It was a looooong October. It started off with pride and enthusiasm at the thought of how far I’ve come, but now I’m just exhausted – mentally and emotionally – because of what is still left to be dealt with and the women I keep meeting who are still in the thick of it. Carry on, warriors.
Thanks, Pinktober, but I am constantly aware already!
Since my treatments are over, the questions I get most nowadays are about reconstruction. I met with an amazing plastic surgeon at the beginning of the summer. I felt really comfortable with her and I’ve been thinking about it ever since, BUT I am leaning toward not doing it, and here’s why…
8 things that are better than boobs:
- Being honest. If I’m really honest with myself, I’ll admit that I’ve never been known for my boobs. I’d be shocked if anyone has ever thought about my breasts in an envious way even for a second. I had terrific boobs – in my humble opinion – when I was pregnant and nursing Dylan, but they were short lived. Oh, well. They served their purpose and I am grateful for that. 35 months of nursing and my babies are healthy!
- Gaining perspective. Realizing what is really important is a gift. I’m not trying to feel confident in a bikini anymore. I’m wearing a lap suit and – get this – I’m swimming laps! Feeling strong is more important to me than how I look. I need to constantly keep that in mind. I’m trying to take care of myself and my family, and Will and the girls love me just the way I am.
- Minimizing doctor visits and check-ups. In the last six weeks, I’ve had a mammogram and a check-up with my surgeon. I’ve also rescheduled my MRI three times due to insurance push-back and found out that my oncologist is leaving MSTI for the VA. That leaves me shopping around for a new doctor. So, when people say Yay! You’re done! I laugh.
- Reducing risks and worries. Even if nothing goes wrong, breast implants need to be changed out every 10-15 years. And there are plenty of things that can go wrong when you’re peeling muscle away from your rib cage and sticking a foreign object in there! Usually nothing life-threatening, but still maintenance and surgeries. CONSTANTLY. FOREVER.
- Maintaining good mental health. I know myself. Surgery = downtime = the potential for me going mental. Not good.
- Striving to be the best role model. We love to laugh in our house about the time last year when Taylor turned to the little boy next to her on the swings and said enthusiastically, “My mommy only has one nipple!” I’m sure the dad pushing his son heard her. I’m pretty sure EVERYONE at the playground heard her. She just said it with such pride, like it was the most normal thing in the world. And that’s the thing: I want it to be the most normal thing in the world. Just like I want Mommy changing bike tires and helping with Calculus homework to be the most normal thing in the world. Fuck super models and all of the unrealistic images that young girls and women are bombarded with. We’re celebrating self-acceptance in this house.
- Embracing uniqueness. I’m interracial (and most people can’t figure out what the races are). I have a fist-sized dent on the outside of my right thigh (a birthmark I was – duh – born with). I have three holes in my left earlobe and only two in my right (and a high school friend walking around with the odd hole that would have evened me out). I was mistaken for a boy for at least the first ten years of my life and now I’m being called sir from behind (and who am I kidding, sometimes to my face!). And now I only have one nipple. Let’s just say that when I die, my body won’t be hard to identify. I think I’m starting to prefer it that way.
- Feeling whole without them. It’s hard to not do what everyone else seems to be doing. It requires extra confidence, and that can be difficult to summon. When I told the plastic surgeon that I didn’t think I wanted to get a nipple tattoo, she quickly cut me off to stress the importance of putting “the finishing touches” on the implant. She told me that a lot of patients cried at seeing their finished breasts because they finally felt whole again. I didn’t bother explaining to her how I was thinking about getting a star tattoo instead of a nipple because – let’s face it – Baked Lays are not real potato chips, so let’s not pretend they are. I don’t begrudge the women who want to see a similar image in the mirror as what they’re used to, but I just don’t want to sweep this whole episode under the rug.
I’m sure I’ll revisit this a million times in the next few years. I am by no means 100% sold either way. And to the ladies with great reconstructed boobs, I salute you!
* A friend sent me this article published in The New York Times yesterday and it expresses a lot of what I’ve been thinking and feeling. They must have been reading my mind. Here’s to Going Flat!