I was shocked. I’d gone from fine to being advised to have both breasts removed.
‘I don’t know if I can go through with it,’ I sobbed to Edward.
‘You’ll always worry if you don’t,’ he said gently.
Deep down I knew he was right. But on the day of the op I couldn’t help bursting into tears when the surgeon drew incision lines on me.
I was losing such a big part of myself, my femininity.
Looking in the mirror afterwards, I felt a rush of sadness. I was so flat I resembled a teenage boy.
Eleven days after the op though, a follow-up appointment confirmed I’d made the right choice.
‘The pathology results from your breast tissue show you had DCIS, which is a very early type of breast cancer,’ the surgeon said.
The mastectomy meant I didn’t need further treatment. Also, the 87 per cent chance of having breast cancer in the future had been slashed to just two per cent.
Even though I felt relieved, recovery was tough. My body was sore and I hated how I looked.
Six months later, I had reconstruction surgery using implants. It helped me feel feminine again but I still hated the scars.
‘You’re beautiful,’ Edward would say, but I couldn’t see past the marks.
Then, this February, I saw a Facebook post from a photographer, Lauren Crooke. She was offering someone the chance to win a photoshoot.
Her work focuses on celebrating women of all different shapes and sizes.
Typing a message, I told her my story, saying I never felt comfortable because of my scars. I couldn’t believe it when I won!
We’re going to make you fall in love with yourself, she wrote.
A few weeks later, I was waiting at Lauren’s studio.
‘How do you feel about taking off your top?’ she asked warmly.
After gentle encouragement, I took the plunge.
And when she showed me the snaps later, I burst into tears. I looked so confident, I barely recognised myself.
Feeling proud, I shared a pic in a private Facebook group, which supports women with a mastectomy.
In it, I’m posing on a plush armchair, topless.
This photo shows everyone you can look and feel beautiful, I thought.
But Facebook blocked the post and barred me for 24 hours. It stated I’d breached its community standards on nudity or sexual activity.
I tried to argue the case, especially as Facebook also states post-mastectomy photos are fine. But I just got an automated response.
It was so disappointing.
I was made to feel ashamed when those photos were some of my proudest moments.
Framing the pictures, I hung them on my bedroom wall and in the living room.
They’re a reminder of how far I’ve come.
And now I’m proudly sharing my photo here too, so other women who might be facing surgery have hope.
Now, I feel much more confident about my body.
Even though Facebook has banned my body-positive photo, I refuse to let it get to me.
The pictures have taught me how to love my scars.
Early sign of breast cancer
Nipple discharge (ND) can be an early sign of breast cancer. It can be thin or thick and range in colour from clear to milky to yellow, green, or red. If it occurs without squeezing the nipple, occurs only in one nipple and is bloody or clear (not milky), then you should always consult a doctor.