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I look for other flat chested women. A rant.

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Comments

  • CLC
    CLC Member Posts: 615

    ddlatt...thank you for sharing your wonderful self-portrait!  I feel so fortunate to be "surrounded" by such strong, unique, empowered and empowering women.

  • alexandria58
    alexandria58 Member Posts: 202

    In terms of the decision to reconstruct or not:  I absolutely believe that women should do what feels right to them.  What concerns me is that going flat is often not presented as a viable option, and that women who do go flat can feel isolated.  My surgeon pushed for reconstruction, said that a woman doesn't feel like a woman without her breasts.  What I'd love to see is total acceptance of all the choices that this disease has forced us into  recon or no recon, foobs or flat.  We are all beautiful women regardless of our choice.

  • MT1
    MT1 Member Posts: 223

    I am so glad I spoke up. Thanks everyone for coming, talking. Normalizing with me.

    LtotheK-gosh. My thoughts are with you next week. I second what Monine said, going flat is not for everyone. We are here for you.

    LillyLady, gender vaguery really does puzzle some folks out there. Thanks for yelling about humor! (laughing).  You should be able to joke if you want to! They will come around.

    Linda, what does LX mean?

    I took some snap shots of myself before surgery and I like looking at them now. There isn't anything special about them as photos but I check back and look at them now and again.

    I am glad you have photos that are beauty full, one day you may want to look back. 

    I have more to write but I have been working at the computer all day and want to get up and do stuff.

  • LtotheK
    LtotheK Member Posts: 487

    I didn't mean to question going flat!  We need to make individual choices, however, I seriously question what "right" is in a world that hounds women so mercilessly to comply with the status quo.  And I'm questioning my motivations, this is a wonderful thing.  You are all helping me see a rich and powerful dialogue around this topic.  Went to scar project, WONDERFUL.  My husband and I looked at it together.  This is the first step in acceptance, no matter what my choice will be.

    Gender issues are a wonderful thing to play with, they can also be exhausting.  Being a 39 year old bald woman was very confusing for people, and I was in constant dialogue with people.  I was happy to educate some, support others who had been on a similar journey, but it is very public.  I didn't have a choice--I was hot flashing so badly I couldn't even consider a scarf.  So I feel for those of you, like MT1, who stepped into that pool.  I had people coming up to me telling me how fabulous I looked, and I had a group of men screaming at me from a car calling me an ugly whore.   

    I totally understand the idea of getting these sneaky buggers off once and for all.  Having gone through the choice of lumpectomy and radiation, I need to forgive my body.  They made it through being massacred and have allowed me to continue what I do.  But yes, I can totally understand the notion they feel like time bombs, especially considering what I'm going through now!

    Edited to add:  I, too was pushed into my decision for lumpectomy, and I believe it was also largely for cosmetic reasons. This is powerful stuff, our social order. Thank you all for your kind wishes.  Good wishes to all of us on this difficult road!

  • coraleliz
    coraleliz Member Posts: 158

    I probabably would have gone the lumpectomy route if it could have been neat & tidy. The surgeon drew a picture of my breast & outlined what she thought she'd have to remove to get clear margins. This included the nipple. What would remain would not resemble a breast. But then they found a tumor in the other breast.............

    So.... I'm not alone. I noticed a swimsuit hanging in the locker room at the gym. Then I noticed some evidence of "sewing" in one of the cups. Yep, someone had sewn a form into it. I wish I could have assisted in returning this suit to the owner. So many women write about the challenges of finding swimwear that a form will work in. Whenever I'veaccidently left swimsuits in the locker room, they were gone for goodFrown

    At this point, I need to quit going shopping!  I'm finding waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay tooooooooooooo many things that work for me being flat(Lol). Including 2 competitive style 2 piece bathing suits to swim laps inSmile. And the back baring styles tops, oh yeah!

