Owning a horse and having preventative double mastectomy and possible reconstruction advice!

Joined
12 June 2019
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2
Hi everyone
I'm new here, and have been lurking reading threads etc.
In January I found out I have one of the breast cancer gene alterations, so I'm now planning a preventative double mastectomy, and maybe reconstruction.
I bought my horse last year, before I knew all this!
So I am looking for some advice/experience that anyone here might have about the recovery and getting back into the saddle.
My horse is on full livery, and I've got a few people who will be happy to ride him for me while I'm incapacitated. He's very strong on group hacks and jumping though, so progressing to that will take a while for me.
Reconstruction is something I thought I wanted, but I'm not sure. I'd quite like to hear from anyone that has and hasn't had recon!
Thanks in advance
Caroline
 

AdorableAlice

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24 October 2011
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10,700
Hello, a rotten situation to find yourself in, someone will be along to help you I am sure.

I had BC, lumpectomy but lost quite a lot so I am lopsided, chemo rads ect. A friend went through the same and then on return of cancer decided to go for full surgery. She also had to have another round of chemo so wasn't well for a good while. She did not go for recon as she couldn't face anymore surgery and wanted to get back to her horses. It was 8 months before she felt comfortable and confident enough to get back on board. She is mid 50's and hasn't gone back to the competitive riding she used to do.

You have to accept you will be off games for a good while and be very guided by your surgeon. Even with my limited surgery I couldn't get back on a horse for 4 months, I was having chemo then too, but the scar had settled enough to let me ride, gently and on a steady horse.

Looking back I realised that no matter what plans you have, how long you think you will allow yourself to recover etc, all that goes out of the window when you feel so utterly SHxxt that you can just accept you need to rest. The times passes and you can return to normal.

There are some very good forums for everything concerning BC with some excellent advice, experiences and guidance.

Good luck and very best wishes.
 

Littlebear

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27 November 2017
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One of my horsey friends went through similar, in addition to chemo etc, she was unable to do anything horsey for several months recovering but did heal well. She has reconstruction much later on. When we went to the initial meetings at the hospital (she didn't have a partner so I was with her) we met a large group pf women who were stood in a room topless ready to share their stories with people going in, even the thought now makes me want to well up at how brave they were to do that, very few had opted for reconstruction and as you can imagine were very disfigured in that area, talking to those ladies many felt that they had been through a lot and didn't want any more 'procedures' that weren't necessary.
My friend did have the reconstruction done but quite a while later and was delighted with the results as the initial wonkiness had made her feel quite self conscious, I think had she had a reassuring partner she may have felt different but she wasn't that old and felt her confidence lacked to be able to go and meet someone new.
 

Ruftysdad

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22 October 2012
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There's a really good Blog on H&H written by pro event rider Nana Dalton, who is going through a very similar situation.

Here's the link to the first Blog in the series - it's called: Nana Dalton's "getting back on my feet" Blog.

https://www.horseandhound.co.uk/news/nana-dalton-riding-after-double-mastectomy-673852
My friend had the Brac 2 gene and chose to have both breasts removed. She had initial reconstructive surgery at the same time she had her op. She made a rapid recovery and later had permanent reconstruction. She says she made the right decision and is very happy with her implants
 
Joined
12 June 2019
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Thank you all for your comments, and @Northern Hare very much thanks for pointing out Nana's blog posts, some reading for me at the weekend I think!
I'm very lucky that although my horse is forward at times, the rest of the time he's very gentle and is happy on a long rein hack!
@Ruftysdad I am also BRCA 2, and I wasnt' going to bother with surgery, but having had some time to think about it I realised I just really didn't want to get cancer and have to go through treatment - prevention is better than cure is so true for this.
 

KrujaaLass

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Sorry to hear of your bad news. When I was 45 had surgery to remove about 1/4 of breast. Just sailed through everything. No problem after about a month riding my pony. Fast forward twenty tears. The cancer came back so had to have a mastectomy. I opted for recon in same operation. I think recovery depends on what recon you have. I opted for diep flap where the take flab from you stomach. This involves being cut practically hip to hip. My recovery was very slow. I waited about three months before taking my dog out and further few months before riding. Didn’t walk properly for ages. Other recons may not be as intrusive as I felt it was the stomach wound that held me back. I also went to one of the meeting where these poor woman bared all. I ran out in tears and could not cope with it. I nice lady showed me her recon in private and it looked amazing. I opted not to have nipples tattooed as I felt I had been through enough surgery. Good luck to you whatever you decide x
 
Joined
1 October 2018
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As someone with a family history I think preventative surgery is really sensible and I wish you luck. You won't be having chemo or radio which slows healing time but if you have a simultaneous reconstruction be prepared for a long rehab.
I had a tram flap reconstruction taken from the tummy in 1995, I was happy with no implant but there are more options now, just take your surgeon's advice and don't be foolhardy.
Unfortunately I was diagnosed before I knew I had a genetic fault, I've had years and years of treatment so if such a thing is possible, think yourself lucky.
 

Ruftysdad

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As someone with a family history I think preventative surgery is really sensible and I wish you luck. You won't be having chemo or radio which slows healing time but if you have a simultaneous reconstruction be prepared for a long rehab.
I had a tram flap reconstruction taken from the tummy in 1995, I was happy with no implant but there are more options now, just take your surgeon's advice and don't be foolhardy.
Unfortunately I was diagnosed before I knew I had a genetic fault, I've had years and years of treatment so if such a thing is possible, think yourself lucky.
Hi Caroline&louis. If you feel it would be helpful I will ask my friend if she would have a chat with you. She too is a horse rider. PM me if interested On way back from Mexico now so unable to access internet until late Friday
 
Joined
25 February 2019
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Hi. I had breast cancer 3.5 years ago. It’s a very personal decision and everyone is different. I opted for a single mastectomy which meant no chemo or radiotherapy and was back riding within six weeks, albeit I still tired quickly. The most important thing is to explore all the options and then decide what feels right for you
 
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