The thing about breast cancer is this: the cancer originates in your breast.
This simple fact is one reason why breast cancer is such an easy disease to exploit. October could just as well be called, Breast Awareness Month.
Okay, that’s sarcasm, but in sarcasm there is always at least a grain of truth, right?
I could go on and on about pink shenanigans. I already have and probably will again. But let’s wait ’til October, shall we? Yikes! It’s almost here.
Anyway, my point is that society has always been a bit obsessed with breasts. And it’s not just men that do the ogling and the judging. Sometimes, women, even young girls, are pretty adept at comparing, judging and making crude, sometimes cruel assessments.
Yeah, that was a challenging time for many of us.
For example, as I wrote in my memoir, Cancer Is Not a Gift & It Didn’t Make Me a Better Person:
When I was in third or fourth grade, one of my classmates abruptly and unexpectedly hit puberty and suddenly, overnight it seemed to the rest of us, she had breasts. Immediately, she became someone of mystery and intrigue to those of us yet to blossom. With breasts, she was someone to be in awe of, and the rest of us tried to look inconspicuous with our stares and sideways glances.
It still pains me a bit to remember how poorly this particular classmate was treated, not just by boys, but by some girls too. The teasing and sometimes mean remarks didn’t all originate from the males.
We later-bloomers were in a sort of waiting game.
Even at such tender, young ages we were all well aware of the almost mystical power of breasts. The girls eagerly waited for, but also dreaded the inevitable transformation of our bodies, and the boys, well, they just acted like boys and waited for their own transformations as well.
Fast forward many decades…
After my cancer diagnosis, Dear Hubby and I became a bit breast obsessed. When you realize your breasts will soon be amputated (yeah, a mastectomy should be called an amputation) and rebuilt into some unknown formations, how can you not be, I suppose.
Sometimes, we even made jokes about breasts and played guessing games as we observed other female forms passing through our lines of vision. (Of course, we only did this discreetly and shared privately.) Weird, maybe. In hindsight, I realize it was a coping mechanism.
Sometimes you have to find humor in difficult situations to preserve sanity. Or at least we had to.
Now, nine years down the road from all that, I find myself feeling breast obsessed all over again.
You know, because of that rupture thing. Ugh…
(If you missed it and want to, read: What If Your Breast Implant Ruptures?)
Being forced to deal with this particular part of my cancer mess again, has made me irritable. I admit it. It has.
It’s also made me sad, angry, confused, scared, indecisiveness and a bunch of other things, I’m sure.
I hate everything about this disease!
Believe me, I fully realize fretting about breasts is NOT the important part of advocacy. It’s not.
Saving lives is what matters most, not saving breasts.
Still, it’s important to acknowledge that this loss of the very body parts that represent the essence of femininity is a huge deal.
No, breasts do not define us, but they are (or were) sure part of our definition. Literally.
Dear Hubby and I are presently watching The Sopranos on Prime (or maybe it’s on Netflix, I forget). Great show, by the way. Very well done. If you haven’t seen it, I highly recommend it. (We are only twenty years late, but who’s counting?)
But there are certain scenes that come on fairly frequently that always remind me of what I no longer have – breasts. My breasts. Of course, this happens while watching plenty of other TV shows and movies as well.
And it’s still hard. Every time. Even now.
Breast envy is real.
Nipple envy is too.
Recently, Dear Hubby and I sat in airports while traveling back and forth to visit Son #1 and his wife, and while killing time, do you know what I sat there thinking about quite a lot while people watching?
Yep. You guessed it. I was thinking about breasts.
I don’t know if Dear Hubby was, too. I didn’t ask. I didn’t tell either.
I sat there observing women of various sizes, ages, ethnic backgrounds and so on, and I found myself zeroing in on their chests and thinking, gee, you all are lucky you are still walking around with your own, original breasts.
Or not. I don’t know.
(Do any of you do this?)
I share about all this because I think it’s part of my processing. Again. And someone else might be going through something similar.
As I contemplate what to do about this blankety-blank rupture situation, I’ve discovered (again) that the emotions tangled up in my cancer mess are still there and still quite close to the surface.
Even after nine years, they still bubble up fairly often.
This is one reason why the shitstorm of a breast cancer diagnosis is NEVER over.
I don’t say this to garner sympathy or pity or anything at all.
I say it because it just is. And because perhaps others feel the same. Perhaps YOU do.
So yes, I’m a bit breast obsessed. Again.
I’m not happy with myself about this.
But nonetheless, this is where I’m at.
Breast obsessed. Again.
Do you relate?
If you’ve had a mastectomy, with or without reconstruction, how do feel during ‘those moments’ in TV shows and movies?
If you’re a partner of a woman impacted by breast cancer surgeries and such, how do you feel about all this? (Yes, I’d really like to know.)
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