“Although I had always liked my breasts (they were small, 34B, but nice), once I was diagnosed with cancer they just did not seem important anymore, you know, compared to my life! One thing I learned on my cancer journey is that my self-esteem does not come from my physical appearance”
When considering the decision to be breast free, you may wish to take into account the following questions. We have not provided answers, as everyone's situation is different. Your treating team is best placed to answer these questions for you.
You might want the answers to some of the questions straight away, while some may become important later on. Some questions might not matter to you at all. You can either ask these questions directly, or use them as a guide to put together your own questions. Many of these questions can be directed toward your breast surgeon, but you may like to ask your Breast Care Nurse, GP or other member of your health care team:
These listings provide links to the websites of organisations with a particular focus on choosing to remain breast free. The link will direct you to the home page where you can search their site independently.
A non-profit US website that presents the option of not having a reconstruction as a positive and empowering choice. It is relevant to women considering whether or not to have reconstruction and for women who have already decided against reconstruction.
This list includes downloadable fact sheets, pamphlets, PDF documents and web pages. The information on these websites includes evidence-based information by organisations that may subscribe to reputable online health information standards such as the HONCode.
The Beacon Magazine produced by BCNA – Issue 42, Autumn 2008. This edition is primarily about reconstruction but also contains a story, 'My Choice' (p. 5) from a woman who chose not to have a reconstruction. [PDF:920KB]
This web page discusses some issues that women might wish to consider when making a decision about whether to have breast reconstruction following a mastectomy. Includes, recovery, aesthetics, sexuality and fashion, as well as questions to ask your surgeon.
This is a list of hard copy resources such as books and DVDs that are not readily available online.
This joyful and positive book was created by women who have experienced breast cancer, and provides the information they wish they had had access to when they were diagnosed. It is a large format book featuring full-colour images. It offers so much more than pictures, as it is possible to search for women who have had specific types of surgery and reconstruction. The 38 people featured in the book (37 women and 1 man) have had a range of experiences, reactions, procedures and outcomes. Available to view in the Counterpart Resource Centre. Not for loan.
Carey, K & Linaschke, J., No Scars No Stories, 2015
This list directs you to websites containing personal stories both written and in video format, and includes blogs and online forums. The information contained in these links reflects the personal experiences of individuals and does not constitute evidence-based research or information.
Due to the nature of the topic of this Navigator, some material may be anatomically explicit, and include photographs of surgical procedures, and patient’s surgical scars after mastectomy. It may contain material that may be upsetting or offensive to you. Please consider this before viewing the links.
Australian fashion blogger Genevieve Esgate was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 35 and chose not to have reconstruction following her mastectomies. She aims to help women find their "new, fabulous and feminine" selves following mastectomy.
Australian woman, Sharon, was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2013. She chose not to have breast reconstruction, and in this blog, she shares her fashion tips.
This Open ABC video tells the story of Judy Pippen, an Australian woman who was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2011. She wanted to share positive images of her mastectomy to counteract the depersonalised medical images she was shown when she was making her decisions about surgery.
After Melanie Testa was diagnosed with breast cancer, she decided against reconstructive surgery. In this short video, she shares her story of becoming comfortable with her new body.
A website providing information, advice and support for women considering whether or not to have reconstruction and for women who have already decided against reconstruction. It contains a number of personal stories and blogs, focusing on living breast-free after mastectomy surgery.
A closed Facebook group for anyone who has undergone a mastectomy, has chosen to live breast free, and wants to connect with others. Search the web to find the related Flat and Fabulous website, Pinterest, Twitter and public Facebook page.
An online forum about choosing not to reconstruct after a mastectomy. The forum is located on the US website 'BreastCancer.Org'.
An online forum based on information gained through qualitative research. It includes stories by women about why they chose not to have a reconstruction.
Know a personal story we could share? Give feedback below.