Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Breast Cancer Courage

Cheryl of A Song Not Scored for Breathing has posted her post-mastectomy image today to mark the first anniversary of the day she awoke from anesthesia without a breast.  She's participated in a photography project in which she's the first woman (in that particular project) to allow herself to be photographed without some sort of illusionary covering designed to conceal the bare naked truth.  I don't know whether she'll post in her blog, but here's her FB link.
I'm not posting it here because, truthfully, I'm not as brave as Cheryl where this one's concerned.  I've had reconstructive surgery, but I can't say that I look much different that she does.  And when I look at her photo I'm reminded of the conversation I had with either my surgeon or her nurse practitioner a year ago, at my one-year check up:
How do you feel about this?
I think it's hideous.  I cringe whenever I accidentally look in the mirror.  I'm so sorry I bothered with the reconstruction - months of pain so that I could more closely resemble Frankenstein.
Wow.  You know, most women do pretty well with this.  Would you like to talk with someone?
Not particularly.
Most women do pretty well with this.  I've wondered, once in awhile, what that meant.  Or why, once again, I was subjected to a comparison to those mythical "most women."  Most women just want it gone.  Most women follow their doctors' recommendations immediately.  Most women don't experience this type of pain.  Most women are grateful for their foobs (fake boobs.) 
Of course, I understand.  The doctors really are in the business of healing, and they project their own hopes - women will do well with disfigurement and loss and pain ~ and two years later continuing tenderness and discomfort and mystifying challenges related to getting dressed ~ because those are better than the other options.  As indeed, they are.
Most women do pretty well with this.  Let's see.  I have loved and cared for my family, I was ordained and have pastored a church for two years, I have done all kinds of speaking and writing on behalf of suicide prevention, and I.went.to.Chicago, which may have taken more guts than all the rest of it  . . .  do I really have to look in the mirror at the mess on my upper torso and say "Great!", too?
Nah.  I don't. 


  1. I asked a friend what she thought about her fake boobs and when she bared her soul, she really didn't like them. But I'm sure she would never had said anything to her doc. For all their experience, I think most of them are part of the group that doesn't really know.

    1. The docs part of the group that doesn't really know.