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Horrifying Surgeon Story

Posted 4/16/2015

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  Since I am going to be traveling most of the day tomorrow, I am writing twice today. We will be heading north to open our tiny Maine cottage for the season. There is still at least some snow on the ground on Mt Desert Island, but we will be so happy to be there that it will barely matter. When we pull up to the house, I walk around the car to open to back so our dog can jump out. She usually is sleepy and stiff after a long drive, but invariably jumps down, stands absolutely still for a few seconds, and then does a dog version of a joyful dance. It is clear that she is happy to be there, too.

  This is an incredible essay about an insensitive (actually much worse than that) breast surgeon. I would find it hard to believe except that I have heard similar stories before. In all honesty, this is a soap box issue for me. I strongly believe that all women facing a mastectomy need to be informed, in a neutral way, about all their choices: reconstruction at the time of surgery or later, types of reconstruction, no reconstruction. As my breast surgeon said: "Some women what two breasts. Some have one. Some have none. And they are all beautiful."

 Without further introduction, here is the start and a link to read more:

My Breast Surgeon Asked Me Why I Didn't Want to Be "Normal"

“Don’t you want to be normal?”
I was shocked that those words actually came out of the surgeon’s mouth. I think I must
live in a more liberal bubble than I realize. I couldn’t believe she’d just asked me that. Do
doctors really ask their patients such questions?
Wait—let me back up. You need context.
I have breast cancer, and was discussing treatment options with my surgeon, who was
echoing everything my oncologist had just told me: that’d they’d be recommending
chemotherapy before surgery, to hopefully shrink the tumor. If chemo shrunk my tumor a
lot, they could perform a lumpectomy—maybe on one side, or even both. If not, they’d have
to perform a mastectomy. But, she wanted to assure me, there was nothing to worry about,
because whatever they did, they’d send me to a plastic surgeon, who could reconstruct my
“Well, I might not bother,” I said.
My surgeon became visibly startled—and even a little agitated.
“Don’t worry,” she told me, “insurance will cover it.”
“No,” I said, “I understand that. I’m just thinking that breasts have been a nuisance for
much of my life, and I might be ready to be done with them.
And that’s when she broke out the line: “Don’t you want to be normal?”


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