Breast cancer brings up two subjects that most people aren’t comfortable talking about openly: Cancer (and therefore mortality) and boobs.
Okay, some people talk about boobs pretty openly, but only with certain people they know. But I don’t want to talk about boobs in that way.
For some girls, breasts are a major part of their identity. This is particularly the case for those of us who were blessed beyond the norm for our size, and sometimes we don’t even realize how much of our identity is put into them. I really mean identity, here- not self worth, though, that is occasionally the case as well.
In the last year to year and a half, I went from a DD to a small C and now I’ve only got one of ‘em!
I’d be lying if I said this hasn’t taught me a thing or two about myself and my identity.
I started eating healthy, working out and making an overall effort to be healthier near the end of 2011. It was super gradual until the beginning of 2012. Obviously, as the pounds shed, the boobs shrank and I was amazed! I’ve never been a big girl, but I’ve been curvy for as long as I can remember. I really loved that they shrank, and when I realized it—I found that shocking.
Fast forward to being diagnosed with breast cancer.
In the short time between diagnosis and mastectomy, I got really concerned with how much my body has changed and how my identity had already BEEN affected. Not how it would be affected (yet).
It hit me like a ton of bricks and I was ashamed of myself for being so upset about things that ‘are so petty in the face of cancer’.
I kept it to myself MOST of the time and it nearly drove me mad.
Post mastectomy, here I am.
I have 3 breast forms and I only know where one of them is right now, because when I get home I toss it like I do my shoes. I put it somewhere and hope I’ll find one before I walk about the door again.
And LET ME TELL YOU. These things SUCK.
I am 27 years old. I’m starting to get wrinkles as the elasticity in my skin gives in to being overly expressive. And, since I have been spoiled with good skin my whole life, I tend to do the minimum when it comes to creams and cleansers.
This does not just apply to my face, guys.
Especially after you lose 15 pounds! (So far, I don’t have saggy arms, and for that, I am thankful.)
Let me get to the point.
Breast forms are solid. And I mean SOLID. While I may have the correct size equalizer/breast form, it is one perky little boob when compared to a normal human breast. It does not need lotion to help with elasticity or sag to the side when laid on its back. It does not mold beautifully into a favorite bra. It just… IS.
And it’s kind of plastic-like, so this humidity coupled with my body heat means that thing basically becomes a suction cup to my perfectly flat and sculpted pectoral muscle.
Taking off a bra will never feel as good as it used to, because I can compare it to taking out a breast equalizer.
Some days, particularly hot days (which I have a LOT- thanks Hot flashes caused by Tamoxifen!), I curse myself for listening to my surgeons nurse. The surgeon asked her, while we were meeting one final time to plan surgery, “Are we giving her an expander?” To which she replied, “No. Not at all.”
I had done a good bit of research on my own and saw no real reason for one, but wasn’t opposed to it, either, if they thought it would help in the long run.
So, my surgeon leaves the room and the nurse says, “I’m sure you just heard him ask about giving you a breast expander. I felt like you wouldn’t need one- and by that I mean that medically, it will be more trouble than it is worth for you. It won’t help when we reconstruct (meaning they will have to transplant tissue with or without it) and they can be really painful. We usually only give it to women to help with confidence—some women just want to wake up and still have a something there.”
I told her I didn’t really care if anything was there. Because I didn’t.
But boy do clothes fit weird. And if it meant not wearing these horrid breast forms and equalizers?
Well. Yeah. Sometimes I really wish I had acted like I really cared about waking up and feeling like I still had some semblance of a breast. But I didn’t.
(I would like to note that this is the case for me, not everyone. An expander can be very helpful for some women. I’m also not knocking wanting something to be there when you wake up from surgery. Totally get that, too.)
And now I have 3 breast forms.
Two are what they call equalizers and are heavy latex type things with plastic coatings. Of those, one is a size too big (::cough cough:: a size too perky) and the other is the correct size, but incredibly dense and heavy. Also, Albus just found that one and ate part of it, rendering it useless.
I also have one that is called a breast form. It is foam and not weighted, so it slides up my chest and occasionally out of my bra all together. Can you imagine your fake boob falling out of your shirt in Target while you look at shoes?
I have experienced that.
It was like I had been caught stuffing my bra or something… well, I guess I HAD been stuffing my bra, hadn’t I? Anyway, this one is super comfortable because it is light and has a cloth covering. It is usable in a bathing suit, which is why I got it (trying on bikini’s is going to be so much fun!).
In all seriousness, though. These things are rather important! I have left the house only a few times without a prosthetic, usually because I couldn’t find one and my shirt was loose enough or my bra was formed enough (or both working together) that it was just not noticeable, and as soon as I remembered it, I got a little panicky.
I get panicky because I DO have an identity that involves my gender norm. Not only my gender norm, but I have seriously always had boobs. Realizing that takes the guilt out of caring about it and makes me see that I am not petty to care about them.
I am a woman, and I want to look like a whole woman. That is totally not petty! I am officially putting this all on the table because I think that if someone had told me this, I wouldn’t have let it get to me so much. Now that I’ve accepted it, I’m obviously okay telling you guys that my boob fell out in Target and all sorts of other things.
So, I guess I need embrace my love/hate relationship with my breast equalizers and schedule an appointment to replace the equalizer that my dog ate, huh?