  • Momine
    Momine Member Posts: 2,845

    Alexandria and LK, I did have people questioning me about the choice not to do recon, along the lines of the idea that my identity as a woman would be shot with no boobs and that it would cause me psychological problems. I told one, a psychiatrist and good friend, that he was projecting how he would feel about losing his balls. He laughed and took the point.

    Probably this does play for some women, we are all different. But for me it has just not been an issue. I have other issues around it, and there are days it bugs me and all that, but it has not made even a dent in my perception of myself as female, feminine and attractive (to my surprise on that last one). I do find it most annoying, however, when doctors (or anyone else really) try to tell me how I must feel about something they have no freakin idea about. As for my own surgeon, I give him credit for not pushing anything one way or the other. He asked for the recon delay for purely medical and solid reasons.

    LK, I would suggest that you delay recon, if you do end up with a BMX. Give yourself the chance to "test drive" being flat. 

    Cwest, thanks for the offer. Only snag is that I live in Greece ;).

    Lily, I did see the scar project, online, and that is what gave me the idea. 

  • greenfrog
    greenfrog Member Posts: 73

    Momine - absolutely - (some) men do equate the loss of breasts to the loss of their own genitals I am sure! Either that or the mummy attachment or sexual fetishization of the breast has caused them to totally lose all perspective.

    My surgeons - in fact my whole medical team including the PS - are female. And there is a definite anti-reconstruction mood at my hospital perhaps because there are lots of women calling the shots rather than the typical boys club deciding what is "best" for women.

    Roadtesting options is an important part of this process. I have tried the prostheses route and it really didn't work for me. I am now trialling total flatness - and so far so good. This is certainly the most comfortable I have been and I think I look better flat too. Certainly slimmer and younger without my saggy old bags. I detest my scarring though.

    I agree with Alexandria that breastlessness really does need to be presented as more of an viable option. In the UK where prostheses and reconstruction are free, women are just expected to pursue one of those courses. It has taken me 4 years to give myself permission to go flat. Ridiculous isn't it?

    Powerful photos being shared on here - you have my greatest respect.

  • Momine
    Momine Member Posts: 2,845

    I hear you, Frog. Again I have to give props to my, completely male, BS, who insisted that this was the time to put myself first, and who respected my preferences concerning treatment.



    I do think it is really important, as you describe, to keep an open mind and experiment with the various options. So many different factors go into what works for any given woman, that it is hard to think of a cookie cutter solution.

  • Flat_for_Life
    Flat_for_Life Member Posts: 11

    I bought myself an elliptical bicycle the next day after surgery while I was still in the hospital!  hahahahahahaha.....I love HSN!!!! (Home Shopping Network-TV)  My best friend said....OK...IT IS TIME FOR YOU TO GO HOME!!!!! I love to shop....

    It is great because you can sit and just hang on to the stationary handle bars (no shoulder movement, yet)...then I can add my shoulders later with the elliptical bars.  Cost was about 270.00...so pretty reasonable.  I bike 4 miles (30 min) a day....really made me feel like I was exercising even though I couldn't move my arms.Smile

  • Flat_for_Life
    Flat_for_Life Member Posts: 11

    I bought myself an elliptical bicycle the next day after surgery while I was still in the hospital!  hahahahahahaha.....I love HSN!!!! (Home Shopping Network-TV)  My best friend said....OK...IT IS TIME FOR YOU TO GO HOME!!!!! I love to shop....

    It is great because you can sit and just hang on to the stationary handle bars (no shoulder movement, yet)...then I can add my shoulders later with the elliptical bars.  Cost was about 270.00...so pretty reasonable.  I bike 4 miles (30 min) a day....really made me feel like I was exercising even though I couldn't move my arms.Smile

  • CLC
    CLC Member Posts: 615

    What an awesome decision to make while sitting in the hospital! 

  • Momine
    Momine Member Posts: 2,845

    @.

  • alexandria58
    alexandria58 Member Posts: 202

    Impressed at getting moving so quickly.  I'm back to biking, but it took me a loong while.

  • Nel
    Nel Member Posts: 597

    This is such a powerful thread.  I am so honored to be be able to read and have sharing from such confident and amazing women.

