Melly Testa, who is non-binary, was disgnosed with stage 3 breast cancer. Testa experienced delays in diagnosis and dismissal of their gender-affirming choice of closure after mastectomy. Their story was highlighted in a recent article by POPSUGAR (Sarah Youngblood-Gregory). In the article:
Testa … choose not to disclose their identity to doctors, a decision they “felt deeply.” But when Testa chose to opt for aesthetic flat closure surgery (AFC) postmastectomy — a surgery which would leave the chest fully flat — they experienced significant pushback from their medical team. “A couple of different times, my care team suggested that I might become gender confused were I not [to] reconstruct my body to breastedness. And for me, that wasn’t an issue, it was sort of offensive for them to make that assumption about my person.” Testa’s insurance was also resistant to the AFC surgery and denied coverage — in part because Testa declined more traditional breast reconstructive surgery and because AFC was not yet recognized as a valid form of reconstruction.
“Aesthetic flat closure queers breast cancer,” says Testa. “In my opinion, choosing to live flat is an example of gender nonconformity within the breast cancer community, as society, doctors, and insurance companies expect ‘women’ to want breast mound replacement surgeries. We aren’t a one-size-fits-all monolith.”
Video: Great Big Story
Testa is now cancer-free, and they have worked with Women’s Health, CNN, The Grace Project, and others to raise awareness about aesthetic flat closure, which is now in the US National Cancer Institute’s glossary as an official term.
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