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Forum: Living Without Reconstruction After a Mastectomy — Discuss prostheses, swimsuits, bras, and other options for women not having reconstruction or waiting for reconstruction.

Posted on: Apr 25, 2018 09:16AM

PerAngusta wrote:

Hello BC Ladies and Gents!

I am a former swimsuit model, long, silky dirty blond hair, big blue eyes, 5'9" - 130 pounds - perky, full, high 36C breasts BEFORE CANCER. Sounds great, right? lol IT WAS!! It was ideal.

BUT HONESTLY, I was born that way! It was a fortunate FLUKE. I didn't earn it, didn't buy it, it just "was-what-it-was"!! AND MAKE NO MISTAKE....what it was, was a socially accepted and embraced "standard" made up and created by media/strangers. If I had been born in a different skinny-bean body would have been considered "unsightly" and implied poverty, infertility or even ill-health!!! Big, round, robust women used to be a standard at one time!! Just look to the arts for examples!!! Again, a SOCIAL STANDARD!! Imposed and 100% MADE UP, FABRICATED, IRRELEVANT!!!!!

After 18 months of cancer treatments and surgeries (including complete hysterectomy and bilateral mastectomy, chemo, radiation, herceptin and tamoxifen) I was bald, flatter-than-flat-chested and gained 30 pounds out of nowhere! I had two small children at the time of my diagnosis (aged 9 and 11) and a young husband who (to date) hasn't had sex with me - since all of my "medically disrupted hormonal nonsense" dried up my [um-hmmm....] "entire-ness" and made the whole thing UN-ENJOYABLE/INTOLERABLE for me. And THAT is another post altogether!!! lol FYI - we have found ways to work around that as well!! IMAGINATION AND CREATIVITY IS YOUR FRIEND THROUGHOUT YOUR HEALING PROCESS!!

Fast forward to the happy part of this story (recreating a positive self image was a process and it felt like forever......but I am 2 years beyond completion of all treatments)...WHICH IS THAT I FEEL HAPPY TO BE ME AGAIN! I opted against the reconstruction right out of the gate - hubby and I decided NOT to put my body through any additional procedures. Today, I have long hair again, silky and wonderful (which was super scary because at first, it came in CURLY and WIRE-LIKE??) and I have worked hard to lose that 30 pounds again!!! I buy different clothes than I did before I had cancer....nothing V-neck or low cut bras required anymore and my bathing suits are no longer string bikinis.....but let me tell you, I LOOK GREAT!!! I look in the mirror and smile and feel super proud of myself!! I see a strong, lean woman (albeit, battling lymphadema daily!!!) with a whole day ahead of herself and I feel gorgeous!!! Heck, runway models don't have breasts (to speak of) either!!!

Naked? Well, naked is another thing, isn't it? Naked, I must admit that I feel a bit like a mannequin....and a little "genderless" but in the oddest way....more HUMAN/CONNECTED than I have ever felt!! I can now relate to.....just about anything or anyone! I feel great and think that going flat is simply a matter of personal preference and honestly, if you don't let it bother you or define won't!!!! YOU are YOU, with breasts, without breasts, with hair, without hair, etc.

Inspirational movie that I just watched last night with my young daughter......"I FEEL PRETTY" with Amy Schumer!! Check it out and enjoy it for the beautiful film that it is!!! It is largely about "social perfection" and self esteem. It speaks to anyone struggling with a mirror or socially imposed standards!!!

And from me to you? YOU ARE SUPER BEAUTIFUL IF YOU THINK YOU ARE!!!! :) As Amy Schumer might agree!!!! Do whatever you need to be kind and generous to yourself and restore your own, positive self image. You KNOW how to do that for know what your own standards and comfort levels are!! AND NO ONE IS THE SAME!! That is the secret of our REAL BEAUTY! Individual appeal!!!

AND FOR THOSE OF YOU WHO "DO" want reconstruction? Sure!!! Awesome!!! I'm cheering for you folks too!!!! It's a personal thing!! Make it work for you - if that's what you want!!!! Only YOU know what makes YOU feel happy, safe, secure! For instance, personally, I could not go "bald" and so I wore wigs until my hair came back!! Yet, many of my BC friends embraced their baldness and they were completely okay without a wig!! We learn to adapt or.....we crumble. Don't do it!! Don't crumble!! Find your way and know that it IS possible to be happy again!

You matter and so do your choices. I hope this has provided some insight. I wish you all the best!! :)

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Apr 14, 2020 03:04PM cyathea wrote:

Earth Sky, I had a BMX on March 18, flat with nipple grafts. I remember wondering if I would cry or get emotional when I saw my scars for the first time. (Not that this is wrong or bad, but it’s not how I tend to react and I was concerned that my normally “put together” mindset would suddenly fall apart and leave me stranded without a rescue ladder.) For me, it wasn’t worth the worry. I’m not mourning like I thought I might. Instead, I’ve found that I can embrace this “new me”. I hope tomorrow ends up being like that for you as well.

I would have loved to keep my breasts (even though I was not blessed with pretty skin or a large "handful" LOL). Despite their flaws, I liked having breasts. Now, I see that my scars have a kind of symmetrical beauty and I can embrace my “athletic breast”. (If only I could get rid of my lymphedema and nerve damage I could actual BE athletic!)

Onething that helped me was seeing a video of scar progression over time from an FTM surgery. I was prepared for what the scar might look like early on versus what it will look like a year from now. It prepared me to anticipate how I will look then rather than focusing on the detail of how the scars look now. I’m thinking the way that an artist might see a rough hewn block of marble or wood, where their mind’s eye is already able to see the transformed piece of art that it will become.

The video may not be helpful for everyone, but here’s a link:

Each person is sailing through their own uncharted waters. We each may face different rocky shoals, lack of wind, or temporary storms. There is no right or wrong way to go, but reading about the voyages that others have taken gives us courage to continue our journey.

PerAngusta, thanks for starting this with your fantastic post. Thanks to everyone else for posting as well.

Dx 6/17/2019, DCIS/ILC, Right, 5cm, Stage IV, metastasized to bone, Grade 2, ER+/PR-, HER2+ (FISH) Targeted Therapy 8/1/2019 Perjeta (pertuzumab) Chemotherapy 8/1/2019 Carboplatin (Paraplatin), Taxotere (docetaxel) Chemotherapy 10/9/2019 Abraxane (albumin-bound or nab-paclitaxel) Targeted Therapy 10/10/2019 Herceptin (trastuzumab) Surgery 3/18/2020 Lymph node removal: Left, Right, Sentinel, Underarm/Axillary; Mastectomy: Left, Right Chemotherapy 4/16/2020 Other Radiation Therapy 6/1/2020 3DCRT: Breast, Lymph nodes, Bone Hormonal Therapy 8/21/2020 Tamoxifen pills (Nolvadex, Apo-Tamox, Tamofen, Tamone) Targeted Therapy Herceptin (trastuzumab)

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