When I first got my prothesis during the holiday season, I came home and showed off my new silhouette to my family. I was so proud to have a figure again. What I didn’t realize was how pleased my children were for me. Just as my extended family all started piling into my house to share the holiday meal, my 12-year-old son points to my chest with a huge proud smile on his face and says, “Hey, look what Mom got!!”
For a moment, with my family members still bundled in their coats and perched on threshold of my home, there was nothing but silence. Then they all looked at me, and we all started cracking up.
At first my son was a bit worried he’d done something wrong. He sheepishly said he thought it was OK to tell family, and I assured him that it was fine but hoped he would refrain from telling the mailman and bus driver … what a sweet boy I have!! I’m so lucky to have such a nice family. So caring. So supportive.
As I learn more about breast cancer, I realize how many differences there can be from person to person, from case to case. In my case, everything is so difficult. Being Stage 4 is not very convenient.
I speak with other women who have had or are living with breast cancer, and everyone’s story is different. For me, I had a double mastectomy about a year ago, and I’m still so far from getting reconstruction. And when I do begin reconstruction, I’m told it will take three or four surgeries. It seems to me everyone I speak to has been either able to have reconstruction at the same time as the mastectomy or within 3 months’ time. I’m a year and counting.
Something is always going wrong. Now granted, I do have Stage 4, so things are a bit trickier. But I didn’t really understand, I guess. Most people I know think it’s crazy that I want to get reconstruction given all I’ve been through and maybe what’s ahead of me, but, right now, I’m determined. Not necessarily for vanity, but for various reasons.
One, I am determined to survive this disease even given my odds. Why should I assume otherwise?
Two, wearing a prosthesis has a major downside. It may look nice under my sweater, but my chest gets all bruised and irritated. When I move one way, it moves another. (I have an expander on my right side, so I wear a prosthesis only on my left.) I want to be able to feel like my breasts are connected to my body … a part of me. Even though I know they won’t be the same in any way they once were.
And three, my family will be happy if I do this. Let me be clear: I have a great husband and two wonderful kids who love me no matter what and put no pressure on me to get breasts. But I think that, collectively, we will all feel better if I do. I’m not sure if it’s a little bit of, well, … trying to forget I’m sick. My current deformed body is a constant reminder of my illness. It would be nice to look prettier and maybe be able to forget once in awhile. Is that so bad?? Is it so bad that my family wants that too??