Breast Cancer: Feeling Feminine After A Mastectomy

Breast Cancer: Feeling

Feminine After a mastectomy

Neuroscientist Sherry was diagnosed with triple negative breast cancer after finding a lump in her breast in March 2017. As a mum of an 18-month-old and a six-year-old, with no history of breast cancer in her family, this was unexpected news.

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Sherry’s gruelling treatment schedule included 6 months of chemotherapy, a double mastectomy, radiotherapy and another six months of chemotherapy. As part of her treatment, Sherry took part in the Cancer Research UK-funded PARTNER trial. This trial is investigating the effectiveness of a new combination of chemotherapy drugs in treating breast cancer.

Embracing her mastectomy scars

Sherry decided to not have reconstructive surgery after having a double mastectomy.

"I guess what it really made me realise is that breasts don’t define you as a woman. I don’t want to trivialise having a mastectomy in anyway, but I was actually ok. I had thought having a mastectomy, I would lose my femininity. But strangely I feel almost more feminine than I did before."

Sherry on a beach with her family, before being diagnosed with cancer

She hopes to raise awareness about early detection of breast cancer and to change people’s perceptions of mastectomy scars.

“Women and men need to get things checked out. Whatever culture, religion, belief, this is your life and it’s important to get changes checked out early because you can have treatment that can ultimately save your life.

“Breast cancer is real, harsh and unforgiving. I didn’t choose to go through this but I’m proud of what I’ve achieved. I want women who’ve been diagnosed with breast cancer to realise that choosing not to have reconstructive surgery can be a positive choice. 

“Embracing my scars shows people that these are now just a part of who I am and that cancer does not define me. I hope that women faced with this diagnosis will take comfort for seeing how proud of my body I now am." 

Moving forward after cancer treatment

While Sherry feels positive about her mastectomy, she still struggled during treatment at times, finding the experience isolating.

“At times during my treatment, all I could see was doom and gloom. When treatment ended, I found it really scary and I really struggled. I found it hard to move on. I heard of others being unwell again, and I felt so guilty. Then I felt guilty for feeling guilty, and guilty for feeling good too.”

Returning to work, focusing on looking after herself and being patient with her progress helped Sherry move forward.

“Since my diagnosis and treatment, I try to look after myself more. Life is still very busy and hectic so sometimes it’s hard to achieve this! But I just do my best and don't beat myself up if I don't achieve things.”

These days Sherry splits her time between work, caring for her two boys and DJing – an old hobby she has rediscovered.

“I used to work all the time, but now I want to do other things. I have DJ gigs lined up and can't wait to get out and play again! I want to help raise more awareness, especially in different communities where I feel this is a problem and taboo subject. I am proof that you can move forward after having cancer and I am truly living my best life!"

Sherry and her son looking at the camera smiling

“Obviously I wish this had not happened to me, but I truly feel like I'm living my best life. I’m expressing myself in ways that I never did before cancer. Cancer has changed my life, but it has given me so much determination. We take too much for granted and I don't sweat the small stuff anymore. Life is too precious and I'm going to enjoy it!”

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