A tutorial about the different ways to stuff your bra if you opt to not reconstruct after mastectomy oh and also about going flat post breast cancer...
As everyone knows who follows me on social media, I only have one boob. I wrote about my complicated relationship with my breasts here complicated-history-of-boobs-a-treatise-by-a-breast-cancer-patient.html and wrote about my decision to not reconstruct here to-reconstruct-or-not-to-reconstruct-that-is-the-question.html.
I did not reconstruct and I have no interest whatsoever in reconstructing. I walk around mostly with just the one breast but there are some issues. Paramount is the issue of being lopsided. It is uncomfortable to wear a support garment ALL of the time. So without one, the left breast just hangs out uncomfortably while my right side is free. So I continue to put my pressure on my left side, I notice my shoulder curving in on the right side to compensate for the unbalance.
When I was diagnosed and operated on, my main focus was on getting the cancer out of my body. I also refused to google or share my story at that time. There is a lot I could have learned if I had just been able to break free of my own shame and fear. Mainly fear with a dollop of shame.
I think I would have requested a bilateral mastectomy right away. I remember, though, vaguely, it being discussed as having little or no benefit to remove both breasts and that mastectomy does not cure breast cancer and some other tidbits. I was not thinking clearly though so I could be wrong.
I realized shortly after my connection with social media and other women who have experienced the breast cancer plot twist that I want to be flat. I know, it is insane. The same girl who did, "I must, I must, I must increase my bust" wants to be flat.
This December is my one year post op for my original mastectomy and I feel as though I am "healed" enough on the right side to remove the left breast. Funnily enough, my husband is upset about me wanting to remove lefty.
Obviously, it is not his choice but I find it odd that he would be so supportive of me losing righty and not reconstructing it and now have qualms about losing the left one and being totally flat. I can still, if I chose, pretend to have breasts (which is what I did way back when with socks and tissues) but this time with the inserts that are cheap, light and available on Amazon - www.amazon.com/gp/product/B071L816NB/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o07_s00?ie=UTF8&th=1 (and no that is not an affiliate link - so feel free to buy it and not assume I am promoting it to get anything in return).
I will keep you posted on what happens when I ask for the left one to be removed. I am just hoping it is not going to be because I NEED to remove it - just prophylactically and to have an even body - so that I can dress how I want and be comfortable without being half jiggly.
This is what I do in the time between....
I could not wait to have boobs. As a child, I read the seminal book for preteen girls everywhere, "Are You There God, It's Me Margaret" (Judy Bloom) and tried the exercises mentioned in the book (everyone with me, "I must, I must, I must..." you all said the ending, I know it!). I even did some creative stuffing with socks and such to try to get some curves.
I grew up in a houseful of boys - 2 brothers and my dad and my grandpa - I wanted to be girly and I was. Before I knew it, I had boobs and I was so happy to wear frilly fancy bras (all uncomfortable) and I was always excited to be noticed by boys - sometimes men - check out my evidence above - one picture is from my freshman year of high school right after 8 grade graduation -- I was 13. I look 33.
As I got older, I just enjoyed having curves; wearing tank tops and having just a decent amount of cleavage that camouflaged the fact that my belly was never flat.
After having children, I knew my belly would never ever be flat and I embraced it all the while still loving my feminine shape.
I mean, once I left my teenhood, I was basically in long term relationships (one from 12-22 and then at 25, I met my husband) so it was not like I was out there hooking up and shaking my boobs all over town .... but, man, what I would have done if I had know I would lose my right breast at 39. (Commence montage of Lisa shaking her boobs all over town.)
The main thing is I would have taken naked (but tasteful) photos of my body - honestly, I would have done that anyway if I had the gumption, I would have done it just to marvel at what I looked like at 135 pounds - you know, when I was convinced I was too huge for words and now how much I would love to right that again but it ain't happening..
Now that I am working on becoming a breast cancer survivor, I know I cannot wear any of the shirts I used to wear. First of all, post mastectomy, though I lost a breast, between the surgical scar and the lymph node extraction I can no longer fit into my life long medium sized tops. (Sidebar: funny how my body went through 2 pregnancies, gained about 20-40pounds - sometimes more from my 135pounds- and could always fit in a medium shirt size.)
I need large tops and I need more of a high neckline because I don't have cleavage anymore - What is the singular of cleavage? Cleave? That's all I have is just the one breast. Also I can't have the sun on my skin especially since I just finished radiation in July.
For some time, my skin was too raw to wear any bras or prosthetics but I mainly stayed at home or wore big shirts and vests and stuff to hide the lumpiness on one side and the flat on the right side.