    I am sitting here in Boston this afternoon - 80-90 degrees no bra no foob and so very comfortable

    Gentle Weekend to all

    Nel

  • MT1
    MT1 Member Posts: 223

    Alexandria said: What concerns me is that going flat is often not presented as a viable option, and that women who do go flat can feel isolated...What I'd love to see is total acceptance of all the choices that this disease has forced us into recon or no recon, foobs or flat.  We are all beautiful women regardless of our choice.

    My doctors were so Pro-reconstruction that I felt like they saw me as crazy, as if I were deciding not to reconstruct because I was depressed, overwhelmed, not in control of my mind. They asked me to speak with a psychiatrist, they 'required' it. I did, though I was steaming mad. I had to wait for the woman and boy do I hate waiting in doctors offices for appointments that I willingly make. I was so angry I was shaking, I rarely get this angry. At the end of the visit, she granted me the fact that I was on stable ground. Still angry.

    As I have said, I knew I did not want to put my body through reconstruction at the first visit to the plastic surgeon. I heard what he had to say and I knew.

    I too dislike that going flat is not presented as a viable option. Why?

    Does anyone know of a mainstream pink ribbon fund raising campaign that shows a half/flat chested woman? 

  • Jo5
    Jo5 Member Posts: 2

    Nei i too sit here with no foobs and very comfortable. Almost took my top off in my pool today i want to swim but my son showed up with some friends so maybe tomorrow .....hugs to all

  • alexandria58
    alexandria58 Member Posts: 202

    What we need is a flat liberation movement - maybe it'll start with us.

    MT - Just reading your story makes me angry. Your doctors forced you to see a psychiatrist because you didn't want to reconstruct - HOW DARE THEY!!!   If it were a male part that would cause the man to undergo additional pain and additional risk,  do you think the doctors would be pushing it?  I'm just getting angrier as I type.  It's the whole idea that we only have worth because of our boobs - because that's what men like, and since that's all we're worth, our breasts, that's why we have to be depressed not to want to reconstruct.  ARRRRHHHH   ( turning into giant green monster - going to rip out doctor's offices)

  • outfield
    outfield Member Posts: 235

    Damn, that is awful about the psychiatrist.   DISRESPECTFUL.

    I can have a rather forceful and emphatic way about me, and maybe that's what has protected me from any of that BS, or maybe it's just that I live out in the middle of desert nowhere, in a wonderful small city where people really do tolerate a lot of differences amongst each other.  Or maybe I've just been lucky.  

    My biggest gripe about going flat hasn't been with my individual doctors, but with all the patient ed and Komen-type stuff I see. Someone said it up above - when do you ever see a picture of a flat or uni-boobed woman?

    There's a softball team made up of amputee veterans that travels around the country, and I saw them in the elevator at work once not too long ago, all in their shorts and T-shirts.  Their prosthesis were all function - looked more like Oscar Pistorius's blades than like pretend feet and legs and arms and hands.  Why can a person lose a hand or a foot and have it be OK not wearing something to fool others into thinking it never happened, but not breasts?

  • LtotheK
    LtotheK Member Posts: 487

    "Why can a person lose a hand or a foot and have it be OK not wearing something to fool others into thinking it never happened, but not breasts?"

    Well, Outfield, this is what I've been lightly driving at with my posts.  Because women are public property.  Women are sexual objects.  Women associate their personhood with the feminine signifiers that make them "acceptable" to society.  If you want to get the extent of misogyny in this world, imagine the hatred of women it would take to scream at a clearly cancer-addled young woman and call her an ugly whore (yes, it happened to me).

    Probably the most difficult comment anyone made to me was from one of my great friends.  It was the "well, at least you could get a great pair of tits!"  We are so beauty focused the world doesn't even know the unbelievable anguish and difficulty women go through physically with mastectomy and reconstruction.  It's like it's a party.

