#breastreconstruction is not an opportunity for a free boob job!

Ten Reasons Why Breast Reconstruction Is Not a Boob Job!

There are certain topics in Cancer Land that come up time and time again. One of these topics is what you should say or not say to a cancer patient.

Generally, I try not to critique too harshly what people say or do not say because most people mean well. Generally, I try to refrain from suggesting what people should or should not say; well, most of the time anyway. But there is one thing I am pretty darn certain you should not say to a woman facing a mastectomy of any kind, including a prophylactic one.

Do not say, “Gee, at least you get to have a free boob job!” or the other equally distasteful yet often heard question, “You’re going bigger, right?”

Both of these comments are annoying, crass, insensitive, potentially hurtful and simply out of line.

I imagine there are a handful of women out there who do feel ‘lucky’ they had this ‘opportunity’ to get ‘better boobs’. I’m sure there are some who do like their new ones better than their originals.

But trust me, these are not things you want to say to a breast cancer patient, or to a patient trying to avoid breast cancer. Do not say them. Please, just do not!

I realize I am preaching to the choir here, but maybe the message will miraculously trickle out somehow if enough of us keep saying it.

When you need a comeback response, sometimes a list is helpful to pull out of your pocket or your brain, so…

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Ten reasons not to call breast reconstruction a boob job (of course there are more reasons, but I’ll just go with ten for now).

1.  First of all, some breast cancer patients will not be having mastectomies for various reasons (such as stage or tumor size).

In addition, some who will be having a mastectomy are opting out of reconstruction for various and personal reasons. There will be no boob job of any sort. Enough said.

2.  Breast reconstruction is not a boob job.

They are very different procedures. I wrote a post on the differences here.

3.  A boob job goes relatively fast – it’s usually an outpatient procedure.

Breast reconstruction surgery of any type takes hours and often requires multiple surgeries and therefore multiple recoveries. And of course, multiple procedures also create multiple opportunities for complications to occur.

4.  Many women who opt for reconstruction do not reconstruct their nipples, again for various and personal reasons.

Not quite as pretty a picture now is it? And reconstructed nipples have no feeling in them; they are mostly for appearances sake only.

5.  Speaking as an implant recipient, I’ll just say the darn things are heavy and at times quite uncomfortable.

They feel nothing like my originals. They just don’t. I’ll write a more detailed post about this at some point.

5.  When you have a boob job, it’s an enhancement choice, not a salvage job. Big difference.

6.  With breast reconstruction your partner’s sexual pleasure is always often times impacted negatively for obvious reasons, as is your own, for too many reasons to go into here.

Some relationships can handle the changes. Some cannot.

7.  After reconstruction, sometimes it hurts when you are hugged, squeezed or even touched in certain ways.

And yet at the same time, the sensation or feeling in your breasts is gone or greatly reduced, usually for good. Go figure.

9.  I don’t know for sure, but I imagine most women who’ve had boob jobs rather enjoy looking at their new enhanced forms when they shower, get dressed, don that sexy bra or whenever.

On the other hand, some of us who’ve had reconstruction avoid mirrors, struggle to even wear a bra comfortably again and work daily at reclaiming a positive body image. The physical scars are many. The scars fade, of course, but disappear they do not. The emotional scars, the scars we cannot see, can be even tougher to deal with.

10. Oh, and let’s not forget there is that whole cancer thing to contend with.

Breast reconstruction is only the cosmetic component of the cancer treatment plan. Besides the slash, there is also often the burn (radiation) and poison (chemo) to contend with as well. And even for women choosing the prophylactic route, cancer is still the silent lurker in the background.

So no, breast reconstruction, prophylactic or otherwise, is not a woman’s chance to at least get a ‘free’ boob job out of the deal.

Don’t say that. Just don’t. Think of something better to say, or else perhaps it’s best to just keep quiet.

Breast reconstruction is not a boob job, not even close.

Has anyone ever said to you, “At least you get to have a ‘free’ boob job?” or “You’re going bigger, right?”

If you did not choose reconstruction, has anyone ever questioned your decision to opt out?

Do you have a good comeback response to add to this list?

10 reasons why #breastreconstruction is NOT a boob job! #breastcancer #womenshealth

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54 thoughts to “Ten Reasons Why Breast Reconstruction Is Not a Boob Job!”