Now, at Disney, it's too hot to even care about my body shape, style or even dignity. I went out and proud with a fitted tee and no prosthetic. I wore just my coobie bra with the small padding and so I had a huge left boob (in comparison only; at most I was a 36-38C depending on my weight) and a little tiny padding on my right side.
I don't know why I haven't done it before. I mean, no one stared at me, pointed at me, laughed at me -- I don't know if I might be going viral on some website called "Freaks of Disney" (is there one, am I on it?) but I felt fine and still felt feminine and just more comfortable than I have been since I learned I had breast cancer in November 2016.
I am going to try to mix things up back home and not always wear the prosthetic. Here in Florida, I am one boobing it the rest of the trip! (Except maybe at the water park that prosthetic is just like a light sponge on my chest and it feels good to keep the chlorine a little bit further away from my skin).
Thanks for listening to my boob story and please let me know what you think about going flat on just one side :).
I recently posted about the process it takes for me to leave the house now with fake hair and fake boob What Not to Say - I am basically a Vegas Showgirl...
When you are preparing for a mastectomy, part of the process is meeting with a plastic surgeon as one of the "benefits" of getting breast cancer is new boobs. Even if just one boob is trying to kill you, you can get the poisoned one replaced and the other one can be lifted and improved, too - all covered by insurance (if you are lucky enough to have insurance, of course).
I kind of felt from before I was even diagnosed at each screening mammo that I would not reconstruct. I always felt just the idea of boobs and dealing with the screening was work enough and often thought we should all just get the boobs removed because what is the point of carrying around things that so obviously is unclear as to what causes them to get diseased. As I mentioned, I have no history of the disease and no known risk factors and yet here I am someone with dealing with breast cancer.
I am lucky though - lucky that I had screening mammos that began at 34 and not the new ruling of 40 and up because I was diagnosed literally on the eve of my 40th birthday after some inflamed ducts at my screening at 38 put me on the 6 month squeeze plan. From my previous scan at 38 that showed minor inflammation in the duct of my right breast, which is common to breast feeding and too small to biopsy oh and had a 99% chance of staying benign was within 6 months a tumor and definitely malignant.
It would ultimately turn out to be 5.6cm of cancer with 5 of 25 lymph nodes infections - otherwise knows as Stage 3 Cancer. From diagnosis to surgery, I had only 17 days. 17 days to figure out what exactly was going on in my body - all of which was truly not known until I was operated on but more on that journey in another post.
For now, the perks of breast cancer is getting that appointment with the surgeon to pick out your new boobs. I was first told about this new process by which they take fat from other parts of your body to reconstruct your breast and when the surgeon asked to see me disrobed, her first words were "You are obviously not a candidate for the fat shifting procedure." And I said, "Why because I am too skinny??" Note: I have never been too skinny for anything. She stared at me and said, "No - it is just too risky for you with xyz condition."
On that note, I was shown before and after pictures of her work and although impressive, I did not see me in those pictures. As someone who since puberty did enjoy having boobs and wearing low cut tops now as a mom of 2 and someone whose decollete was trying to kill me, I was really in the flat camp for boobs.
I did not think it through as clearly as I could have as I was going to still have a boob - and be uneven in an extreme way. I always had one boob that was bigger than the other but I did not really process how I would now just have one boob. Period.
The nurse in the office did try to get me to see the error of my ways - she said the normal about how I was so young and would want to have the appearance of two breasts and even the office acknowledges that the surgery does not give you a normal breast - just the appearance in clothes of having normal breasts.
It seems all selfish of me to put myself under for a longer amount of time, to delay my chemotherapy and to go in for additional surgeries just to have the appearance of breasts. I was ultimately at peace with refusing the reconstruction of the diseased boob and makeover of the other.
Now, I will not say I regret it but having to do these extra steps to be people ready is very annoying. I would often run out without wearing a bra even though my boobs were not perky and camera ready and one thing I really do lament is not getting a picture of my boobs when I had the pair I was born with but you do not get to where I have been in life without learning the issues of leaked nude photos so I just have the pics of cleavage that I often showed and no real idea of what the missing boob really looked like besides a faint memory.
Over all, I am happy with my one boob and my prosthetic but I do see maybe down the road going for the reconstruction (one other perk is you can do it at a later date, if you so choose so the window on my reconstructing is not yet closed).
The key is beating the disease, of course, but sometimes, you really want to look hot doing it and it can be hard to look hot when you are lopsided because your prosthetic won't sit right in its pocket. Just something else to manage in the time between....
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