Doctor and former patient discuss preventive mastectomies

BOWLING GREEN, Ky. – Graves Gilbert is decked out with pink in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness month and is working to inform the public of about a lifesaving preventive procedure.

One in eight women will develop invasive breast cancer at some point in their lives.

Mastectomies are well known for the removal of aggressive cancers in women.

But did you know that if you have the gene that increases the chance of developing breast cancer, you could be eligible to receive a preventive mastectomy?

Many women, such as Brenda Shrum, have undergone the procedure while cancer free to largely lessen the likelihood of enduring cancer later on.

Shrum had her mastectomy after finishing chemo and the removal of cancer from one of her breasts as a preventive of a recurrence of the cancer.

“I feel like it was a good choice for me because I had younger kids and I felt like I wanted to be here for them, for my grandkids. And I just felt like that was the choice and with my family history, the chance for it coming back was, was big,” said Shrum.

Doctor Vidya Seshadri says the decision for some is a quick reaction to fear, but it can come with a large amount of trauma to a woman’s self-esteem and confidence, so the decision should not be taken lightly.

“Take some time and think about what [you] want to do. It is a long journey, life is a long journey, and you have to ask yourself, ‘what will I feel 10 years from now, five years from now,’” said Seshadri.

She does say it is a very good idea for young people who are likely to get breast cancer in the future and who are finished having children.

For Shrum, she said most people were supportive of her, although some people did ask her if what she was doing was too dramatic.

“’Are you sure you want to do this?’ ‘You’re not going to feel the same about yourself,’ ‘You’re not going to look the same.’ To me, it would’ve been nice to hear ‘if that’s what you feel like you need to do, do it. I’m behind you,’” said Shrum.

Seshadri says from her experience, most spouses are very supportive of their wives’ decisions when it comes to whether to get a mastectomy or not.

She says it is extremely important for a woman making the tough choice to have support from those around her.