  1. No recon here after bilateral mx. And yes I got asked why I didn’t chose to get “perfect breasts”.

    1. I like being flat – it can be very freeing at times (once that terrible strap/plank of pressure subsides – I can’t imagine how uncomfortable that would be with implants)

    2. I love my prostheses – I have a small and a big set (yes bigger than my pathetic pancake boobs were before). They stay perky lying down. Don’t hurt in any way. Actually relieve the band of pressure. I miss real boobs in bathing suits.

    I work in homecare and consulted with my GP. I have seen and heard of too many bad “jobs” in breast cancer survivors – mostly related to infections. I’ve heard horror stories about “boob jobs” that burst, leaked, got people very ill because they weren’t told to get new ones every 7-10 years.

    1. Patricia, I imagine it gets pretty annoying when you are asked to explain your opting out decision. Many people just don’t realize the complexity of the situation and sometimes opting out makes perfect sense. I’m glad you are satisfied with your decisions. And yes, all those horror stories are troubling to hear I’m sure. Thanks for reading and for sharing. It’s so important to hear from all angles on this.

  2. That’s an interesting stain glass.

    Yes, I’ve had people say at least you get a boob job. And there couldn’t be anything farther from the truth. Five surgeries later and I still struggle with my arm and back muscles always being sore. My surgeon apparently did a very nice job as compared to others, at least that’s what women have said, however, they’re scarred, not symmetrical, and look odd at best.

    1. Diane, I changed the image to a different one after reading your comment! I think perhaps this one is a better fit for this post. Both of them are from photos I took at my hospital’s breast center. They have several stain-glassed pieces of art hanging in the windows there. I’m sorry you still struggle with some arm and back issues. I do too. I have a few other issues as well, but… Glad you are mostly satisfied with your choices. Thanks for sharing.

  3. When I was first diagnosed my first thought (along with friends) was yay bigger better boobs. I just had my nipple reconstruction done 2 weeks ago. In the end, I did not get bigger boobs due to the pain and would give anything to have my old ones back or maybe not have had the reconstruction done in the first place. They look great but I cringe now when someone brings up good boob job. They say now it’s all over, time to move on. But for us that go through it, it will never be ALL over and done.

    1. Melissa, I know what you mean… I feel the same way and no, it’s never all over. How could it be when the reminders are there every day? Thank you for reading and commenting.

  4. I have had someone that has had a mastectomy say to me, “Think how much weight you’d lose!” (if I ever had a mastectomy). I have large breasts so I guess this was how this person was seeing a mastectomy in a good light?? It did not upset me. We are imperfect people with and without cancer ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. Brenda, Gosh, that comment was really ‘out there’. It’s nice you weren’t upset, but it had to sting a little. You’re right, of course, we are all imperfect but at the same time, we could probably all stand to think a bit more before commenting on delicate issues. Thanks for sharing.

  5. I hardly know what to say here because I did not have reconstruction and part of me wishes I had, truthfully. But I had to think of my past surgeries and realize all the complications I have had, and that is the reason I opted not to have it done. But there are some regrets too, and I will try to explain how my thought process works. I had a right radical mastectomy. I am hardly balanced and constantly reminded of my imperfections. After a few years of looking for a prosthetic device that fit and was comfortable. I did find one, and when I am dressed, no one even believes I have had a mastectomy. It really looks good, but there is always the reality in my mind that I am deformed. My partner of 15 years is a constant reminder that I am not complete in his eyes. He pushed me for a long time to have the surgery done, even told me it would be an outpatient procedure, uncomplicated, and relatively pain free. How does he know that? I finally asked him how he would feel if he had to have his testicles removed. That, for some reason, stopped the daily prodding for me to go through with reconstruction. By no means does he accept me the way I am today, and that hurts me most. I will always be inadequate in his eyes, no feeling that he is just glad I am alive. He never tells me I am pretty anymore, and I am always selfconscious about my appearance. I have always dressed well, all my life, and took pride in my appearance. I just cant say that today.

