When Catherine Guthrie was at the age of 38, she developed symptoms of breast cancer including a lump on her left breast. Later, she was diagnosed with breast cancer.
She was a women’s health journalist and had also written about the experiences of breast cancer survivors and was also aware of the latest treatment innovations.
- When breast cancer survivor Catherine Guthrie went to her surgeon for removing the drains, she realized that he had missed the lump in the exact spot where her cancer was before.
- This taught her the importance of the relationship between doctors and patients. She explained how females can deal with the male surgeon because of gender problems.
- She said that there is a long history of women being treated like this and it is our responsibility to stand for ourselves. This is what inspired her to write a book to talk publicly about patients and doctors.
- Even when the doctors told her about the reconstructive surgery, she opted to go flat. Catherine Guthrie was always comfortable with her choices, however, she also had feelings of loss.
- She explained that most of the women did not get to know about the other option of going flat rather than opting for reconstructive surgery. She said that it is important that all the possible options including going flat must be presented.
- Even when women opt for going flat, most doctors convince them and change their minds. During the surgery, some doctors even make their own decision and leave a little extra skin in case the patient changes their mind, she added.
Dr. Deanna Attai, an associate clinical professor of surgery at UCLA’s David Geffen School of Medicine said there may be any number of reasons for a woman to opt for not having reconstruction. She was initially interested in surveying as the earlier research conducted suggested that those who denied having reconstruction had a poorer quality of life that did not match up with what she was seeing in inpatient communities.
What she was reading in the surgical literature and what she was seeing online did not seem to connect as the patients looked happy with their decision. They were also in the organizing support group to educate others about going flat and to support each other!
They developed an entirely new survey as they were concerned that the existing survey seemed biased towards reconstruction.
She mentioned that they were working closely with the patient advocates just to be sure that they get into the real issues about the quality of life and comfort with their decision and satisfaction with their decision.
Attai also said that she was a bit surprised to find that many women were happy with their decision!
Susan Brown said that it is important that the patients are connected with their providers. Firstly, she mentioned the importance of information that is being provided to the patients to make their own decisions.
Secondly, about the importance of physician support to acknowledge, understand, and respect the patient’s wishes.
In recent years, mastectomies have been in the increasing trend. Not to opt for reconstructions is not new, but unfortunately, this is not discussed openly.
Flat: Reclaiming My Body After Breast Cancer
In breast cancer survivor, Catherine Guthrie’s memoir, Flat: Reclaiming My Body After Breast Cancer, she explains her battle with breast cancer. She has also mentioned her partner Mary’s interactions with the medical system and male surgeons.
FLAT is all about feeling comfortable in our own body after getting a double mastectomy and also opting not to get reconstructive breast surgery. After learning that it might impair her strength and mobility she chose to “go flat”
Around 50% of single mastectomy patients and 25% of double mastectomy patients prefer staying flat after the surgery. Many women choose flat-chests over reconstructed breasts!
She has also mentioned why she decided to go flat and how some doctors restrict when women make the decision.