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?!!

Performance legs at the ready!!!

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Tonight at our burlesque class we had someone videoing us to promote the classes.  Everyone made a big effort to dress up and I thought we all looked fabulous!  It was also a lot of fun, as usual, with long black gloves being flung around and general silliness, amongst the serious business of learning the dance.  Pretty much how it is every week!

It is getting pretty exciting at class too – in just under six weeks we will be performing in our first ever ‘student showcase’ night.  I love the classes so much I now attend two a week – so I’m learning two routines!  Some of the ladies have also been on a residential weekend and they have another dance to perform and we have the strip club performing as well!  Now, when I say ‘strip club’ please don’t jump to conclusions.  I don’t go to these classes but they are all about feeling good about yourself, not getting your kit off (although that is obviously involved!).  I asked some of the ladies to explain to me just what it is that goes on in these classes:

First of all, it’s about the tease.  Apparently the clothes stay on for most of the time – the emphasis is on ‘hinting’ that they might come off.  However, much more than this, it is about becoming confident in your own skin.  One woman told me it is about facing your demons.  The women explore the thoughts and feelings that hold them back and it is a journey of self discovery as much as anything.

Like I said, I don’t attend these classes but I can see how amazing they must be for the women who do.

So, anyway, we have our cabaret coming up…..imagine dancing on stage in your frillies??  No, neither could I before I joined the classes!!!  I am not, and never have been a dancer.  But, I’ll be up there, strutting my stuff, with a whole bunch of other women who probably feel exactly the same.   And, we will be amazing because we have found our inner divas!

It just goes to prove how bloody wonderful Burlesque is……



(that’s not ME in the gloves, I hasten to add!!!!)

Why you should learn how to shimmy….continued!

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Last night I went to the flat of one of the ladies who goes to the same class as me. As there was no class this week a few of us decided to get together for a practise. Along with myself, there was my daughter and one other lady. Age range, 29-50+.

Our practise session went well, it helps to go over some of the more difficult moves with others and we all felt quite pleased with ourselves.

In between practising, we chatted.

We all agreed that we have to be ‘selective’ with whom we share our burlesque. All of us know people who are a little bit ‘surprised’ that we do this dancing. Why is this?

Burlesque is associated with something rather seedy, it seems. Nice girls don’t do burlesque! However, our classes are full of lovely ladies! They are certainly not seedy or hookers!

Burlesque in its true form is art.  Yes, the dances can be seductive and a bit naughty but there is nothing distasteful about Burlesque.  It is glamorous and it is sexy.  It isn’t degrading or shameful.

Our classes are fun, they are uplifting and they help women to feel good about themselves, in all sorts of ways. Many of the women who join the class have had terrible experiences and have low self-esteem or lack self-confidence. Burlesque empowers these women by helping them to make positive life changes through their new-found confidence. I, for one, have seen women blossom as the classes have progressed.

How is this seedy? Or something to hide?

Those people who find it distasteful either don’t know what burlesque is or they have very narrow views.

I, for one, am proud to be part of it and I know my class mates are too. We aren’t call girls, or strippers and we aren’t degrading women.

We are a group of women who love to dance.

In frillies.

Got a problem with that?

Why you should learn how to shimmy…….


At the beginning of this year, I started burlesque dance classes.  I wanted some form of exercise that didn’t involve a treadmill or hours of torture on the cross trainer.  I happened, by chance, to see a new class being advertised locally – burlesque!  I was intrigued!  I already loved the whole burlesque thing and owned a couple of corsets but I had never thought of dancing.  I’m not a dancer, I never have been…but I signed up for the taster session anyway.  

It was fun!!!  And although I was under no illusions that I looked like a professional dancer, I still thoroughly enjoyed it.

Over the year, I’ve continued the classes, only having to miss one course because of my surgery.  I hated not being there, I missed my weekly ‘fix’.

Just recently, I took a big step and attended a tassel twirling workshop.  Yes, I got my breasties out!  With tassels, obviously!  After a two-hour intensive workshop, I am proud to say I can twirl ’em to the right, twirl ’em to the left AND twirl ’em in different directions at the same time!!! Amazing!!!  Even more amazing for me as my surgery was breast surgery, the final operation after years and years of surgery.  My boobs are, quite frankly, a MESS!!  I felt quite apprehensive about ‘getting them out’ even if it was just with a bunch of women…but I needn’t have worried.  The class was fun, relaxed and exhilarating all at the same time.

That weekend, I truly understood burlesque, I think.

I’ve now signed up to do a second class every week and in October I’m going to be performing in our first ever CABARET!!!!!!

My fellow ladies are all such lovely women and our tutor, Jem, is more than just our tutor….she’s the ‘leader’ of the wonderful burlesque community that she has created.

I still look ridiculous when I dance.  My various problems mean I just can’t do some of the moves like others can.  But, when I dance, in my head….I’m gorgeous.

And THAT’S what it’s all about.