    I must question if my feelings of satisfaction that I did not have reconstruction. Do I feel inadequate because of his treatment, or because I was not educated by the medical community before or after surgery. I have a lot to work through, but there is one thing I know I did right when I made my decision. I made it based on my own feelings, and I did not worry that I may not wake up after the procedure. I have lived through three comas after surgery and that is no small complication. I am alive today, which I strongly felt I was jeopardizing if I made a cosmetic decision. I am satisfied with that — for today.

    1. Fran, You are not inadequate because you no longer have both breasts. Feeling that way or being told by your spouse that you are must be so painful. I’m sorry about all that. You were right to make decisions that you felt were best for you. That’s all any of us can do. I’m glad you’re are satisfied, but I do sense your emotional pain coming through too. It’s important to share your feelings, so thank you for doing that here with us. My best to you.

  6. Life after cancer is hard but I realize people really don’t know what to say to you so for the most part it comes out wrong. The most painful thing for me to hear was when I expressed my concerns about how bad my new breast looked w/my plastic surgeon he told me I should be happy I survived cancer what more did I want?
    My come back was a new PS! Which I have not found I am 3 yrs out and I’ve had 7 surgeries. No doctor in my area will touch me.
    I miss who I was before cancer. ๐Ÿ™

    1. Abby, Your plastic surgeon’s comment was patronizing. I bet he had no idea how hurtful his comment was. I’ve been told similar things by two doctors. Good for you for finding a new PS, or trying to. And I miss who I was before cancer too. This does not mean we are ungrateful and it’s okay to say it. Thank you for reading and sharing.

  7. Thank you so much for this post. I did get this response from some (well-meaning) people – for example “ooh, so you can choose what size you want to be!” I made it very clear to people I spoke to that having implants after a mastectomy wasn’t the same as having implants for cosmetic reasons – I explained about the massive scar, about nipple removal, about having to put the implant under muscle instead of under tissue, about possibly using tissue from the tummy or back, etc etc … after a few minutes of this they soon shut up about boob jobs.

    1. Rethink Street, Good for you for having some comeback answers ready to go. Sometimes I couldn’t (and still can’t) think of things to say off the top of my head. That’s one reason I put together this list. When people begin to realize the complexity of breast reconstruction, they start to see things in a different light. Thanks for reading and for sharing.

  8. Reading this post and the comments make me realize how lucky I’ve been: no one said or asked me about it (at least in real life, online comments when I wrote my non-recon choices have “mostly” been positive as well).
    But what strikes me here is that this issue just seems to be another part of the larger “breast cancer is the good cancer that can simply be beaten with a positive, kick cancer’s ass attitude). And it reminds me why it is so crucial for cancer bloggers to write the stories of what REALLY happens during breast cancer. Then single, happy story that is so prevalent in the media has taken the spotlight for far too long. It is time for everyone to take a dose of reality.

    1. CC, I think you’re right that too often there is this idea out there that none of this is that bad and after all, you might even be ‘lucky enough’ to get a free boob job out of the deal too. Thanks for making such an important point.

  9. I was encouraged to get a mastectomy but the doctors could not tell me that it would make any difference in my long term survival. I chose to stick with the lumpectomy however some of the comments from some doctors and friends were hurtful. such as why wouldn’t I want to get a mastectomy I could get “free” large breasts. ( I am small just barely a B) I am also thin and the only option would have been an implant. Getting cancer is hard enough to deal with. I don’t think people realize what a personal and difficult decision it is to make. Down the road I may be faced with making that choice if I have a recurrence.

    1. Linda, It’s too bad you had to hear some hurtful comments, especially the ones about getting “free” large breasts. That’s really out-of-line. I’m glad you made the decisions that felt right to you. Good for you. And you’re right, it’s hard and it’s personal. Thanks for reading and sharing.

  10. When I had my bilateral mastectomies a person I thought was a close friend said “well at least your getting a free boob job and a tummy tuck!” This was after 9 hours of grueling surgery, lots of necrosis and the dreaded diagnosis of cancer. When she said those words I knew on an instant she didn’t understand, even a little bit, and she couldn’t possibly really care about me to say something so hurtful. I didn’t say much to her cause I was so disappointed. Oh and by the way, she was a hospice nurse. Some people just don’t know when to keep their mouths shut! Lesson learned.

