Artifact Motherhood | My Double Mastectomy Part I

Six days after a double mastectomy surgery, my heart raced and my fingers began to tremble as I read through my test results. I backed up and read them again more slowly. Was I reading this right?

It was in bold capital letters:


That can't be right. I just had an MRI two weeks ago and the results were clear. Does this really say I had cancer in my left breast?

I took a screenshot and sent it to my sister, Lauren. She would be familiar with this terminology because she had survived stage III breast cancer less than six years ago.

She texted back.



Just then my phone rang. It was my doctor, the breast specialist. She sounded emotional.

"So I really did have cancer?" I asked in disbelief.

"Yes. But this is the absolute best kind of phone call I can make. We caught it early. The cancer had not metastasized. Your margins are clear. Normal protocol would be to start hormone blockers and radiation, but in your case we don't need to do anything. Your mastectomy is prevention and a cure. You don't need to worry about recurrence. But I do want to see you every six months for the next two years."

I was in tears. Tears of disbelief and utter relief. Tears of gratitude.

I had cancer! I beat it before I even knew I had it - knocked it to the curb in one day! How did I deserve to be so lucky? I had cancer but I get to skip it too? This prognosis meant I would not have to endure the treatments that would make my body tired and sick the way I saw my sister endure. My mind wouldn't have to run through all the emotional worry. Instead, I would get to go biking and camping with my family this summer - worry free with my health!

What. A. Miracle.

In that moment, I felt more loved and seen by my Heavenly Father than ever before! And in the same breath I also felt unworthy of such a miraculous blessing. Life isn't fair. So many women go through so much worse.    

Suddenly, all the puzzle pieces came together. Heavenly Father knew my timeline. God knows everything from beginning to end!

When my sister was diagnosed with breast cancer at age 28 in 2017, doctors found the cause to be an inherited BRCA2 gene mutation. Instead of suppressing tumors, her body was more likely to make them. It was imperative that I test for the gene too. As it turns out, I am also a BRCA2 gene carrier.

So for the last few years I have faithfully gone in for screening tests every six months. I had a feeling of peace though. Upon opening those results, my gut *knew* I would not have cancer any time soon. I could have one more baby and nurse him. And so I did! Ezra was born and I nursed him for 18 wonderful months.

Fast forward six months later to this past summer, however, and I had a recurring thought. "You should get a doctor's appointment. Find out if it really is necessary to get a double mastectomy."  Of course I pushed it off.  

Then my husband Bron called on the phone. "Hey, I've been thinking about ya. Have you gotten a doctor's appointment yet?"

I knew it was more than just a thought then. It was a prompting and I needed to act on it.

So I got a routine check up with a nice nurse practitioner who referred me to a highly rated breast specialist in the Boise area. Six weeks later I drove over to the big city to meet with this doctor. I anticipated I'd feel more confused about which direction I should pursue but instead left the appointment clear headed and happy. How strange to feel good about scooping my breast tissue out like a jack-o-lantern!

I met with the plastic surgeon about my immediate reconstruction a couple of months later. This time I brought Bron along with me. He too felt good about the decision to go forward with a double mastectomy. 

My mastectomy always felt right, but it doesn't mean it was an easy decision. Once we set a surgery date for February 24th, the realities suddenly became very real. I silently freaked out. I woke up in the mornings having dreamt about it. I searched the internet. I could hardly eat the day before surgery! I was so scared. 

Fortunately, surgery went smoothly.  Currently, I am resting and healing.

I am so glad to have that source of anxiety behind me! A double mastectomy is an extreme prevention tool, but I feel so validated. I made the right decision, at exactly the right time. Coincidences like that just don't happen; it was orchestrated. God knows me and was watching out for me and our family! He has another purpose and work for me in mind. Wow. Nothing but gratitude over and over and over again. 

Today I am the luckiest cancer survivor statistic ever.

Saying goodbye to the OGs before surgery.  The IV Ninja nurse hooked me up!

The morning after surgery.  
Drains.  Tape.  Padding. Sharpie lines on my skin.  A giant nerve block.


This is Artifact Motherhood -- a project shared with other female artists around the world who are documenting our journeys as mothers and creating memories for our children through our photographs and words.

Please visit the next wonderful artist LEILA BALIN to read her post in our blog circle.


  1. What an incredible story Jessie. I am over the moon delighted for you and the outcome. xx

  2. Oh my goodness, this made me cry to read. Such an incredible story and thank goodness you took the action you did xx


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