Ashleigh was 35 and a busy mum of 3 children.
Upon discovering a lump in one of her breasts, she spent a day at the doctor's office having a mammogram and several biopsies performed. When she returned several weeks later, she was met by six people with one thing to say:
'"We're really sorry, but you've got cancer."
More biopsies followed, as well as two MRI scans.
It wasn't easy, but Ashleigh ultimately made the decision to have a mastectomy.
'"I remember waking up after it was done, not wanting to leave the hospital," she recalls. I thought, '"Oh, God, it's quite safe in here; there were three other ladies in the ward that had had the same thing done as me. It was a bit scary, going outside, because I remember suddenly it was like, 'Is everyone staring at me? Does everyone know that I've had my boob removed?'"
One year later, Ashleigh went back and had reconstructive surgery.
Mr. Armstrong, her surgeon, was fantastic.
'"Because of your young age," he said, and because of your lifestyle, you'd benefit from having a DIEP flap."
Which, Ashleigh was quick to say, basically gives you a tummy tuck, something very handy post baby.
Post-reconstruction, Ashleigh was uncomfortable for about three weeks. But then, all of a sudden, it got better.
In fact, she went on holiday six weeks after the operation.
When asked what advice she would give to other women looking to undergo a mastectomy and potential breast reconstruction, Ashleigh was more than willing to offer up her thoughts.
'"Research everything," she said, '"even if you're not sure about what you want to do. Go along and speak to the consultant, because they can answer all of your questions; they can guide you. If you've got any concerns about anything in particular, they can put your mind at rest... there are always other options out there, and there are different ways you can have reconstruction."
'"I think a lot of people think they've already gone through too much to then go through reconstruction," she freely admits. '"But I think, as a person, you feel better about yourself and your confidence, everything else."
'"Under my clothes, there are obviously scars, but with my clothes on, nobody would be able to tell the difference.
And now, I feel like it didn't really happen."
Ashleigh has now completely moved on from cancer, putting it all behind her, content to focus on a busy life looking after 3 children.
As you read this please keep in mind that all treatment and outcome results are specific to the individual patient. Results may vary. Complications such as those typically associated with surgical procedures including, but not limited to, infection, hematoma, seroma formation, recurrence of tissue defect, fistula formation, inflammation and adhesion formation are some of the adverse risks. Consult your surgeon for a more complete list of indications, warnings, precautions, adverse events, clinical results, and other important medical information.