I used to be the girl who was a little too comfortable parading around topless in the gym locker room.
Now, I’m the girl who changes in the shower stall as quickly as she can.
I used to be the girl who loved her real, full breasts.
Now I’m the girl who tries to not to look at her boobs.
How do I feel almost two years after double mastectomy? Ambivalent.
Or, would that be, “am-boob-alent?”
I’m thankful that I’m in remission (knocking on wood, while I type), but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t constant reminders of what was and how much my life has changed since my diagnosis. Since my reconstruction, my breasts are the same size as they were before the surgeries. But, they don’t feel or look like my old breasts because they’re not.
The media tends to focus on celebrities who had double mastectomies preventively like Angelina Jolie or who didn’t require chemotherapy and radiation like Giuliana Rancic. I appreciate that double mastectomies are not easy for any woman to go through. But, if the surgery is done preventively or the woman’s breasts don’t have other scars or burns on them, the surgery typically can be performed with smaller incisions and less obvious scars. How does that impact a woman’s thoughts about her breasts at a minimum or overall self-esteem and sexuality at a maximum?
Since I’ve had radiation, as well as biopsies and lumpectomies (12 in total over the years), I was not a candidate for any surgery involving smaller, less-noticeable incisions. As a result, my boobs have an equator-like scar around the entire width of both breasts. Given my connective tissue disorder and subsequent pregnancy, the skin around my breasts has stretched significantly. I need at least one and possibly two more surgeries to tighten the skin and add nipples. Several of my survivor sisters have found that getting nipples and completing reconstruction have made them feel more like themselves. I hope that’s the case, but that doesn’t change the fact that my old boobs are gone.
I might not like my post-reconstruction breasts or flaunt them, but I try not to let my “foobs” impede me from my day-to-day life and expressing myself and my sexuality. And, I do take comfort in the fact that having a double mastectomy significantly lowered my risk of recurrence. The reasons I had the surgery in 2012 are still valid today from a personal and a medical perspective. At the end of the day (again, knocking on wood), that’s what’s important.
How can you stay on top of your breast health?
PS This post was written by Stef Woods of City Girl Blogs™ of CityGirlBlogs.com. If you are reading this post in its entirety on another site, please know that said site is scraping my feed in violation of my copyright policy.