    1. Sue, I’m sorry your friend made comments that you found hurtful. I don’t think her words meant she didn’t care, but certainly she didn’t understand. Perhaps at some point you could explain to her how you feel/felt. Or not. Up to you of course. Thanks for sharing and I hope you’re doing well.

  11. I had a mastectomy at the age of 30 so yes I did get reconstructive surgery, my only choice was implants because I was thin. I have had a lot of people say to me well you got new boobs out of the deal and I would kind of laugh but really no I didn’t get new boobs….you don’t feel the same again as a women, the implant is behind you muscle it doesn’t feel natural, you have a big scar for life and no nipple!! As a women I don’t feel complete, I am happy I was able to get implants as I didn’t want to have nothing being so young but it is definitely not a boob job…reconstructive is so different and we go threw so much more, expander, have it filled every week then the implants and we have drains with it and never feels the same, no feeling!!!!! So it’s not fun, it ps a hard long road!!!!

  12. Nancy,

    I certainly heard the “boob job and tummy tuck” comment by envious people. Yes, they had a lot to envy: I was trying to minimize the chances of a recurrence.

    As you know, I write a lot about body-image issues. My plastic surgeon said I would go down in breast size, but I didn’t care; I just wanted to live.

    I’m satisfied with the work he did, but I still am reminded of breast cancer every day when I see myself without clothes. The huge scar across the abdomen, which looks nothing like a tummy tuck, and my breasts that are partially numb. I feel so damaged by cancer.

    Unlike people who might get a boob job for vanity’s sake, I didn’t want this to happen to me. Choosing between living and amputating my breasts is not really a fun choice.

    Lastly, and I’m posting on this early this week, I want to address lumpectomy. The most disfiguring time of my cancer life was having a total of three lumpectomies in the affected breast. I was not large-chested to begin with, and I saw chunk after chunk of my breast coming out, mastectomy seemed like a reasonable option, too.

    But I agree with your excellent post: reconstruction is NO boob job. Never. It’s reconstruction, with lots of suffering involved.

    I miss my former breasts. I enjoyed what I was born with. Now my torso is what a plastic surgeon has designed for me. I don’t like my new tattooed nipples. Wrong everything.

    I don’t like my body, although I’m coming to accept it. I had a DIEP flap construction because I wanted to wake up from surgery with breasts. My emotional state was such that I had been through so much torture, that I had to have breasts when I gained consciousness.

    Thank you for this awesome post on a very, very important topic.

    1. Beth, Yes, breast reconstruction is so far from a boob job… I miss my former breasts too, though I also accept where I’m at. I have to. Body image is something we all work on, cancer or no cancer. But breast cancer can really do a number on how we see ourselves. Adapting to and accepting our new selves takes work and self-compassion too. I look forward to that post. Thanks for sharing your insights.

  13. A boob job? Really!?! I needed a mastectomy, but opted for a BMX, in part because I was a 38D. I don’t for a moment regret my decision to go with a BMX, but I don’t know that I would go with reconstruction, if I had to do it again. Tissue expanders are the devil! While I know my reconstruction could have gone worse, but I still have what I refer to as “sponge bob square boobs” with lovely dog ears. Living with my reconstruction, is a much easier choice, than to go under the knife and have them fixed. Anyone who thinks what I had was a Boob Job, needs to have their head examined!

    1. Keiilregi, Tissue expanders can be pretty bad, that’s for sure. I had to laugh (sorry) when I read your description of your reconstructed breasts. Mine are so-so too. They are okay at best, but like you, I don’t want to face more surgery. Calling reconstruction a boob job is far, far from reality. Thank you for reading and sharing some thoughts.

  14. Yes I am a survivor. I have had a mastectomy and reconstruction. My only option was a free flap procedure. So I took it. I have tried to face my mortality with humor and a lot of faith. That being said, as I have had people make that comment I would say back to them..Why yes I had a free boob job..after everyting I had been through I deserved it. But anyone who would voluntarily get a tummy tuck is crazy!” I am up front with them about how it still is uncomfortable after 4 years. Would I do it again yes; but, that is and was my choice, not someone else’s

    1. Denise, I’m glad you are upfront with people and yes, humor is sometimes what a person must resort to, but calling reconstruction a boob job is just not funny to me and it’s not an acceptable ‘escape phrase’, for me anyway. Thanks for reading and adding to this discussion.

