So it’s another Pink Post today ~ perhaps because I”m facing yet another surgery next month that I feel that this is pertinent today ~ or perhaps because I’ve been shopping for a bathing suit which is a challenge to most women, but to a woman who’s lost her breasts, it’s especially difficult. Being pasty white due to the still winter season here makes the imperfections stand out in that lonely dressing room mirror ~ don’t you think? I mean, even if you’re just a regular gal, it’s daunting to bathing suit shop at any time.
It is hard to accept the new normal when dealing with the physical changes that breast cancer brings to your life. If you’ve had breast cancer, you know that there are restrictions in the top area of a suit. No underwire and sometimes we need a bit of oomph in that area ~ ok, who am I kidding, we always need a bit of oomph there! If you’ve endured a mastectomy (single or bilateral), you may require prosthetics or perhaps you’ve had reconstruction or perhaps you’ve opted for neither. Either way, if you’re bathing suit shopping, it’s a hassle.
I had implants ~ I endured surgeries for 2 sets of silicone ~ one in 2002 when the only option was the flat, round type which we jokingly referred to as stripper boobs and the second in 2007 which again were silicone, but these were billed as the fancy shmancy tear-drop shaped, gummie bear implants which were to give a girl that hershey kiss natural look! Oh la la!
Well, bottom line for me was that my body disliked any implants and twisted them up inside of my breasts so that I endured terrible pain 24/7. In fact, it wasn’t until 2012 when I had to have them removed because one ruptured and leaked that I realized the amount of pain that I’d accepted as my new normal. But like the butterfly which transforms from the egg, to the caterpillar, to the pupa and finally to the beautiful butterfly ~ it’s how I feel about my breast cancer journey. 11 years ago, my breasts were removed to save my life ~ implants were used to make me look normal ~ and unfortunately, they twisted and turned inside me until one ruptured ~ and now I’ve transformed again ~ using my own skin and flesh to make real warm breasts from my own body ~ which won’t twist, rupture or be rejected! It’s amazing to me now to be pretty much pain free without my implants.
Even more amazing to me is that I have breasts again…I’ve come full circle. 11 years later, my body is mangled, scarred and numb in many places, but I have breasts again ~ squishy, fleshy, warm breasts. If you’ve been on the breast cancer journey, you’ll understand the mind-blowing significance of my statement and of the life changing moment to which I’m referring. I have breasts, healthy breasts again. This morning I feel that in my soul and in my body for the first time. I feel like a butterfly.
There are strange things happening in my body which I find so interesting too. I’m growing hair! Yes, I know, it sounds strange to be excited for this fact, but it’s true. I am excited because even my hair dresser thinks that my hair is growing back! I lost all of my hair with chemotherapy and when it returned, it returned as 85% grey (so lovely at age 35) and very thin! Not that I didn’t have fine hair when it fell out, but it came in even finer upon its return. Lately though, my hair feels and looks thicker and I believe that it’s due to the fact that I no longer sport silicone implants. Now I”m not saying this against them, I’m just telling you what’s going on with me.
I’ve endured 3 surgeries in the past year which were required to remove the leaking silicone implants and actually make breasts from my own body tissues. It’s been grueling to say the least and at times, I wondered to myself if all of the pain and suffering that I endured in 2012 was worth it.
Well, I’m here to tell you that YES IT WAS! For the first time in 11 years, I am trying on bathing suits without hard implants for breasts and it’s a glorious feeling! For the first time in years, the body temperature of my breasts isn’t 5 degrees colder than the rest of my body! Now when I hug others, I can actually feel them and there’s not 2 hard lumps between us. It’s wonderful, it’s exciting and it’s almost like a rebirth!
To think that modern medicine has come so far as to be able to do this makes me weep with gratitude. Now if we could just eradicate breast cancer in it’s entirety ~ that’s my wish ~ eradicate all cancers! I still have another surgery for this year to continue this progression, but I can tell you one thing for sure ~ DON’T GIVE UP! And Lands End has a bunch of mastectomy friendly suits!
Heartfelt thanks to Dr. Christina Ahn!