For Bendigo mother-of-two Sarah Fawdry, there was no indecision in having a mastectomy.
The 46-year-old had three cancer tumors in one breast.
Deciding how she wanted her body to look after the surgery was cause for reflection.
“For my own mental wellbeing, as well as physical wellbeing, it was important for me to remain as normal as possible,” Ms Fawdry said.
She opted for a partial breast reconstruction, for the reassurance of having some form on her chest.
In a few months, she’ll have the temporary tissue expanders removed and replaced with implants.
Ms Fawdry has been assured she’ll feel better after the surgery than she did before.
But 20 – 30 per cent of Australian women have felt regret after deciding whether or not to have breast reconstruction.
The same research showed the regret had a physiological impact on the women, according to the Breast Cancer Network Australia.
A new online tool has been developed to help guide already stressed women through the decision-making process.
The Breast Reconstruction Decision Aid, or BRECONDA, asks women a series of questions and provides information about the different surgical options available.
It covers stress management and strategies for communicating their decision to family members.
BRECONDA is hosted on the BCNA website and available free of charge.
Associate Professor Kerry Sherman and her team at Macquarie University, in Sydney, considered the many layers of decision making women faced when contemplating breast reconstruction as they developed the tool.
“BRECONDA does not encourage women one way or the other, rather it helps to guide them through the decision making process,” Associate Professor Sherman said.
Ms Fawdry was hopeful the tool would help women considering a breast reconstruction make an informed decision.
“When you are diagnosed with cancer you get so much information thrown at you,” she said.
One of the most helpful pieces of advice she was given was to be aware of where the information was, to draw upon as needed.
She also advised cancer patients to bring someone supportive with them to their appointments.
“Because you’ve got so much going through your head,” Ms Fawdry said.
Having a strong relationship with her breast cancer surgeon, Jane O’Brien, had helped her to make informed decisions.
“She was able to explain things quite simply,” Ms Fawdry said.
She was also thankful for the advice of plastic surgeon Hamish Farrow and Bendigo-based breast cancer specialist Rob Blum.
"The biggest thing is having a positive attitude about everything you’re doing,” Ms Fawdry said.
The support from her breast cancer nurses – one in Bendigo, the other in Melbourne – had been fantastic.
The friendship she has found since learning of the Pink n Teals Cancer Support Group, in Bendigo, has also been invaluable.
The group welcomes women with a breast or ovarian cancer diagnosis.
BRECONDA is available at www.bcna.org.au/resource/breconda