There was an article in the New York Times this past Monday about women choosing to “go flat” after mastectomy. The article states that more women are opting out of breast reconstruction. It made me think of Tig Notaro, who had a double mastectomy with no reconstruction and has been boldly showing the world her scars.
I mentioned the article to a nurse at Scripps (the healthcare group where I’m getting my treatments) who works specifically with breast cancer patients. She commented that she is not seeing this trend here in San Diego. Pretty much everyone here opts for reconstruction, apparently.
The article goes on to say that women are often pressured by their doctors to have reconstruction, and that they “aggressively promote it.” But I have heard that many years ago, women were in the opposite situation, with doctors either discouraging reconstruction, or otherwise being insensitive to the impact losing one’s breasts may have on a woman’s sense of self and identity. I also have to assume that decades ago reconstructive surgery options were fewer than they are now.
When I started on my own journey through this, I remember being gratified to hear about the law, mentioned in the article, that requires heath insurance companies to pay for reconstruction, including making the other breast match. It’s known as Janet’s Law and has an interesting history. I absolutely love the idea of the women in the NYT article basically saying “fuck you” to convention and choosing to go flat; standing firm that breasts do not make you a woman. But it’s too bad that the article did not mention any of the history of the hard fought battle to give women the other option, that is, the choice to have reconstruction.
The article also does not mention anything about single vs. double mastectomy. It seems like it would be more compelling to have reconstruction if you’re only having one breast removed. It’s one thing to be completely flat; it’s another to be completely lopsided!