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Humor: Medicine for the Spirit

Updated: Mar 1, 2018

My name is Emma. I’m 22 years old. I am French and I live in Holland. After my mom broke the news of being BRCA2 positive, I took the test as well. In August 2017, the results came in and I am BRCA2 positive. The BRCA 1 and 2 genes are the BReast CAncer genes. Everybody has those genes that protect your body against developing cancereous cells. If you are tested positive, it means that there is a mutation in your gene which leaves you less protected to certain cancers while highly increasing the risk of breast and ovarian cancer (and additionally making you a badass X-men). Due to my family history and the mutation, I have 85 percent risk of developing breast cancer. I chose to go for a preventive double mastectomy which consists in removing both breasts. I did not want to be closely checked in the hospital every few month for the rest of my life.

The surgery took place less than two weeks ago on Feb. 13, 2018 in Amsterdam. During the double mastectomy the surgeons “emptied” my breasts and placed tissue expanders under my chest muscle. They will fill these up every two weeks after surgery to expand my muscle

and skin to the size of implants I want. After that process a second surgery will take place to

take the expanders out and replace them with implants (that is what they call the “exchange surgery”).

When I entered the hospital on Feb. 12 to get my mastectomy, I was quite anxious as you can imagine. The plastic surgeon came early in my room to draw the lines on my chest for the surgery the next morning. I did play tough until I had to go sleep that night. I asked for some sleeping pill to be able to close my eyes.

The next day, my first surgery happened. I had some heavy internal bleeding after it. My left breast was huge and filled with 700ml of blood, and my drains were both filled with about 500ml of blood. I was in a lot of pain. The doctors had to perform a second surgery. It was no fun at all. I could not breath properly but I still managed to make a joke to my plastic

surgeon on the surgery table the second time, telling her she could keep this size in mind because the swelling and the blood got my left boob a full D cup.

She laughed and told me she will, but that this should happen after a few weeks. I lost about two liters of blood in less than six hours. I had to stay for two days at the hospital before I could go home. I had to move to a new apartment and had a lot of great friends helping me out with it.

I was medication wasted, in pain, and irritated because of those horrible drains going out of my sides and keeping me from moving the way I wanted to. I took it easy and sat on the couch while my brother was unpacking some boxes in my new house.

That’s when I did the dumbest move I had done in a very long time.

I hate spiders. I really do. I am a vegan so you’d think I love all animals, but spiders make my heart race. I was comfortably sitting with a blanket and all of a sudden, a big spider decides to land on my freshly cut open breast. The adrenaline came up so fast that I punched my breast with so much power and will that I surprised myself. It was as if I did not have surgery four days ago. I screamed and cried hating myself for a good 30 minutes, while my brother couldn’t hold the: “Emma. Really. WHY. Emma. You are so dumb."

I did got a little more worried about my mental health than my breast at that moment indeed.

Looking back at these moments, I still smile. Finding humor and staying positive in all the

experiences life throws at you is a gift, and it feels so good to do so. Humor and laughter are the medicine of the spirit, you can never have enough of it even in very dark situations.

Laughter got me such nice memories of this hard week, I am very thankful for that. Life is such a beautiful gift!

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