WebMD BlogsBreast Cancer

Why I Decided to Keep My Breasts

Megan-Claire Chase - Blogs
By Megan-Claire ChaseAugust 17, 2021

Determining what kind of breast cancer surgery to have is daunting. There are a lot of factors to consider when making that decision, like the type of breast cancer you have, the size of the tumor, your family history, genetic testing results, your age, etc. That’s why it’s important to have a breast cancer surgeon and a plastic surgeon who you can trust. They should also have a history of working together to discuss the best options for your body.

As I considered which breast cancer surgery to have, there were only two things I was sure of after talking with my care team: One, a double mastectomy is NOT a cure, and two, it’s an extremely personal decision and yours to make. 

My breast cancer and plastic surgeons were both skilled and fantastic. They made sure I had all the testing needed to come up with the best recommendation, and they let me know that ultimately the decision was mine. It was the one part of my cancer experience that I could control.

I used to be under the misconception that a double mastectomy was the best and only choice, because I thought it would prevent a recurrence. The cancer can’t come back if both breasts are removed, right? Well, that is not quite true. I learned that even if both breasts are removed, you can still become metastatic. You can develop metastases in your chest wall or another part of your body. I remember being shocked when my surgical team explained this to me.

There is no guarantee that cancer will be gone forever after surgery. That’s why I no longer use the words “cancer free.” I prefer to say, “no evidence of disease.”

Once I was armed with all the information about my type of breast cancer (stage IIA invasive lobular), genetic testing results, and family history, I agreed with my surgical team and decided a lumpectomy (removing the lump in my breast) was the best surgical option for my body.

I was feeling great about my decision until I told others both in and outside the breast cancer community. I was surgery shamed. I heard countless times:

“You’re only getting a lumpectomy.”

“Why wouldn’t you want to remove both breasts?”

“You won’t be cured unless you have both breasts removed.”

I was horrified, dismayed, and angry about these ignorant remarks. That’s when I realized that Breast Cancer Awareness campaigns may have done a disservice to women. It seems like they highlight women who had a double mastectomy as the warriors of the movement because it’s the most invasive surgery. But how often do we hear breast conservation being celebrated?

I am still satisfied with my lumpectomy, breast reconstruction, and breast reduction. I know I made the best and right choice for my body. I made the decision armed with facts. It was not one that I made lightly. My surgical team said we must stop going off antiquated knowledge and practices when it comes to breast cancer surgery.

Having breast cancer no longer means an automatic loss of both breasts.

Having breast cancer no longer means that a double mastectomy will prevent metastases.

Having breast cancer no longer means that you are without options.

It is up to each woman (or man) to be armed with the facts about your type of breast cancer, family history, genetic testing, and take into consideration what your surgical team recommends. More importantly, don’t let anyone surgery shame you if you decide against getting both breasts removed. All surgery is invasive and scary. At the end of the day, it’s an extremely personal choice and one that should be supported and not shamed.

To connect with other breast cancer survivors, join our  Breast Cancer Facebook Support Group

Photo Credit: Yuliia Blazhuk via Getty Images

WebMD Blog
© 2021 WebMD, LLC. All rights reserved.
Blog Topics:
About the Author
Megan-Claire Chase

Megan-Claire Chase is a 5-year breast cancer survivor in Atlanta, GA. A sought-after influencer in the cancer community, Chase shares her experiences in her blog, Life on the Cancer Train. She has written for Cancer Health magazine, SHARE Cancer Support, and Patient Power and has been featured in The New York Times and People magazine. Follow her on Instagram and Twitter.

More from the Breast Cancer Blog

  • photo of

    Breast Cancer Treatment Changed My Relationship With Food

    I never realized how vital my taste buds were until I lost them during chemo. There was a long stretch where everything had a metallic or extremely sour taste....

  • photo of young woman shaving her head

    Bald and Boldly Beautiful

    It is fair to say a cancer diagnosis makes you uncomfortable -- it places your realities front and center, pressures you to think about what matters...

View all posts on Breast Cancer

Latest Blog Posts on WebMD

  • photo of doctor talking with child
    ADHD in Children

    ADHD and Your Doctor

    Finding a doctor you love is hard, generally. Does the doctor listen to you? Do they take your input seriously? Respect your time and not run 2 hours behind...

  • photo of man lifting weights
    Sleep Disorders

    How I Live With Sleep Apnea

    When you have sleep apnea, it can interfere with your life. You may feel tired, have a lack of motivation, or otherwise not feel all that well. It’s important...

View all blog posts

Important: The opinions expressed in WebMD Blogs are solely those of the User, who may or may not have medical or scientific training. These opinions do not represent the opinions of WebMD. Blogs are not reviewed by a WebMD physician or any member of the WebMD editorial staff for accuracy, balance, objectivity, or any other reason except for compliance with our Terms and Conditions. Some of these opinions may contain information about treatments or uses of drug products that have not been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. WebMD does not endorse any specific product, service or treatment.

Do not consider WebMD Blogs as medical advice. Never delay or disregard seeking professional medical advice from your doctor or other qualified healthcare provider because of something you have read on WebMD. You should always speak with your doctor before you start, stop, or change any prescribed part of your care plan or treatment. WebMD understands that reading individual, real-life experiences can be a helpful resource, but it is never a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment from a qualified health care provider. If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor or dial 911 immediately.

Read More