Breast Cancer: Women Often Choose Mastectomy
Surgeon, Family Opinions Affect Patients' Decisions
WebMD News Archive
Support Is Critical During Decision-Making Process
Amy Rauch Neilson, 39, says she relied on family and friends after receiving
her breast cancer diagnosis in March 2006. Her husband, Don, and sister, Lisa,
accompanied Neilson every time she met with doctors to discuss her
“They just kept coming, and their support meant everything,” she says. “Even
if you think you’re strong enough to do it yourself, you really need
Like Davidson, Neilson opted for a double mastectomy almost immediately
because of her young age, a family history of the disease, and a strong
suspicion that she had the BRCA1 gene that by some estimates carries up to an
80% lifetime risk for developing breast cancer.
Neilson’s maternal grandmother died of breast cancer when she was 46 and her
mother died of the disease at age 53. In 1985, her older sister, Julie, was
treated for cancer in one breast at age 26. Two years later, she was treated
again when cancer was found in the other breast.
Neilson’s suspicions were confirmed soon after her double mastectomy was
performed. Davidson also found out after her surgery that she carried the BRCA
Both women say they have no regrets about choosing mastectomy over breast
“The awesome thing -- if you can call anything about having breast cancer
awesome -- is that breast reconstruction is just amazing these days,” Neilson
says. “Right after the surgeon took my breasts, the plastic surgeon came in and
began the reconstruction process. So when I woke up after surgery and looked
down I already had some cleavage.”
Davidson says her reconstructed breasts are actually an improvement over the
ones nature gave her.
“I was pretty small chested and now I have the perkiest breasts on the
block,” she says.