I have been putting off writing this entry but I know, many of you must wonder. Kind of like when someone has a big old zit on their face and you can't help looking at it (no matter how hard you try not to) and about which you would never, never never say anything about. So you wonder... what is it like to lose a boob.
At first when you hear the words, you need to have a mastectomy, the whole thing is just as surreal as it gets. For me, it was shortly after a Mystery dinner we hosted where I was dressed as a French Maid. That is one of the last photos I have of me before the surgery, in my low cut French Maid outfit. I suppose, in way that is just about as perfect as it gets (for irony).
When we found out I was going to have a mastectomy I went to see a plastic surgeon about the possibility of having reconstruction. He looked at me and said, "well I wouldn't advise it. You are a little heavy and maybe if you lost weight, then you could consider it. It could be your gift to yourself if you lost weight." Glenn and I left the meeting and her turned to me and said, "I couldn't care less if you have reconstruction." And you know what I really believed him, because he was telling the truth.
When the gurney was rolling into the operating room, I was trying to keep a light demeanor, but all of a sudden, I got it. I was going to come out of this surgery, altered, different and I would never never be the same again, and I cried. The surgeon quickly put me to sleep.
When I woke up I was bandaged from my neck to my waist. It was really kind of difficult to know what the heck was under there. There were drains and other unnatural appendages coming out of the bandage. The bandage was like how you swaddle a baby. Tight, and warm and somehow comforting.
By the time the bandage was removed, I had already moved into my coping mode. In the beginning, I had phantom feelings where my boob used to be, but those faded as did my immediate disbelief. I went to get a prosthesis and bra, to go with my wig (that I never wore). I bought my swimsuits and bras with pockets. Over the years I have avoided low cut tops until I figured out you can put a camisole under them. I have never had reconstruction and probably never will. I have gotten used to the sight of my chest in the mirror. But I dislike ever thinking about necklines when it comes to fashion.
Now that I am older, there have been times when I have thought....maybe its time. Maybe its time to get those perky saline models, where I would be able to throw all bras out the window. I think about it and then again, I decide, I am fine the way I am. The state of my chest is not the definition of what kind of a woman I am. It is a fashion accessory that I could do with or without. I don't know if I would ever have been able to be as accepting of the REAL me, if I hadn't lost part of me. But you know what, I would definitely advise other people to avoid this kind of a lesson. That is why one of the reasons I am walking. That is why I am trying to tell this story. I know it is a topic you and I have tried to avoid, but we can't afford to avoid it any longer. These stories about my journey are not easy for me to write about even now, 14 years later. But right now there are other women who are receiving the news, "I' sorry, you need a mastecomy." They all have their own stories to tell or keep to themselves. Each journey is very private and very life altering. Its time for me to share mine and by sharing, I hope, inspire you to be the difference it takes to END BREAST CANCER now.
Together we can change the course of thousands of women and men's lives.
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