When you are first diagnosed with breast cancer you experience a range of emotions, some rational and some not. Of course, fear is the first. Will this kill me? Will I have to have chemotherapy and lose my hair? What if I have an ugly scalp? How long will I have to be off work? How will we afford this? How will I look without my natural breasts that have been with me since puberty? Will my spouse still find me attractive? So, all of that ran through my head in the first minute of receiving the news.
I was on a business trip out of state when I got the call about the results of the biopsy I had 5 days before. Actually, I was standing in the airport right after I landed. I stepped away from my co-workers as they waited for their luggage at baggage claim to take the call. The nurse started the call with, "I'm sorry" as I held in the tears. I spent the next hour holding it all in until I was checked in at the hotel and could call my husband. It seemed like an eternity. My husband is amazing. He offered words of encouragement and reassurance that we would get through it. His mom passed away from breast cancer after a 13 year battle almost 2 years after our wedding. We had an agreement that if I was ever diagnosed that I would get a mastectomy instead of the piecemeal treatment his mother endured, starting with lumpectomies then eventually mastectomies. That is an easy decision to make in the hypothetical. It isn't as easy in reality.
The week after I returned from my business trip, I had my first appointment with a surgeon. His recommendation was a lumpectomy. My husband asked if I could have an MRI to check for additional cancer. The surgeon felt that was a good idea, so I had an MRI and eventually an additional biopsy with MRI. More cancer showed up in the MRI and my treatment recommendation changed to bi-lateral mastectomy. The hypothetical choice became reality, but no longer really a choice.
Early on in my breast cancer journey I decided to focus on all the positives. Partly, because I am wired to find the silver lining. It was also better than the alternative of turning into a puddle. That happened too at times, but usually when I was alone with my thoughts and fears.
Here is the list of positives about barbie boobs that I came up with.
Bras are optional. Initially after reconstruction, bras are a must. They help protect and shape. The nurses will even put you in one before you wake up from surgery. Once you are fully healed, they are optional, it all depends on my mood and what I am wearing. I never have to wear an uncomfortable strapless bra or underwire again!
No more mammograms! Since I had a bi-lateral mastectomy (both), I never have to have them squished again. I do however get felt up at least every six months at doctor appointments.
Getting nippily in cold air conditioning is no longer an issue.
30 Year old boobs forever. At least that's what my plastic surgeon told me. I no longer have to worry about the effects of gravity and age. I won't be one of those elderly ladies whose breasts merge with their waist line.
Lingerie actually looks good. I always felt that lingerie didn't really look that great because the tops we're filled unless you wore a bra under them. That is no longer a problem.
They don't hurt when you run. I never enjoyed running after age 10. I did it when required in physical education classes or sports, but it always made my chest hurt no matter what sports bra I used. Now that they are fully healed, they don't hurt. I have started jogging part of my daily walk and actually enjoy it.
They don't disappear when you lose weight. It always seems that you lose weight first in the areas you don't want to lose it. After reconstruction, you won't lose weight in your boobs. So, choose wisely when you pick out your size before surgery.
I'm sure there are plenty of other benefits of reconstructed breasts. This is just the initial list I came up with. Feel free to add yours in the comments below.