In 1996, I was diagnosed with stage 1 endometrial carcinoma. The doctor said it would be easy (don’t you hate hearing that sh*t?!?). Then he proceeded to tell me I had the vagina and reproductive organs of a 50 year old. Thanks, dick. Great thing to tell a newly diagnosed, scared 21 year old with an 8 month old in a baby carrier on the floor next to her. I was lucky! I was able to have a baby.
Fast forward to 2016. I found a funny spot on my right breast. After a million tests, I was diagnosed with ER+/PR- HER2- stage 1A breast cancer. The floor fell right out from under me. I went to my appointment alone. I sat in my car alone trying to process everything I was told. I made my first appointment with an oncologist alone and started looking for a surgeon alone. I drove home alone. You get the idea…
I had gotten a divorce in May of the previous year, I was in a new house, but mostly, I was alone. After 21 years with the same man, I was still getting my footing as a “strong, independent woman”. Now “alone” seemed like a thick word. Just saying it was like fighting thru a throat full of cotton.
I didn’t tell anyone at first. For some strange reason, I felt like I had failed myself. I felt like I had failed my daughter. All she knew was a family unit, then that failed. I had lived since I was a teen with my partner and that relationship failed. Now, what? …
A few weeks after, I had some odd “female” issues. Issues that had no place in a woman that had had a radical hysterectomy 20 years before. After a gynecologist appointment, I was referred to gynecology oncology. Whatever slight finger hold on reality I had was gone. After a million more tests I had the answer I was dreading since 1996. Stage 4 recurrent endometrial carcinoma. It was August 29th. My 41st birthday. I didn’t hear much after that. Things got fuzzy, black, and tunnel-like. I was led to surgery scheduling. After a very complicated debulking surgery, they discovered the cancer had spread to my colon and bladder. The healing process was fairly uneventful, thank goodness. That little and unattended issue of breast cancer was now looming unchallenged.
The…my, bilateral mastectomy was 7 months ago. After that was a port surgery and a month later, a re-excision on my left chest, which removed all remaining tissue as well as all the remaining muscle in my chest wall.
I hadn’t really put that much thought into breast reconstruction. Considering I was very well-endowed before surgery and my biggest fear (and source of terror!) was waking up flat. After dealing with 5 surgeries and countless procedures and tests, not to mention being poked and prodded (on both ends 😳) for the better part of a year, reconstruction was just not that important. I have prosthetics. 2 sets to be exact. A pair of C cups and a pair of G cups. Go big or go home!! I have worn them maybe 5 times. They’re hot, uncomfortable, heavy and most importantly, they’re not me.
To be honest, I like my body. I’ve come to like my scars. They’re pretty badass. Strangely enough, I’m more comfortable in this “new” body than the one I had known for 41 years. It has been such a short time and I can say I’m happy with myself. I also have a helluva lot more confidence now, breasts or not.
Maybe it’s because I fought so hard for this body. For this life.