24-Year-Old Bravely Documents Preventative Double Mastectomy

24-Year-Old Bravely Documents Preventative Double Mastectomy

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After finding out about her increased risk of developing cancer, she took action

After discovering she was at an increased risk for developing breast cancer, a young woman decided to take her health into her own hands by undergoing a preventative double mastectomy. Not content to merely recover from the invasive procedure, she decided to share it with the world in the hopes of providing support to other women going through the same thing.

According to People, 24-year-old Paige More tested positive for the BRCA1 gene mutation last year, which carries with it an increased risk of developing breast, ovarian and other forms of cancer. Her reasoning for having the test done was a bad history of cancer on her father’s side. But it was her mother that suggested she be tested.

“My mom just kind of had a feeling,” she explains. “I was just completely overwhelmed, because I didn’t understand what it meant.”

More, a talent booker for “Good Morning America,” considered her options. She could either be checked regularly for signs of cancer, or get a double mastectomy to decrease her overall risk. She chose the latter.

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This is me, moments before my surgery. I had a smile on my face because I was ready to finally know I would be free from worrying about getting breast cancer. But beneath that smile was a lot of fear that I hid from the world. I didn't feel like I had anyone to talk to who understood what I was about to go through. I felt alone and unsure. I never want anyone else to feel like that. So I started this account as a way to share my recovery, my ups and my downs and the reality of the entire experience for my little sister, Cammy. I didn’t have a Breastie or anyone to talk to and I don’t want her to have to navigate genetic testing without having a community. So this is for you Cammy! And to any Breastie out there, please reach out to me if you have questions because I'm here to be your new breast friend! You're not alone! We are all in this together!! 💕

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She says, “It was this huge daunting feeling, because I was making this huge life decision and either choice was really going to change my life. Even if I choose to do the surveillance, I’m choosing to spend so much of my life in the doctor’s office. It felt less like a surveillance and more like I was waiting to get cancer, and I’ve never been that person. I wanted to just tackle this thing for my life and my future.”

More underwent the surgery this past January, and while she didn’t originally intend to document her journey on social media, she eventually did just that. In the end, it was her 13-year-old sister’s future chances of going through the same thing that prompted her to share. “While I was home recovering, I just didn’t want her to think that this is scary. I wanted her to look at me and feel strong and proud and beautiful. I just hope that in a couple years when she gets tested, god forbid I hope she’s not positive, but if she is she can think back to this and say that I can do this too.”

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I will never forget how excited I was to go back to see my doctors the week after my surgery to see if it was time to get my drains out. I was so hopeful because anyone who has had drains knows- THEY SUCK! (Literally!) My mom and I were rushing to get ready to get out the door and I remember asking her if she would snap a quick photo of me. I am so thankful that she did. I wanted to remember exactly how I looked and felt with these drains in. I never had drains before so it was so strange to me that the pain from my drains completely overshadowed and hurt much worse than the pain from where they removed my breasts. Oftentimes I wanted to rip the drains out because the pain and discomfort was so unbearable I didn't think I could take it any longer (my doctors are glad that I didn't!) Though I only had to have the drains in for a week, it felt like an eternity. I remember I woke up that day feeling like it was Christmas morning- today the drains were finally being removed! YASSSS!!! 🙌🏻🎁🎉

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In her attempt to comfort her sister, More ended up with a community of “previvors” she never expected to have.

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I wanted to post this picture of my drains being removed because so many of you have said you are nervous for your drains to be taken out! You're not alone, I was so scared! And I know this picture is intense and looks kinda scary, but trust me there is nothing to worry about! It goes so quickly! It didn't hurt me at all, it was just the weirdest feeling in the world. They literally just pull them right out of you. Its hard to explain it but they do it so quickly that they literally just slide right out. Like I said, the weirdest feeling in the world. It's such an amazing thing to look forward to! You'll be so happy!! The second they came out, I felt like a new person. I was physically so much more comfortable and I felt so free. Without the drains I was immediately less restricted and I could move a little bit better than I had been able to since my surgery. I never expected to feel joy and happiness only a short week after having my double mastectomy but I did. I want to hear about how you feel/felt about getting your dreaded drains removed… all I have to say is sayonara suckers!! 🎉💕

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“It’s honestly the most amazing feeling, I can’t even put it into words. I never expected such a beautiful amount of support. I call them my breast friends. You’re instantly connected to these people, even if you don’t actually know them. They’re in London, they’re in Australia, they’re all over the world, but you’re connected because you’ve been through something that instantly bonds you at a very intense level. It’s really amazing.”

Her Instagram account even nabbed her the chance to walk in New York Fashion Week with fellow previvors and survivors to model mastectomy-friendly lingerie.

The entire experience has changed More’s ideas about beauty and body image. “I realized that all different shapes and sizes look sexy. The idea in our brains is that breasts make you feel like a woman and breasts make you feel beautiful, and that’s just not the case. It doesn’t matter if you have big boobs or little boobs, real boobs or fake boobs.”

As someone who underwent this exact form of genetic testing, I applaud More for taking control of her life and her health. While my test thankfully came back negative, I had plenty of time to think about what I would do if it were positive while I waited for the results. I was pretty set on the preventative mastectomy too, and also, terrified. I felt alone as a young woman facing such a scary prospect. For More to share what she’s going through is not only brave, it’s beyond valuable to others facing this decision.

Currently, More is in the process of reconstructing her breasts via saline implants that are filled gradually to stretch her skin over time to eventually accommodate permanent implants.

As a result of her experience, More has a perspective on life far beyond her years and in the end, has zero regrets about her bold and empowering choice.

“I really was scared, was I making the wrong decision? But this is the best choice I’ve ever made. I no longer wake up worried that this is going to be the day I get cancer, or the day I find a lump. I look in the mirror and see my scars as strength, and I see the new shape of myself. I saved my own life. There’s nothing sexier than that.”