Breast cancer, preventative mastectomy, dysphoria, and self-love.

My mother and grandmother both passed away young from breast cancer. When I lost my mother, I was in the very early stages of pregnancy with my first child, and I felt as though the table of my life had lost two legs and everything atop was sliding towards the floor. 

She had done everything she felt she could to ward off, prevent, and get diagnosed early. And yet. 

Later, when I felt a lump in my left breast, I thought that my destiny had arrived. It turned out to be a cyst, a nothing, but my doctor raised the idea of a preventative mastectomy as we reviewed the negative biopsy.

Adrienne and Moya, 2002

It took a full year for me to know in my bones that this was the right path for me.

In the early days of my recovery, staring in the mirror at my bruised, deflated chest, blackened nipples, drains hanging pinned to my sweater — I didn’t recognize myself. 

I think any woman connected to the idea, presence, sexuality, and utility of her breasts and later has them removed experiences this dysphoria—an acute absence of sense of self, a disturbing confusion staring in the mirror at an unfamiliar body. I felt shame, and pain.

Imagine being born in a body that didn’t represent you. Everyone who has undergone breast surgery has a sliver of insight into the physical struggle of dysphoria, and it’s the transgender and gender creative community who may consistently understand this feeling best of all. This is one of the reasons I’m so proud to own a company with the goal of providing gender affirming care alongside cosmetic and wellness healthcare. 

I believe that when a client leaves North Bay feeling their truest, most authentic and best self, the ripple effect of positivity is enormous. And that’s true if we’ve treated wrinkles or treated dysphoria; or treated a tired body that needed some intravenous vitamin and mineral love. 

I know this because when my breasts came back and I slowly learned to love them as my own in their reconstructed form, a parcel of my power and my self was also restored. 

Whether or not my story and business resonate with you, I am proud to share about my family and experience, and I stand beside the many women in Marin who’ve undergone breast surgery. My staff and I are here for you, whatever your struggle. We champion all survivors of breast cancer and honor and remember those who have moved on from their fight, as my mother and grandmother have. 

Be well, North Bay Women.


Moya Meckel
Nurse Practitioner & CEO North Bay Aesthetics