    2. Nancy like you I got tired of hearing the comment. So I handled it
      The best way I could. I didn’t mean to sound like I was like others calling it a “boob job”. If they could have experienced the ICU I did with the big blown up heating jacket, the room set at 80 degrees, the three times I had to be put out once for the Part of my stomach wound that split open which had to be packed for over two mweeks. Having to change what kind of bra I wear because of scare tissue.
      But really people don’t want to know all that. They like to stay ignorant to what really happens during all the part of any kind of cancer. They don’t understand how it feels to be burned from the inside out from radiation, poisoned by the chemo.
      So like I had said before I have learned to treat them with humor because making comments like that just shows how ignorant they are about it and they just really don’t want to know how it was. None of my friends ever said anything like that to me.

      1. Denise, Oh gosh, I didn’t take your comment that way at all – that you like calling it a boob job. I guess I didn’t word my response to your comment very well. lol! And I think you’re right that people don’t really want to know all the details, not most people anyway, nor would I really expect them to I guess. I’m glad you use humor as a way to handle the off comments. Sometimes a little humor mixed with sarcasm goes a long way. Thanks for commenting again.

  15. Seven reconstructive surgeries and still no nipple! My implant became infected, my tissues surrounding it became necrotic from radiation. When I had emergency surgery to remove the implant , it was like experiencing the shock of bc/ mastectomy all over again. Spent months with a concave left breast. Reconstruction, tram flap a 12 hour surgery and months of recovery. Nipple clinical trial with swine tissue failed. The result of so many surgeries was lymph edema … Two hospitalizations for cellulitis in 2013. Result of hospital stay: hospital borne infection C-diff. lasted 6 months. Exhausted. I had to retire from my passion : teaching . All because of a boob. Yeah.. Not a
    boob job. A surgical/infection/life altering attempt to appear normal after bc.. Mostly because other people can’t handle the fact that we are never free of bc, even if we look normal when we clothe our breasts, implants, breast made of adipose tissue or prosthesis.

    1. Kathy, Gosh, you have been dealing with so much. I’m sorry about all the complications and now the lymphedema on top of things. And I’m sorry you had to retire from teaching before you wanted to. Your last two sentences give me much to think about. Thank you for sharing about your reality. So important for others to hear about it.

  16. Yes, Yes and Yes! Thank you for putting it all down so well, in one post. Four years after my final surgery and I still can’t really put all of my dismay about this procedure in writing. It’s not for the faint hearted and it’s not anything anyone would ever decide to do, it’s NOTHING like a boob job. Enough said.

  17. I had bilateral for prophylactic reasons. I had had five surgical biopsies, the last of which was atypical hyperplasia (a pre-cancerous condition). My family history is quite high as well. After my initial surgery, I had three bouts of encapsulation and required three additional surgeries, four if you count an emergency surgery after the first surgery for encapsulation in which I had an internal bleed and lost a pint of blood. This has been no joy ride for me. My reconstructed breasts do not look natural and there is no feeling in them other than pain when I try to lay on my stomach. For those who make uninformed comments, I would invite them to walk a mile in my shoes.
    The kicker is that I thought I would escape cancer by doing all this only to wind up with lung cancer instead. I don’t smoke. Lung cancer kills far more people than all the other cancers combined, but it doesn’t get the press. It’s survival rate is not good, and it’s not as “sexy” as breast cancer. People don’t like to talk about a cancer that is largely incurable. Many people reach stage four before ever being diagnosed, as is it is a sneaky kind of cancer. No cancer should be taken lightly and to make comments such as the ones you mention, are probably made out of one’s discomfort on the subject. At the very least, one would hope so.

    1. Helen, I’m sorry you’ve had to deal with so much and now lung cancer, which as you mentioned, doesn’t get the press. Your point about it not being the sexy cancer is well taken. And the stigma for those dealing with lung cancer is outrageous and unfair. You’re probably right about why people sometimes make poorly thought-out comments. Cancer’s an uncomfortable topic for sure and figuring out what to say or not to say isn’t easy, but calling reconstruction a boob job is outlandish. Thanks for reading and for sharing your insights. My best to you.

