Flat pack and it’s not from IKEA!

“If it takes a village to raise a child, it takes a bloody army to battle cancer.” 

Niyati Tamaskar

I have spoken publicly about my journey with breast cancer, and I found out recently I am now a member of the “Flat pack” club, a club I didn’t existed until I read an article in VWeekend.

Our neighbour came over Sunday night for dinner and whilst this is not unusual – he brought me over the weekend publication from the Herald Sun as it had an interesting read about breast cancer survivors titled “Meet the flat pack”.  The article spoke of a growing number of breast cancer survivors who choose not to have reconstructive surgery.

You may think it strange that a neighbor brings you an article, however right from the very start of my breast cancer journey, our neighbour has been worried.  He lost a cousin to this insidious disease many years ago and he was concerned that I would have the same outcome.  He is a keen reader and will bring over any articles that discuss breast cancer and/or treatment options for me to read and/or consider.

As a person who has had a mastectomy and chosen not to have reconstruction – the article was clearly written from my perspective.   Interestingly, it featured a health practitioner, a clinical psychologist, who provided more depth and to the conversation than I ever could.  Her double mastectomy was three years ago, and she describes her reasons for not having reconstruction along with two other women and all have done their research to make an informed decision.

I recall my own journey in September 2020 and a conversation after my mastectomy, in which another female health professional spoke of how others may view my decision to have the mastectomy rather than the cancer removed – I found this disturbing at the time and still do.  I feel that my choice was not respected nor were my reasons (and I don’t even recall being asked what they were at the time).

My decision in not having reconstruction was based on not willing to undergo more surgery and/or trauma to the body.  My healing from the mastectomy was difficult at times and I am unwilling to duplicate this.  Perhaps my age also assisted in the decision-making process, as my breasts had completed their tour of duty.  I also knew that further surgery would require more time off work, and this was another key factor.

I have friends who have chosen reconstruction and I believe that we all need to come to our own conclusions on what is best for us all.