    Barbara Ehrenreich is very smart on this topic.  The Pink Parade is simply a reflection of how society wants women to behave.  Stiff upper lip, and make sure to look "presentable".  I often say I wonder how many great novels could have been written if women spent less time trying to please everyone! I was at least smart enough to have a good mantra for my commando appearance during chemo:  it is not my job to make everyone else feel comfortable about MY cancer.

  • Tina337
    Tina337 Member Posts: 516

    Oh, Barbara Ehrenreich, now we're talking. "Bright Sided" is a great read. Loved her view on the BC experience. The first chapter of this book was originally an essay, "Welcome to Cancerland". One of the first books I read after BC that really expressed a lot of how I felt.

  • greenfrog
    greenfrog Member Posts: 73

    I have heard of women being obligated to undergo psychiatric evaluation prior to a prophylactic mx - but compelling women to see shrinks because they opt not to reconstruct?! The lunatics are in charge of the asylum it seems.

    When my GP asked why I was opposed to the idea of recon I said "Oddly enough I really don't want my belly hacked off and sewn to my chest during a 10 hour operation." The concept of reconstruction (as has happened with all cosmetic surgery) has been normalised - but what it entails is pretty ghoulish in my opinion. Sometimes I feel quite militant about it - but you aren't allowed to express that very often because you may trample on the feelings of women who have had it. But if the pendulum has swung so much that women are having to undergo analysis because they don't want reconstruction then maybe the time has come to speak up and obligate the medical fraternity to back off on this issue.

    I am interested to know how many women in countries with socialised health care (where we don't have to pay for treatment and so cost/insurance is not a factor) do not opt for reconstruction. There is an unpleasant paper I read recently which examines why women do not reconstruct eventhough "it has been proven to improve their physical and psychological wellbeing". I shall try to find it.

    My ex-brother in law had a testicle removed for cancer. He was offered a prosthesis and laughed so much at the idea of it that he nearly tore his stitches. All of the men in the family (and at work and down the pub and in his footy team) thought it hysterical and ridiculous that the docs had offered him a silicone bollock to shove down his pants. These are the same men who pay for their girlfriends to get boob jobs "to make them feel better about themselves". Double standards everywhere.

  • Momine
    Momine Member Posts: 2,845

    Mel, that is truly off-pissing about the shrink. We can't curse on here unfortunately, but I am certainly inspired to let loose a few choice expletives.



    Froggie, I don't know what the recon percentages are in Europe. We have apublic system here in Greece, but I went private all the way. Because I was introduced to my doc by a very big businessman (who used to own the hospital where I was treated), nobody pushed me to do anything I did not want to do pretty much. It was quite funny, because many of the caregivers thought I was some kind of VIP or celebrity. Anyway, I do seriously question these studies purporting to show that recon improves well-being. I am sure that for some women that is true, but universally it sounds dubious to me.

  • Momine
    Momine Member Posts: 2,845





    Anyway, here is the link http://www.fimnet.fi/sjs/articles/SJS32005-211.pdf

    Oh, and found a paper about the Danish situation. It says that about 3000 mastectomies are perfprmed every year and about 300 recons. This would suggest a recon rate of about 10%.

  • alexandria58
    alexandria58 Member Posts: 202

    Just a personal note:  I had widespread DCIS, mixed grade - high to low, and once I had the BMX, I was done.  So it wasn't the fact of having rads or chemo that decided me against reconstruction.  

    What I liked most about my breasts was the physical sensation - which with or without recon would be gone.  I would simply have something artificial inserted in my body or fat from another part of my body to simulate a body part that no longer had any function. (I also had one doctor who I trusted tell me that recurrences may to harder to spot with with recon.)  I hated the idea of a longer more risky surgery , more time in the hospital,and then additional surgeries. I hate surgery.  I hate hospitals. I am a terrible patient.  I just wanted this over and done as quickly as possible.  I wanted to get back to my life, not spend more time in hospitals.

    I also did this, however, as a political statement -because as an early feminist - I felt that I was more than my breasts.  My beauty was not breast deep.  I also deeply resented the pressure to get recon and was angered at the little to no support for women who do not want the additional surgeries and pain. 