  18. This is an excellent list, Nancy. As your post makes clear, there are so many misperceptions behind these kind of insensitive comments. I had reconstruction with an expander/saline implant. This required multiple surgical procedures as well as doctor’s office visits where saline was injected into the expander gradually over months. A lengthy procedure and, at the end of the day, still a salvage job as you point out, definitely not an enhancement.

    1. Lisa, I know people mean well when they say such things, but calling breast reconstruction a chance to get a free boob job is so far off the mark; I’m not going to be quiet anymore if and when I hear such things. Thanks for reading and sharing some thoughts.

  19. Nancy, Thank you for the right on target list. I went the other direction and chose bilateral with no reconstruction. I was fortunate to have full support of my closest friends, family, and medical team. When I hear the Free and Better Boobs bit, I figure they opened their mouth and I use it as an opportunity to give them a real unsanitized education into what reconstruction entails, what it can do and what it cannot. Most are stunned into near speechlessness and I think will choose their words more carefully if someone in their world is ever faced with these difficult decisions.
    I chose no reconstruction and live openly Flat & Fabulous. I decided to own it and to date no one has fainted or died. ๐Ÿ™‚ Flat And Fabulous has a large closed group on Facebook and recently launched its own website at: FlatAndFabulous.org (FlatNFabulous is unrelated and is strictly my own)

    1. Flat N Fabulous, Good for you for taking any opportunity you can to offer some genuine education about what reconstruction is and is not. I’m glad you are fully satisfied with your decision to opt out of reconstruction. Thank you for reading and commenting too.

  20. I really, really appreciate your post about this. I don’t know how we’ve come to this place as a society where people think reconstruction is the silver lining, like it’s some fun bonus that makes having breast cancer worth it.

    I come from a simple people, many of whom have little filter. I have not been back ‘home’ since my bilateral mastectomy last October and have only recently even begun telling those people I had cancer. I am a small person who used to have very large breasts. I opted not to have reconstruction and choose to live flat. There is certainly a noticeable change in my appearance, so I am preparing myself for the questions about why I am so flat and the inevitable ‘boob job’ comments from extended family. I want to explain in simple terms everyone back home can understand while still conveying the feelings behind it. My current plan is to say, “A boob job is like remodeling your house by putting in new bathroom fixtures. Breast cancer and mastectomies and breast reconstruction surgery is like remodeling your house by f’in blowing it up with a bomb and then trying to cobble together a new house w/ the pieces that are left. Breast reconstruction is not a boob job.” It’s SO not a boob job.

    1. Midge, I certainly agree with you. I am pleased that you appreciate my post. Thank you for reading it and for sharing your thoughts. Feel free to send some people my way to read it if doing so might help enlighten some.

  21. Thank you so much Nancy for helping to organize all the disjointed thoughts and feelings that have been swirling around in my head about this. I had a mastectomy on the left side in 2007 and went through the first few steps of reconstruction – tissue expander and the subsequent filling of it. After chemo and radiation though, I never went through with the next step of getting the implant. My breasts were obviously asymmetrical for the last 9 years, but after having surgery, chemo and radiation, then a hysterectomy, I couldn’t face another medical procedure.
    My expander ruptured in December and now I have opted for the DIEP reconstruction surgery, but not without a lot of anxiety and trepidation. I find myself reluctant to talk to friends or family about this choice, since clearly some of them think I’m crazy to do it and others think I’m crazy to have waited so long! No, I don’t feel lucky that I’m going to get a tummy tuck, it’s not something I would ever have chosen to do in other circumstances. Thankfully, my husband is very supportive.
    Thank you again for the reminder that there are so many women out there going through this and I’m not alone.

    1. Linda, I totally understand your not wanting to face another medical procedure. I am definitely “in need” of some tweaking, but I don’t want to do it right now, so I’m not. Enough is enough. Sorry to hear about the rupture. Good luck with your DIEP surgery. And yes, undoubtedly some will share their unwanted and unhelpful opinions with you. As long as you and your husband feel good about your decision, who cares what anyone else thinks, right? Thank you for sharing.

