Under what circumstances did you detect the disease?
After I had my baby in 2014, I stopped breastfeeding and I developed mastitis and it lead into chronic subareolar abscesses. My symptoms were hot breasts, lump, and drainage.
After your diagnosis, please describe your journey in terms of treatment and how it affected you.
I had so many incisions and a lot of drainage. It was very painful, depressing and felt like it was never going to end. I was on antibiotics for about a year along with pain pills. I had to deal with packing and drains over and over till after a year the doctors felt like I had no cure and had to get both my nipples removed.
Can you talk about any of the emotional side-effects of going through a mastectomy?
After having my partial mastectomy, it was a relief because I had been in pain for a whole year with pus filing in my breasts, it felt hot constantly and was always cut. But the actual emotional part of it was rough because I am so young, it was so unexpected, I didn’t feel like a complete woman and my intimacy went down because I was insecure.
How did AiRS help you get your reconstructive surgery and how has this changed your life?
The AiRS Foundation completely changed my life! Since my diagnosis was not cancer and I did have a mastectomy, insurance said it was cosmetic. So I hit another low point in my life. I was depressed, discouraged and I felt like I was never going to be fixed. The AiRS Foundation has wonderful support! I was able to get my breast reconstruction and see Vinnie Myers to put on my areola tattoos. I, for once felt wonderful and complete again!
Looking back, can you give some advice for people going through similarly difficult circumstances?
Looking back on my difficult journey the best advice is to surround yourself with loved ones and talk about it as much as you need to. I’ve realized that when you do finally get the chance to reconstruct and get tattoos you will feel amazing again even though at the time you think it won’t matter. I, in fact, happen to love my tattoos more than my real nipples! Again I am truly blessed to have had the AiRS Foundation along my side.