If your loved one has been diagnosed with breast cancer, she will almost always be treated surgically, first with an initial biopsy and then later with a lumpectomy, mastectomy, or bilateral mastectomy. Additional surgery may be done on her lymph nodes.
A mastectomy is usually followed with reconstructive surgery by a plastic surgeon, right after the breast surgeon has completed his or her work in the same operating room. Emotional scars often follow the physical scars created by breast surgery.
In one of the earliest research studies on the psychological impact of breast cancer surgery on women, cited by Dr. Barron Lerner in his book Breast Cancer Wars, Richard Renneker, a psychiatrist, and Max Cutler, a breast surgeon, concluded that a woman’s breast is ‘‘the emotional symbol of a woman’s pride in her sexuality and her motherhood,’’ so that a removal of her breast attacked the ‘‘very core’’ of her ‘‘feminine orientation.’’ Breast cancer surgery is an invasion of a woman’s natural body. It’s every woman’s nightmare.