Breast cancer survivor Anne Cantle didn’t choose to have a breast reconstruction for the sake of ‘’vanity’’, rather she opted to have the surgery for her sanity.
It took her a decade to come to that decision however and now the Fairy Meadow woman, who had the reconstruction six weeks ago, wants to urge others to explore their options as soon as possible.
The 52-year-old’s story will be shared at a breast reconstruction awareness event at Wollongong’s City Digger’s Club on Monday evening.
The event, organised by national charity Reclaim Your Curves, will also feature presentations by Wollongong oncoplastic breast surgeon Dr Tony Palasovski and reconstructive surgeon Dr Adrian Sjarif.
According to the charity, the rate of breast reconstruction after mastectomy in Australia is just 12 per cent – one of the lowest rates in the western world.
‘’In 2007, I’d just been through a mastectomy and couldn’t face more surgery and thought that it was just about vanity, that I could do without a breast,’’ Ms Cantle said.
‘’As it turned out, I was not comfortable with a solo breast; finding clothes to wear, worrying about people staring if I flashed my scar, or if the prosthesis was going to pop out, and it was a daily and constant reminder of the cancer diagnosis.
‘’I had no confidence, going out was a nightmare and I was a shadow of my former self.’’
Ms Cantle battled with depression, her marriage fell apart, and she could not contemplate a new job or relationship. Last month’s surgery – a free flap breast construction – has given her a new lease on life.
‘’I went to the shops this week and for the first time in 10 years it wasn’t a traumatic experience – I was able to buy bras and normal clothes,’’ she said.
‘’I went home and chucked out everything I’d worn for the last decade. I’m now ready to embrace life again and I can’t believe I left it so long.’’
A Reclaim Your Curves spokeswoman said up-to-date information about the various procedures could be hard to find, particular in regional areas.
Those interested in Monday’s free event, from 5.30-9pm, can book at www.reclaimyourcurves.org.au