Breast Reconstruction: Keeping Up Appearances

This first part is for all those out there that keep saying I have boobs or breasts!

If I had boobs, or breast as some would rather say, I would have ducts, tissue and nipples. Of which, I have none! If I had breast, they would bounce and not be hard as rocks. I can promise you, I would not hurt the way I do when I lie down to try and rest.

If I had breast, I would not have scars across my chest and gone through the painful process of separators that got saline injections weekly.

Separators are not boobs. They are silicone and saline shaped sort of like breast. If I had been more secure in myself as a woman I wouldn’t be torturing myself with all this. But to me, I just didn’t feel comfortable not having at least simulated breast…or Foobies, as I call them.

Silicone implants are not breast either!

Breast have a function…pleasure and feeding of children. Foobies are an accessory that you don’t have to worry about boob inserts falling out of your bra and shirt.

This is hard to deal with on days that are painful…but when I am reminded of having something that I don’t, it makes it harder deal with. My faith in the Lord gets me through most days…but everyone feels the disappointment or loss in weak or stressed moments.

Now, for what I had decided to write about at first…

A breast cancer survivor has been through many trials and tribulations — some of which are too difficult to put into words. Many emotions encompass our journey that forever changes our life. Beyond the emotions also lie the physical changes.

Surgery causes scars, forever altering the reflection in the mirror. It can also cause loss of feeling and sensitivity. Hormone treatment can cause the early onset of menopause symptoms. Chemotherapy can cause hair loss and changes to the texture of your skin and nails. These treatments can also cause weight gain. All of these physical changes can make it hard to revive self-esteem and confidence.

Even though it’s an important weapon in the fight against breast cancer, a mastectomy can take a serious emotional toll on a woman and even affect the way she looks at herself.

The loss of a woman’s breasts to cancer can affect her self-esteem, her sex drive, and just how she feels about herself as a woman.

Common struggles for women after losing a breast include feeling less “feminine” or worrying that they will be less attractive to their partner. These concerns may be more pronounced in women looking to get back into the dating scene after cancer. Part of the healing process, however, is learning to feel comfortable — and even learning to love — your new body.

You don’t have to rush to reignite the flames. Take your time, talk openly to your partner, and experiment with different positions that make you feel more comfortable and less self-conscious. Most importantly, be patient with yourself.

But although it may take some getting used to and a lot of communication with her partner, a woman battling breast cancer can learn to love her post-mastectomy body and feel just as womanly and sexy as she did before breast cancer treatment. (I am still in this process.)

Women should understand early on that a mastectomy will affect them mentally almost as much as it will physically and that they should begin exploring therapies to help them cope with the emotional effects of a mastectomy even before their breast cancer surgery.

A mastectomy can lead to a distorted self-image, pain, and lymphedema (swelling due to fluid build-up after lymph node removal.) Consultations with plastic surgeons can definitely help, as well as seeing a psychologist prior to the surgery.

Even if a woman knows it’s the right thing, agreeing to a mastectomy as part of breast cancer treatment can be a difficult choice to make.

When I had to make up my mind about getting a mastectomy, it was hard, I was the only one that could make the hard choice. It was either a bilateral mastectomy or just removal of my right breast. I chose the bilateral.

When I had my surgery, I wanted my doctor to do the mastectomy and put in my expanders on the same day. An expander is used to prepare the breast area for reconstruction by slowly stretching the area and making room for an implant. I am happy with the decision that I made…even though they are painful, hard and they really look nothing like real breast.

Keeping a positive attitude is not always easy, but it helps to deal with the loss of your breast or breasts, it’s important to focus on the positive.

I have coped pretty well with the loss of my breasts, to keep myself sane, I thought of the bright side of the picture: I was not going to have a mammogram, again. The loss of my breasts has at times made me sad, but the alternative is out of the question.

Talk with your partner. Many women may worry about their sexual relationships after a mastectomy — and may wonder if others will still find them attractive. This is probably the biggest fear I have had. Men make such a big deal over a woman’s breast without thinking of the impact it has on a woman. It is something that gets stored in the back of their mind, where when something like this happens, it tears at our minds.

Women also may miss the sensitivity and pleasure derived from touching their nipples and breasts. Talk with your partner and share your concerns and fears. You will probably discover that there are many characteristics beyond your breasts that make you attractive and womanly to your partner.

A mastectomy for breast cancer will not change a woman’s ability to enjoy sex physically, but it can make her feel a little self-conscious. A woman who is shy about intimacy after a mastectomy may prefer sex in a position that doesn’t require her partner to be on top — where her missing breasts are more obvious. Once again, communication with your partner can be very helpful in maintaining a healthy, happy sex life after breast cancer.

Consider breast reconstruction or a breast prosthesis. To help feel more like themselves and improve self-esteem, many women opt for plastic surgery to reconstruct their breasts after mastectomy. A woman’s own breast tissue, implants, or breast expanders, or a combination of these, can be used to surgically enhance the appearance of breasts. Some women may choose to use a prosthetic breast, an artificial breast that can be worn under a bra to give the appearance of a natural breast.

Do things that make you feel healthy and good about yourself. Figure out what helps you feel good about yourself, and stick to that regimen.

Although a mastectomy can change your feelings about yourself and your body, it’s important to remember that you’re worthy of love and attention — both from yourself and others. By staying positive and surrounding yourself with a good support system, you can undergo a mastectomy with your self-esteem intact.

5 Comments

  1. Great post, and good advice. The self consciousness you mention I know is true, but I (for one, and as a man) hold that any “man” or “lover” worthy of the titles will always see the beauty in a woman he loves.

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      1. That is so sad. While dealing with my wife’s cancer (a different area, but still devastating in its consequences : Hair loss, “chemo brain”, scaring, etc) I even more before, have come to value every moment with her.

        Like

      2. Thank you! I, too have a supportive husband. And I support him totally. He has non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. He goes in for 1 chemo treatment every 3 months. And my Mother has Stage 4 Pancreatic Cancer. I take her in every other week for treatment. Thank you again for being a hero to your wife and caring for her and loving her every step of the way.

        Liked by 1 person

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