Sunday, July 18, 2010
from breasts to grenades
My breasts are gone. I just wanted to clear up any confusion that I created while I was trying to sugar coat things with myself---I don't have a choice when it comes to having cancer, but I made the choice to remove both breasts. I also made the choice to have reconstruction, phase 1, started. Cancer leaves you with little or no control over your body, something that, for a control freak like me, is very hard to handle.
I am 26 and have no family history of breast cancer. Statistically the likelihood of me getting cancer in my left breast was astronomical and that concreted my decision to remove both breasts. Many women jump through hoops to keep their breasts--to be honest I got less attached once I found out that mine were trying to kill me. I won't go into a rant of the extreme amount of pressure women have from society regarding their breasts--and much of the pressure that women place upon themselves regarding their breasts. I was there with the best of them--push up bras, chicken cutlets---you name it, I used it. I pushed them up, bronzed them, and walked with my chest out and a cute pair of heels. Those days aren't over--they are just on hiatus. I do know that I won't do it for anyone else ever again. Anything I do with my body from this point on is for me, and me only.
I chose to have expanders placed (empty bags) at the same time as my bilateral mastectomy. This is one less surgery I will have to have later on. Then after radiation they can be injected with small amounts of saline for a period of 6-8 months. This allows the skin and muscle to stretch slowly, then I will have surgery to remove the expanders and place implants. This was a decision I made for me--again an issue of control. I know that I don't need breasts......what I have won't really be breasts, at least in the traditional sense. They will have large scars across them, no real nipple (they will be created with pieces of my own skin), no sensation, I can't breastfeed, and they will be perky until I die. But they will be mine. A little "fuck you cancer" when this is all said and done. They will look fine in clothes, but naked is a different story....more to come on intimacy and nakedness when you are disconnected from your body, I am assuming chemo will throw a huge wrench into my self-awareness as well.
Now I have no breasts or nipples. I have bandages and drains which I have grown attached to in the last few days. I don't know what I should call my chest...but for now I have 4 drains that look like grenades strapped to my chest and that makes me feel pretty kick ass. Powerful...even explosive. Soon I won't have bandages or drains...........I will have scars and an obvious emptiness where my breasts once were. I am hoping by this point I will be able to cry without tremendous chest pain, currently tears aren't a viable option. They leave me having to take more pain medication.
Someday soon I will mourn the loss I experienced on Wednesday. I am aware that then I will need to rise to the battle to fight the remaining cancer in my body--chemo and radiation here I come. We are going to have a party to celebrate my upcoming battle before I have chemo and my time around others is limited--Scott's great idea! I am thinking a hat, wig, scarf party where people can bring items to add to my armor :)
I think that what gets me through the day at this point is knowing that I am not alone in this. Others are doing and experiencing this at the same time, a similar journey, too many women... they can do it, I can do it.