    Two years ago, my then 17 year old did a research paper on the American society's expectations that women be thin with huge breasts, and how destructive those expectations can be on women's mental and physical health.  Remembering her work also fueled my decision. 

    That's why this group is so important.  Someone has to take the lead if things are ever to change.  We can do it!!!
  • LtotheK
    LtotheK Member Posts: 487

    Ehrenreich is great on just about all topics.  Got turned on to her reading The Nation...Katha Pollitt another fave!

    I think the male prosthetic is sexually similar, but socially very different.  Women wear their breasts "up front and center".  It's a bit more akin to the loss of my hair.  Wearing your cancer publicly is just a completely different relationship with an unfortunately pretty stupid culture. I have gorgeous friends, and most of them are educated at least to the Masters level.  It really turns my stomach at the idiotic comments I was subject to.  

    What is thrilling to me about this is we are all participating in historic change.  Our choices, whether to reconstruct or go flat, are public in a way they have never been.  Just saw a performance posted here about lymphedema.  Talk about the forgotten SE!  And women are stepping up and speaking out.

    I never wanted to be as "amazing" or "strong" as BC has made me, but it's true, I'm an amazon.  We all are as a result, and we have a lot of people to teach!

  • mumito
    mumito Member Posts: 2,007

    I was told by my BS to take a lot of time to think about it..She said that any of her patients that rushed into recon often regreted it.Once I had made my decision not to reconstruct she actually seemed relieved. All our experiences seem quite different.

  • crystalphm
    crystalphm Member Posts: 277

    And I am in the opposite boat, maybe because I live in small town America? Reconstruction was frowned upon, by every single doctor I came in contact with. It was never even suggested, I think once I may have asked a doctor (because I too was being told by friends now was my chance to get a great set of tits...) and the doctor discouraged me.

    On this side of the fence, I often found myself thinking "doesn't anyone/medical respect my sexuality?"

    Which basically points out what a complicated issue this is, to no longer have the thing men look at the most.

    This summer, being terribly hot I am finding my way with cowl neck tops....or just being flat. Finally. Well, this topic has given me tremendous strength....

  • CLC
    CLC Member Posts: 615

    When I was a young college student, and a strongly self-identified feminist, I found an amazing poster in a women's bookstore.  It was of a woman, naked from the waist up who'd had a umx and tatoo'd the scar.  I had no connection with breast cancer then.  I fell in love with the poster, bought it and put it up in my dorm room.  Every time I looked at her, I thought, I hope some day I can be that strong in the face of adversity.  She was my role model in some ways.

    When people came to my room, they would look away or ask why I would want a picture of such disfiguration on my wall.  I tried to explain, but I don't think any of them, even my very closest friends understood. 

    I forgot about this poster years later, until my own bc dx.  I found her poster online at

    http://www.deenametzger.com/poster/poster.html

    I was stunned to realize that I'd found myself accidently in her position.  And I understood from two angles what it means to be a strong powerful woman.  It is nothing more or less than doing what you need to, in order to survive intact.  Intact emotionally.

    As a post script to this story, I emailed her and was able to thank her for her strength...for being my role model.  I am so glad to be able to say that she responded with a wonderful email back.

    Claire

  • alexandria58
    alexandria58 Member Posts: 202

    Claire:  Beautiful poster and great poem!!

  • LtotheK
    LtotheK Member Posts: 487

    My great grandmother was a suffragette, my grandmother a Virginia Woolf scholar and a famous girls school headmistress, my mother and aunt pro-choice activists and feminist artist.  This image was a huge part of my growing up, as it appeared in many feminist books about women's empowerment.  Thank you for reminding me of a thread through my entire life! 

    Interestingly enough, in my own art career I used to paint Amazons who in mythology cut their breast to get better aim.

    Sadly, I can't find the most iconic image to me, a famous model who took photographs of herself with her mastectomy back in the 80s.  She had an Eastern European name.