"Why I Gave Up My Breasts"
Margaret's Story, Continued
Mostly, though, I thought about how it would affect my daughter. After a mastectomy, you can't pick up anything heavier than a gallon of milk for a month. If I had chosen reconstruction as well, I wouldn't have been able to get on the floor and play with Emmie for nearly a year without worrying about her bumping my chest. I didn't want to miss that precious time with her. I might have had the reconstruction if it had been important to Patrick, but luckily it wasn't. He said, "I love you for you, not your breasts."
The fact that I'm a runner also helped seal the deal and gave me the strength to say good-bye to my breasts for good. I appreciated them for their obvious charms, but in all honesty, because I'm a petite person, I had always felt as if they belonged to somebody else. And, seriously, I hated all that bouncing.
Running helped me through my recovery. I started jogging two weeks after surgery. It was a bit weird at first because I had lost six pounds in upper-body weight and that threw my balance off, but I got my legs under me quickly and felt great. I loved going without double sports bras; it was as if I had been set free!
I ran the 2009 Marine Corps Marathon just four months after my surgery and qualified for the Boston Marathon, which I ran the following spring. Proving that my body is powerful and awesome really boosts my confidence.
Still, there are times when I'm shopping for dresses and I think, Things would be so much easier if I had gotten small implants. But those moments are rare, and I don't regret my decision. Taking action against the gene for the sake of my health has been the most empowering thing I've ever done. I'm a better mom, wife and person now. These days I've been working with FORCE [Facing Our Risk of Cancer Empowered; facingourrisk.org], a "previvor" group for those affected by hereditary breast and ovarian cancer, and I share my story with women who are facing double mastectomies and deciding whether or not to reconstruct. Last year, through the organization, I also had the opportunity to appear topless as a body double in the Lifetime movie Five, about breast cancer. I'm glad I did it, because I want women to see the real thing. I want them to know: Womanhood isn't defined by your breasts.
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