Archive for September 8th, 2010

Sep 08 2010

Cancer Chronicles: A Tale of Perfect Breasts Gone Rogue

I had very nice breasts.

I was an early bloomer, wearing a bra by 5th grade, a B cup by junior high.  I never got any of the middle-school teasing about being flat (nor did I get any flirting, as I suspect the middle-school boys were just as confused by as attracted to my tits). I was a C cup in high school, D in college, and an almost-double-D after college.  They were nicely shaped, regularly received compliments and looks, and felt lovely to the touch.  No worries, I have plenty of pictures for posterity.

My breasts were also preparing to kill me.

One can imagine that I have an interesting perspective now, on the whole boob experience.  Some days I want to write a manifesto, along the lines of “ladies, you are not your breasts”, but most approaches I think of are tired and tried or preaching only to the choir.  Had my breasts grown any larger naturally, I would have likely gotten a reduction, as the back pain was beginning to be unpleasant, and I’m sure there would have been interesting psychological ramifications from that choice.

My involuntary reduction, as it were, has some surprising benefits.  Moving on that side is so much easier!  Physical activities are much less cumbersome, and though I’m sure some of it is due to the contrast of the pre-and post-surgery states, some of it is just plain due to the fact that smaller breasts are AWESOME.  I actually don’t mind that I’ll have to have the other one off, as I think it’d be much easier to have a more active lifestyle without large fatty chest intrusions.

Thankfully, I have yet to have anyone bothering me about getting reconstructive surgery, but I’ll have some fun if anyone does.  As far as I can tell, given the side effects from reconstructive surgery — including loss of sensation and difficulty in subsequent chest scans for oh, CANCER, say — the main reason to have it is because of what OTHER people think.  (Unless one personally has an extreme body dysmorphic need to look “intact”, for example, and that’s much more rare than a socially-induced body perception that unless one has it done, one will never be attractive to others again.)

But what about the nipples?  I could get some reconstructed or tattooed on.  Again, my answer would be, why?  I don’t feel like my body is suffering due to lack of nipple. A constructed nipple won’t give me the sensation of the original.  A tattoo would look pretty artificial given the scarring.  And I think the scar looks cool, as does the remaining little ur-breast.  Now sure, I’m cosmetically vain enough to pursue asking the original surgical oncologist if he’ll be able to do the preventative surgery to remove the other one, as I think he’s more likely to be able to match the other’s scar and shape or come close to it than a random surgeon would.  But I won’t weep too hard if I can’t have that option.

I think the regular massages, swimming, and yoga have helped my body during recovery to assimilate its new shape as part of the body, just as the acceptance of my new form by loved ones and friends has helped the emotional integration.  I’m quite irritated with most of the literature out there for post-mastectomy people, as it seems to perpetuate an attitude of “something wrong with the body”, none I could find that promoted a post-surgery genuinely body-positive attitude.  What are some good ways you, Fearless Readers, think I could do to help address that lack?  Obviously continuing to write these posts and others like them is one thing; are there others?

4 responses so far