Breast Cancer, Boobs, Oprah and Dr. Phil

Whew…my title is a mouthful isn’t it today?  I awoke this morning in a tizzy, perhaps because one of the furbabies was gagging on a hairball right beside my bed, but I was also dreaming that I was having a good ol’ fireside chat with Dr. Phil and it wasn’t going well….for him!  Forgive me this morning, but there are a few things I have to get off my chest (yes, pun intended) and ever since I read this article, I’ve been madder than a hornet.  I should explain this in a proper manner to you so that perhaps those without having endured breast cancer can understand and for those that have endured it, well, I hope you’ll be nodding your heads in agreement.

Page 58 in Oprah’s Magazine, you know the one ~ Oprah’s Favorite Things! that has just come out recently.  On this page in particular, Dr. Phil responded to a 54 year old woman who had endured a double mastectomy 4 years ago and was having trouble because her Dr. had ‘botched the surgery, and I had to remove my implants.  Now my new surgeon says my skin is too thin for another reconstruction – which means I will never have breasts.  My husband has been supportive, but I can’t help feeling undesirable.  And I don’t feel like me.  How do I get back my old self after such a loss?”

In my dreamed fireside chat to Dr. Phil, I gave him a full piece of my mind…and I didn’t spare him at all.  I dismissed his response to this lovely lady which in part was to “write down something affirming, like “I’m a strong, intelligent, attractive woman.”  Study those words….let that affirmation be your mantra…seek help from a therapist who specializes in self-esteem issues.  I wouldn’t worry about your desirability.  Looks are not what sustain s a man’s interest in a woman.  I’m sure your husband still sees you as the beautiful and brave woman he married.  To be happy, you’ll need to start seeing yourself that way, too.”  “A change in our bodies almost always changes how we feel about ourselves, too.  But the truth is, you weren’t a better person before your surgery, and you’re not less of a woman after it.”

Ohhh…that man touched on a live wire of a nerve with me!  Last night, our chat was a no holds barred type ~ one which I was very angry at his unwillingness to realize that she’d endured breast cancer and all that the mental anguish that being diagnosed entails and I shared the fact that even 10 years later, although I am cancer free, I am still leery every time I enter the oncologist’s office to be checked.  My blood pressure skyrockets because I know first hand of what I’ve been enduring for the last 10 years and I wiggle in my seat for the next week until I get my blood test results back.

Perhaps I should just recount my rant to you…and perhaps after reading it, you’ll decide I’m angry and you don’t want to read my posts…or that perhaps you’ll think I’m menstrual (nope, had the ovaries taken at age 35), but hopefully, you’ll see the gal you know who’s usually a sunny side of the street, glass 1/2 full girl tell you in a no holds barred way what she’s endured, how she’s triumphed and how she’s still taking baby steps forward everyday.  I hope I don’t lose my readers on this one. xo

Dr. Phil and I are seated facing each other by a beautiful fire in a living room somewhere.  It’s my turn to talk.

“I, too, endured a double mastectomy at age 34.  And perhaps I’m being sexist here, but sorry Dr. Phil, no man can even come close to understanding what it feels like to have your breasts removed and to think that you advised her the way you did (which reading it today, was really sweet but not meaty enough for me)…well, it’s what set me off.  I would love to know if you would advise a prostate cancer survivor who was sad that his testicles were removed in the same way?  Because,  for to me, that’s the male equivalent ~ well, not even because they aren’t seen in daily life.  Women’s breasts are out there, exposed ~ shape & size-wise, society-wise, they are checked out by all.  Do you know what it’s like to look in the mirror everyday and see train tracks of scars across your flat, nipple-less breasts, under your armpits (lymph node removal) and to have to wear falsies which move all over the place?  Then to endure every Tom, Dick and Harry Dr. and Intern’s roving eyes on your breasts as you are seen every few weeks to see how the scars are healing…only to endure the subsequent surgeries of reconstruction until you can finally have your implants installed.

And as with your reader, I had to have my implants explanted (removed) after a few years because they hurt and I was in so much pain!  The capsular contraction which was my body’s response to foreign matter in my chest caused me so much emotional and physical pain!  The silicone implants which were supposed to look like breasts twisted under my skin to form hard, ugly balls of pain which upon removal, gave my surrounding muscles relief.  The muscles also involuntarily contract around the tissue which is part of the constant pain which plagued me.  So I endured yet another set of implants, tear drop gummie bears ~ ah, such a cute name now instead of the flat stripper boobs they were giving us in 2002!  But alas, the same situation reared it’s ugly head for me just a few years after enjoying ‘natural looking’  teardrop shaped breasts except this time one of them ruptured, leaking silicone into my already ravaged body.

Not a walk in the park Dr. Phil.  It’s painful, it’s scary and yes, it does pack a wallop to your self-esteem!  That poor woman whom you’ve advised to write and speak affirmations etc., needs a bit of sympathy…a bit of love, a bit of hope and a huge hug for what she’s endured.  It’s not easy to have to choose to not have breasts even when you want them.  I, too, have thin skin from radiation, but I was blessed to find a surgeon who is so advanced that she is using my own body’s tissue to MAKE REAL BREASTS FROM OUR MY OWN BODY!  There is an answer to her desire ~ she CAN have breasts Dr. Phil!  There are advancements now and dedicated surgeons whose talents and advancements are helping women who are enduring this common plight!