  22. Thank you, Nancy, so much for this post and to all the brave women above and their stories. My expander box (I agree with the woman who calls it the devil) is over-filled and my next surgery is in a few weeks to remove the box and put in the implant. I don’t think I’ve had a good night’s sleep since the box was put in. I’m eager to be free of the box, but so nervous about another surgery and the associated pain. The pain meds just didn’t work for me. No matter how many times I explain the box and the saline injections, family members don’t get it, and it’s frustrating. “It only took Jolie 2 months, why is it taking you so long?” Thank goodness for my breast cancer sisters that “get it.” Thank goodness for a husband that has supported me every step of the way. Gentle hugs to you all.

    1. Kristy, I like the term ‘box’ for the expander. It fits. I don’t blame you for feeling nervous about your upcoming swap for an implant. It should make things better, but…I’m glad you have a supportive husband. Hope your surgery and recovery go smoothly. Thank you for sharing.

  23. I had 2 lumpectomies and after a recurrence in the radiated boob, more chemo and a double mastectomy on April 19. They went direct to implants … besides the excruciating pain for 6 weeks all was going well until last Thursday when I ran a fever and spent the next 6 days in the hospital and had to have my infected implants removed. I thought the 105 fever could be the end of me. Now I look like Frankenstein with both implants removed and I don’t know where I’ll go from here. Your post, as always, is completely on target. All of the brave women who have left comments have helped me learn also … this is such a lifetime disease, even if there is NED, it’s never far from our minds or the pain in our bodies. Thank you for being so honest about what reconstruction is.

  24. I did not want to seem like i was unluck or unblessed so when I had the diagnoses of breast cancer for the 2nd time I fluffed it off to my co workers so when I did have the surgery and it was allot harder this time 11 years difference mad it a lot harder this time around and I have some nerve damage which is subsiding somewhat I know it will take time but for me I would much rather put up with the pain than not have any breast at all. That is my decision and I am over joyed with my breast but I must admit that they are really painful I never had much anyway but I am only to happy to exchange both breasts for a few more years on earth with my family. To each there own I always say and I totally understand where everyone is coming from especially when people choose not to understand what a horrible experience this truly is I would not wish it on my worst enemy. I try to hid my breast with layering my cloths as much as possible because that is all I notice people who know I have a double mastectomy and reconstruction look at I dont blame them I was the same way before I experienced it myself i used to wonder “oh man how can that poor woman live the life she has to live” but I would never ever say that to there faces I have been called a lot of names which really made me loss trust in most women who have not experienced what we are going thru I say oh they do not speak cancer because that is what it is a different language they do not understand anything and they dont want to understand. I hate it when people say “oh think positive” what do they know, they know nothing and they dont want to know anything they live in a world that is not reality but a world the is so superficial i can not believe that they chose to treat breast cancer patients as 2nd class people especially when they say “oh we are here to help you” NOT they are just saying those phrases out of fear that this disease will get them too. It seems like some women say better you than me. I have had the most negative comments from from women. My husband put lotion on spots i can not reach on my chest I was telling one of my co workers and she said oh i am surprised he would even touch it. how unfeeling some people can be is so surprising to me you would think i would be used to it by now!!!!!

  25. I just discovered your blog recently, and I’m so glad I did. I had a double mastectomy at 36, and many times my friends have said to me things like, “at least you get to have a free boob job,” which is the worst. I never would choose to have a boob job for starters. I know they are saying this though to try to find the good in something so unthinkable, like the silver lining, but I just tell them the real story. I’m constantly educating my friends, family, and doctors. I’m skinny, and tissue expanders were the worst pain I experienced in all of my cancer treatment, which was chemo, radiation, the whole nine yards. All of my doctors seem surprised by how “great” they look, but they still seem foreign to me, feel out of place, hurt at times, and are crooked. The standard for reconstruction is whether they look “normal” when wearing a bra, which is unfortunate. It’s a lame standard, in my opinion. Should be when not wearing a bra, and so much more. I had a nipple-sparing mastectomy, and I had no idea they would feel the way they do; sometimes I’m not sure if I made the right decision in keeping them at all, but it seemed like a better option. They hurt, often like a bruise, or I get a nauseas feeling at the slightest touch. I’m grateful to be alive, but I miss my boobs, will always miss them. And obviously, absolutely nothing like a “boob job.”

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