different 42, 13 year old boy, 9 yearold girl, double masectomy with reconstruction. scared but i know i will be ok

  • At 6:33 AM, Blogger vgeoffrion said…

    It's my turn on Friday of this week, at 8:30.
    I was diagnosed with stage 2 breast cancer in my right breast, in November of last year at the age of 48. My fault I guess, for never getting mammograms starting at age forty. Now I am facing a bilateral double mastectomy, as well as radiation. I will not be able to undergo reconstruction until a year after surgery.

  • At 8:21 PM, Blogger Hollie said…

    My turn in 2 1/2 weeks. 33, 11-year old daughter. Left breast, prophylactic mastectomy with direct implant reconstruction. My prognosis is excellent, but for my circumstances prophylactic bilateral was the only way to go. I'm excited and a little wary. It's nice knowing I'm in good company. I really hope it goes well for all of you! I'll be sending prayers and good vibes to you all! :)

  • At 11:33 PM, Blogger Leandra said…

    I have DCIS very early stage. Have had breast issues and cysts most of my life. I have optioned to have a double mastectomy with implants. May seem radical but my first surgery was ar 18 yrs old to biopsy a cyst that went clear to my chest wall. 2nd biopsy ar 35. Now - cancer. To leave the right breast is like keeping a ticking time bomb for me. At a very young 56. I will get a new cancer free-matching pair. (Mine haven't matched since the second surgery). Setting the date this week. Leandra, Ca.


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