Yes, it happened! After a devastating cancellation of my surgery, I have a letter in my hands from my insurance giving me the approvals I need to move forward. Wow…I get to actually decide what I can do with my own body.
So now, I can finally address the question that everyone has been asking me: “What the hell happened?”
Back to April 10, my planned surgery day. I thought that everything was in order and only had to worry having a successful operation. Little did I know that behind the scenes, there was a struggle between the insurance company and my surgeons. It’s so complicated and so many events unfolded following the cancellation but here is the short version: The insurance company didn’t believe that it was “medically necessary” to save my skin and nipples. In order to have an optimal outcome and allow me to retain some version of myself, my surgeons needed to perform a breast reduction before they performed a mastectomy. My surgeon and her staff worked as hard as they could to convince insurance that this was the best procedure for me. They fought and pushed back as much as possible on my behalf and I’m so thankful for that. We were all confident the claim would be approved.
But the insurance rep….a MAN…yes, a MAN!!!….said the reduction would not be covered. It also stated that reconstruction would only be approved if I had a total mastectomy. As in both breasts had to be ENTIRELY removed.
There is no reason to cut off an entire breast for no reason. If I absolutely needed to, if I had cancer and it was so far progressed that saving my skin was no longer an option, then yes, I would absolutely remove my breasts. It’s difficult enough to make the decision to have this surgery in order to save my life. To know that I will have a hard, long recovery. Know that my body will never look the same. But to cut off a body part and part of my identity like it’s nothing? To take my womanhood as if I have no emotional or physical connection? That’s just cruel and pointless. There is NO benefit to doing something like this. It won’t even save money. If insurance is willing to pay for reconstruction, they should be willing to pay for a breast reduction in order to save my skin/nipples. Maybe it’s not medically necessary for my physical health, but it’s absolutely 100% necessary for my mental health.
I know it’s not the same thing but with everything happening in regard to women’s reproductive rights and the government limiting what women can do with their bodies, I can identify. It really pisses me off that a man that has never consulted me, never examined me and never even met me thinks HE knows what is better for me than ME. A man who read my insurance claim, and didn’t even read it correctly, thinks HE knows better than the two female surgeons who I’ve been working with for months.
Actress Busy Phillips opened up about an abortion she had and gave a quote that really resonated me with and my situation: “Women and their doctors are in the best position to make informed decisions about what is best for them. Nobody else, nobody,”
I’m incredibly lucky to work for a company that values mental health and well-being. I can’t imagine the trauma of looking down at my chest and seeing nothing there. I’ve heard of women suffering from PTSD after having mastectomies and seeing flat chests. Why would you do that to a woman for no reason? Being back in that cloud of uncertainty, of not having peace of mind, I started suffering from anxiety again. I was taking Xanax. I had several panic attacks, including one the day after my surgery was cancelled. I hadn’t had one in months. I can’t live my life waiting for cancer to happen.
I can’t even begin to tell you how distraught I was. I had spent so much time mentally and physically preparing for that surgery. I had a plan and to have that ripped away from me just about broke me. I don’t think I’ve cried so hard in my entire life. I’ve never felt so scared and uncertain. I hated being back in the dark cloud and as though my body was my worst enemy coming to get me.
When word got around my office of what happened to me, people, especially the women, were livid. They were concerned about what other women’s healthcare treatments wouldn’t be covered or subjected to all this justification. The leadership went above and beyond to make sure the surgery was approved in the manner that my doctors ensured me was the best way forward. It took some time to happen, but I got approval on Friday. I was ecstatic. I felt like I could breathe again. I know how lucky I am and I’m so grateful to the people at my company for making this happen. And the silver lining of this is my experience has helped to ensure that no other woman at my company will have to go through such an ordeal. It makes the suffering worth it to help pave the way for others.
If there’s anything I learned from this situation, it’s this – We are in DESPERATE need of healthcare reform.
- Health shouldn’t be a profit. It’s sad that it’s a business. My life shouldn’t be something you see in only dollar signs. I had the best time trying to explain to my UK friends why this happened.
- It shouldn’t matter where we work and we should all have the same type of access to healthcare. I’m lucky I have such a supportive company. But I spoke to so many friends who said, “Wow, if that were my job, they wouldn’t give a shit.”
- Let women and their doctors decide what’s best for them. Trust them.
- And finally, I have a lot of bad-ass friends who all had my back and were ready to start fundraising if I had to pay out of pocket so I could have the surgery. Thank you all so much! I’m glad it didn’t come to that because coverage can’t wait. And there are sadly a lot of women out there who lack good insurance and resources so they need that help more than I do.
And to answer the question I also get asked a lot – yes, there will be another Booby Shower! 🙂