Friday, December 9, 2011

Girl Talk

If you're a guy, you might want to skip this one.  Unless you're with a woman who's dealing with all this.

So . .  you know what?

I'm thinking seriously about calling a halt to this whole reconstruction thing.

I hate it.  I'm sore.  It's going to get worse, not better. I haven't seen my own bedroom in three weeks.  It will probably be at least three months.

It would be one thing if this were medically necessary; fine, ok.  But it's not.

I want to feel healthy and strong and not tired. I want to be able to do yoga. I want to be able to take a very long walk.   I want to go nowhere near any kind of medical facility for months at a time.  I don't see any of that in my near future if I continue with this. 

My breast is gone.  It was sort of a big deal, but in the end, not very much of one.

It wasn't Josh.

This isn't Josh either, but it's a bigger deal than the mastectomy.  Weeks of "expansion." An implant finally inserted.  Two more "minor" procedures to make my fake breast look like a real one.  Another fairly major surgery to make my real one look more like my fake one.


Is it possible that I have completely lost my mind?

A law school classmate of mine wore one of the most gorgeous strapless dresses I have ever seen to her son's wedding this past summer.  I was practically drooling over the FB pictures.  Her toned body, her handsome son, her incredible dress.  Oh, and her great haircut, too.

Well, the son whose wedding I was looking forward to is gone.  Do I really care at all that I will never be able to wear a dress like that?


I'm going to talk to the plastic surgeon next week about what he can do to make what's left look sort of, well, not awful.

I want to have a yoga instructor, not a plastic surgeon.


  1. I've often wondered what I would do, and you share some of my own leanings. Of course, it's all different and real when you are actually living it. I have no advice (and I know you didn't ask) except this: perhaps a bit more time will give you your answer. It seems they (medical establishments) are in such a rush to do it all at once, when a bit of time to recover and adjust and decide might give a better quality decision to the whole thing.
    Well, that's what I wish for you, anyway. Aaargh. Nothing's simple, is it.
    Love and support (apropos term), Karen EAST

  2. As many people have told me while I was discussing it with's a very personal decision. And it is. And it's the same decision I made. I think it was made easier in that I had both breasts removed and I have "symmetry" no matter whether I'm wearing a prosthetic or not. But I looked at the hard road to get from A to B (no pun intended) and also decided it just wasn't for me. AND THAT IS OK. You will be ok. All of this will be ok. But more than these things, let me say to be still with God...He will guide you in whatever direction is best for you. Hugs and love! : )

  3. As others have said, and as I've told you before, this is a personal choice with no "right" or "wrong" decisions. I like Karen East's suggestion of putting a little more time between now and the decision to see if you feel differently. Thinking of you and you were in my mishebeirach prayer again last night.

  4. I LOVE the idea of taking more time to make your decision! To me that is the only right or wrong at play. And I think being pushed (even with great motives) is not a good idea.

    It's a kind of principle -- if I'm in a rush (or being rushed) is it God's plan or man's? In my experience, rushing is a man-made mode of being.

    Unless you're water going over a cliff.

    Again and with everyone else - it's such a personal decision, and really can only be made by the woman going through it. Even though I have certainly thought about it as this cancer runs in my family.

    I feel confident you will come to a place of total peace with whatever decision you make if you are allowed the time to do it in a way commensurate with your own particular path.

  5. Another mama story: As I told in a previous posting, reconstruction was not an option to even consider when my mom had her mastectomy. Instead, she was fitted for a prosthetic that came in a lovely little silk pouch. She got the bras that it slipped into as well. One day, she, my dad and I were sitting together and in o ne fluid motion, she pulled the prosthesis out and threw at me and said, "catch". I did, surprised by the heft, the feel and the size. Mainly, though, I was stunned to be paling this game of catch because she instructed me to toss it at my dad next. Then she said, "You know, it's reassuring carrying this thing around. I could certainly hurl it at a thief if he attempted to snatch my purse (a not uncommon occurrence in Colombia, where my parents were living)". She had the most impish, pleased look on her face. I knew then that she would be alright.

    The reconstructive surgery sounds brutal, Robin. I hear you loud and clear when you describe the desire to get healthy and regain your energy. I hope the path keeps opening for you that takes you there quickly. Peas...Rosa

  6. One of my friends says that his mother used to pull her prosthesis out and toss it on the kitchen table and say, "I've had it with this thing for today!"

    The reconstructive surgery IS brutal. In one sense, it's a great thing that there is now an understanding and acceptance of the need and desire women have to look as close as possible to the way we once did. OTH, while the end results are ok, the techniques to get there still have a long way to go.

    I keep thinking, what if I died in 20 years, at age 78? Would I want to have given up 5% of m ytime to this? What if it were 10 years and 10%?

    Clearly I am trying to take some time to think this through. As far as I can tell from friends and acquaintances and online stories, I am not unusual in not having had the full picture before I got started on this. Maybe surgeons are afraid to tell patients because they're afraid we'll refuse treatment altogether. Or maybe plastic surgeons are just naturally optimistic folks. Or maybe -- now this would be an interesting study -- there is a huge psychological difference in terms of what we are willing to tolerate to look like whatever between their patients who do this sort of thing voluntarily and those of us to whom it would never occur outside of a major health crisis.

  7. Robin, these are all such valid, important points that you've made. No pun intended, but trust your gut as you make your decisions. :)

    Peace to you--Mary Hill

  8. I'm so glad you are giving yourself the freedom to discern and choose, Robin...I had no idea how painful and protracted the process was till my sister-in-law began it recently. It made me think 1) I don't think I'd do it (though of course I couldn't really know till it happened) and 2) I now have one more thing to dislike about the societal pressure on women about conventional appearance at any price: the pressure/assumption that this is automatic after every mastectomy rather than a women's free choice. I also remember accompanying a dear friend to a medical appt and seeing how lovely her Amazon look was: beautiful woman on one side, innocent child on the other. She has an awesome poem about the scar which I think I will send you.

  9. I did feel that I had a plethora of choices, that any one of them would have been respected, and that my excellent surgeons would have done their best to make things work as well as possible regardless of my decision.

    What I did not have enough of was information. I did my best, over a long two months, but I was of course preoccupied with my ordination (!), and trying to absorb vast amounts of new information when one is in a state of long-term shock is never a good thing.

    I think I also didn't have enough information about myself, and maybe I could not possibly have had that without going through this. My first gut reaction, way back in September, was: just do a mastectomy and be finished. Then as I learned more, I thought, Well, maybe I could continue to look something like myself. Now that I see how great the cost is, I think probably not. But if I had just had the first surgery, would I always have wondered whether I should have gone farther?

    I was surprised by your description, though. I think that I view a flat female chest with a long scar across it as that of a stunningly beautiful and courageous and very adult woman, not that of an innocent child.