It’s one thing for a woman to feel fine after breast cancer and to not want to deal with reconstruction.  To those women, I stand up and applaud because I share your enthusiasm for the scars that show that we are strong, we are courageous and we have beaten the C word!  I have seen many beautiful photographs of women who have exposed their scars for the world to see and I find their enthusiasm contagious and their scars radiant.  As fighters and survivors of any cancer and illness, we all deserve a standing triumphant ovation for simply enduring all that we have experienced.  Because until you’ve walked in our shoes, you have no idea what you’re talking about at all!

However, it’s a major change and emotional roller-coaster to have to deal with a single or double mastectomy at any age.  A woman’s breasts can be viewed as a part of her femininity and it is a major change in the thought process to accept your new body.  While I am a girl who believes in affirmations, what your reader was asking was how to find her new normal, her new femininity and her new self, because it’s a long process Dr. Phil.”

I went on and on (perhaps I’ll do another post) but for now, I thank you for reading and for sticking this one out with me.  I started this blog as my 10 year cancerversary began and it’s morphed into more than just inspiration, cancer tidbits and SendOutCards.  It’s become a sharing place I hope…and a place of friendship.  I am thankful for all of my readers and I pray that you’ll understand my post today.

Shine On!


38 thoughts on “Breast Cancer, Boobs, Oprah and Dr. Phil

  1. You go girl!!!

    The Presents of Presence posted: “Whew…my title is a mouthful isn’t it today? I awoke this morning in a tizzy, perhaps because one of the furbabies was gagging on a hairball right beside my bed, but I was also dreaming that I was having a good ol’ fireside chat with Dr. Phil and it wa”

    • You are so sweet. Not sure if I would attempt to send my blog onto him, but I’d like to ~ thanks for the encouragement. I may continue my story if nobody minds. Perhaps it can be used for anyone’s journey ~ at least that’s what I’d like to think! xo

  2. I love your passion. Well stated. It’s hard to hear the ‘high level’ view that ‘professionals’ tout when they really don’t have a clue to the deepest parts of our psyche and experience. Book knowledge is a great assistant, but it can never heal like someone who’s been through the hell and come through the other side. A map of hell is a tool for someone. But when we enter it, we want the personal guided tour through it.

    You have true insight and can reach this woman better than Dr.Phil can because you’ve been there. That’s why I love reading blogs such as yours. We share the real, nitty gritty truth and can help others on a level that no one but a kindred spirit can. I think this woman needs to hear from YOU.

  3. Definitely keep writing and I honestly doubt anyone is upset with what you have said. No one knows how a woman feels other than a woman in the same position. It is so important you share your experience with others. And although your words have probably helped many, the goal is to reach that one person who felt they stood alone without someone who truly “got” them. I can’t imagine all you have endured nor should I because it is your journey not mine. I love your blog, your story telling and more importantly your inspiring words….I say Dr. Phil should stick it!!

    • Thank you for your support and understanding. I am happy that you understood and I hope everyone else does as well. As for Dr. Phil, I do think what he said was good, but just not ‘meaty’ enough for me. There’s more to affirmations I think! Hugs to you xo

  4. I really don’t like Dr Phil. I’ve only seen him once or twice, but I don’t see sincerity, there, or even a real grasp or understanding of the people he scolds. I admire you’re standing up to him, even if it was in your dream! I’m glad you did. You show such passion! Keep on keeping on!

  5. Thank you so much for your support and understanding! I don’t know Dr. Phil enough to even comment and I never read that part of Oprah’s magazine…but as I was flipping through I saw this article, hence my blog post! Wish I knew the name of the woman he was counseling! xo

  6. Yup! You go. YES!!!! and… might I suggest you sell tickets to your conversation with Dr. Phil. I’d love to be there when he finally gets that his arrogant and insensitive response is part of the problem, not the solution.

  7. Great post! Thank you for being an advocate for this hurting woman. BTW, congratulations on your 10 year cancerversary!

  8. Thank you for your powerful post. I am glad that you are still in this world and are a survivor rather than one of breast cancer’s many victims. I have no doubt that you are making a positive differerence in this world when you candidly share your truth, heart, pain, anger, and disappointment. You are helping other women who are currently experiencing what you endured–or who have already survived such terrible times–to understand that they are not alone, and you help eveyone else to hopefully have a better understanding or perhaps just a greater sensitivity to the plight and fears and other feelings of women who are doing their best against a mighty adversary.


  9. Oh Russ…I am ever grateful for your comment…thank you so very much. I write in hope that I touch one person and when I hear that I did, well it makes all the difference. LIke you, I am a grateful woman! Hugs!
    P.S. Russ’ blog is called A Grateful Man! 🙂

  10. Well said, I still live with the botched up reconstruction surgery done to me. I appreciate your honesty in telling it like it is. Many say I should just be thankful I am still here, and yes I am, but is it too much to ask a surgeon to know when he is in over his head and not “practice” on me?

  11. That woman simply posed her question to the wrong doctor. Dr. Phil has so much status because of his former association with the OW show and then his own, which is a pity. Likewise with Dr Oz, a guy I really used to like. During one of his chats about good foods, he recommended a handful of nuts a day, walnuts, almonds, etc. so I started doing that. You just believe the guy coz he’s nice and on O. After a couple of months I had a permanently, slightly swollen esophagus and as it did not go away (I suffered from this for several months) I asked myself what changed in my diet and the word almonds popped into my head. I gave them up. The swelling disappeared after ten days. He didn’t mention that almonds and walnuts are high up on the list of allergens, did he now! In the end, it’s the gullible audience that attaches value to the advice from people we don’t even know personally.

  12. Pingback: Light the Way… | Misifusa's Blog

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