Above is a picture of good friend and fellow ‘Right Winger’ Katie Deal. The story below appears in today’s QLD paper – The Courier Mail:
Young mum takes radical step for sons
FAMILY HISTORY: Breast cancer survivor Katie Deal with her sons, Joshua, 4, and Oliver, 2. Picture: Jono Searle Source: The Courier-Mail
IT’S a decision many women who have a strong family history of breast cancer grapple with.
But, for Katie Deal, to have a double-mastectomy at just 30 years of age after she was diagnosed with cancer in her right breast, was the only choice – she had two young sons who needed her.
Oliver was just eight months old and Joshua two years old when Mrs Deal learned she had the same cancer suffered by her mother, aunt and grandmother before her.
“I said anything that will improve my chances – do it,” Mrs Deal said.
“If they wanted to cut my leg off, I would have said: ‘Do it.’ The survival mode is so strong as a mother. You just want to be there for your kids.”
Initially, she had a lumpectomy, to remove the tumour from her breast, then six months of chemotherapy and six weeks of radiation.
But a year later – after taking into account she had been diagnosed with triple-negative breast cancer, a particularly aggressive form of the disease – Mrs Deal decided to have a double mastectomy to reduce her risk of a recurrence.
Doctors performed her reconstruction surgery at the same time.
The 32-year-old, who has since tested positive to a mutation in the breast cancer gene BRCA1, praised breast cancer charity Chicks in Pink for helping to soften the emotional kinghit that came with her diagnosis.
I went for a solo ride around a common circuit today called ‘The River Loop’. Many Brisbane cyclists do this loop on weekends. From door – to – my door it’s about 45kms or so. I needed to do something highly physical to force my mind off pending results for the ovarian/uterine scan I had yesterday. A 12mm benign calcification is present on my uterus, as it is with many women who’ve had children or are aging (maternally). Fear returns so rapidly when ‘something’ shows on scans and so forth. This is how it’ll be from now on around medical check-ups or bodily sensations that aren’t easily explained, as the bad thing has happened – I had the big C – and it could come again. May it never!
The concern I have with my breast cancer spreading to my ovaries or uterine lining is so great that next year I’m having a radical hysterectomy. I’m also doing this so that I can stop going into the day oncology unit every month and getting a zoladex injection to turn my ovaries off. Unfortunately, I can never use them again and at 37yrs of age they still pump out way too much oestrogen to be left alone. Plus the needle that delivers my monthly medical pellet – zoladex injection – is 0.5mm diameter.
Footnote: my team ‘Breast Friends for a Cure’ returns next year for the 2012 Ride to Conquer Cancer. This week I’ve started getting bike fit again after nearly 7 weeks hiatus from regular riding. Of course I was away in New York for two of those weeks.
My friend Katie sent this picture to me. It’s remarkable body art! I’d imagine the woman would want to walk around with an open shirt or topless to show it off. Before my bi-lateral mastectomy reconstruction I fantasised about getting a moth tattooed across my chest in the style of natural history illustration. I saw this as a way of reclaiming my body. However, after getting my nipples tattooed the last thing I want to do now is get an inked needle inserted into my chest again and again – no more pain for me, for now. Also my idea of reclaiming my chest or my sense of self through tattooing has altered. Maybe someday!
I had my final breast and areola tattoo check today. If the colour fades too much on my nipples I can return and get a fill-in – otherwise – I’m another doctor down. I got quite attached to my plastic surgeon – he was interesting and his steady natured self removed my dangerous breasts and then returned them anew.