Last week I went to see my consultant for a discussion about what is happening with my boob. To give those of you the background to this post – I had breast cancer 14 years ago. I had a lumpectomy (some of the tissue removed but not all) and radiotherapy. Five years later I had the other breast reduced to try and match the two up (BIG mistake in my opinion, looking back, but I was guided by the surgeon obviously). This was still not successful due to the tissue on my right breast being taken from above the nipple, thus inducing a ‘dent’. Making the other smaller didn’t really make much difference.
I then had an implant put in, which failed to ‘drop’ into position and had to walk around with a most peculiar shaped breast, which I fondly referred to as my ‘third tit’ or ‘the tit on my shoulder’. It took me two years to get this rectified, and a complaint to my local trust who had led me to believe I would get some new treatment which wasn’t actually available to them. Eventually I was referred elsewhere to a proper plastic surgeon who promised he would be able to give me back a matching pair. This involved a big operation, taking tissue from the stomach and transplanting it into the breast, along with micro surgery to establish a whole new blood supply to this tissue. The bonus was that I got a tummy tuck so, it all sounded like the perfect solution. The dodgy implant was removed and I had that surgery. Still, the stubborn scar on that breast refused to allow anything to lift it. I now had an elipse shaped skin graft which had been taken from my tummy and didn’t match my breast skin tone, and completely scarred up and unmatching breasts. They said they could fix it. They inserted another implant. This helped a little but they still couldn’t fill the gap, as it were. More surgery, they said. This time, just a little fat injection from my thigh tissue into the breast, day surgery, so nothing major. I was put on the waiting list.
I’m still on that list, ten months later. I started reconstructive surgery in 2005.
So I went to see the consultant to see what he had to say, since I had been seen only by his team since the big surgery. He is one of the top ten in his field apparently, so I knew he’d be able to help.
What he told me was not what I wanted to hear. He said that there is nothing else they can do. Radiotherapy has altered the cells and each time I am operated on I run the risk of infection, more so than normal. He said that all the surgery I can have I have had. He said they can still do the minor op but it isn’t realistically going to make my right boob look like my left one.
And then he said something that hurt a lot. He told me I have become fixated on this boob and that I need to accept it for how it looks and get on with my life.
Tears pricked me as he said that. I felt like I was being told off. I felt like a time waster, a malingerer and someone who was just being vain.
Driving away from the hospital, his words sank in.
I HAVE become fixated. I AM obsessed with getting it to look right. And I AM running my life around surgery dates.
So I reframed what he had said. I thought about it. My breasts aren’t the same. They look different to each other. But so do a lot of other women’s who haven’t even had surgery. They are healthy. They are a nice handful. They look fine when I have clothes on. I have two. They are mine. I will love them. Both of them. I might love the left one a little bit more, a favourite, so to speak. But I will LIKE the right one and treat it with respect.
Earlier this year, I performed on stage on my own, dancing burlesque to a crowd of people, some I knew, a lot I didn’t. This was my challenge to myself, not to stand on stage, but to SHOW my breasts. I wanted to LIKE them but I thought I was still able to have more cosmetic surgery at that point.
However, it was very therapeutic to do this
Yes, I stripped to my tassels and I twirled.
Now, who needs a matching pair when you can do THAT?!!