It’s been five and a half years since my mastectomy without recostruction. I’ve practically forgotten what it was like to have tender breasts once a month, or pay attention to cleavage– make sure it’s there when needed and not when it’s not. I’m chill about it now, but this is very recent.
I admit that I had a lot of anger up until I became pregnant. I was stuck in anger. In a big way, too. I can be the most confident woman but put a naked girl in front of me (movie, etc.) while my partner is nearby and I go from 0 to 60 in the blink of an eye! I know why I was angry: doctors were reluctant to perform ANY type of reconstruction on me due to the radiation damage to my skin. It meant a 70 percent chance of complications if I went ahead with it. What I wasn’t prepared for was how long I would be stuck in the “anger” phase of my grieving.
When I got pregnant I realized I won’t be breast feeding. It didn’t bother me so much. I may have had a symbolic cry to grieve over that aspect. It’s after my daughter was born and I was immersed in mommy world that I believe the transformation happened. I naturally drifted out of cancer/mastectomy world, which consumed me more than I care to admit, and into mommy world where I was called to duty. Sure, in mommy world I had even more constant reminders of breasts. A day didn’t go by without being asked by other moms if I’m breast feeding or watching other moms breast feed. But breasts were now de-sexualized. I was finally seeing them for what they were made for and not from a man’s perspective, which is how I viewed them constantly.
Lately the dreams have stopped– those of self-regenerating breasts; dreaming of waking up and, surprise: breasts! or how the surgeons “left some” behind. My preoccupation with my breastlesness is almost non-existent, as in weeks go by and I don’t think about it. I proudly walk around naked in front of my baby girl, who is almost two, and it feels great to teach her pride in her body.
In order to survive I may have removed a number of body parts and organs that made me a woman, but I’ll never go back to thinking that less of me is a lesser me.
I’m beautiful in my way
‘cuz G-D makes no mistakes
I’m on the right track baby,
I was born this way
…I was born to survive
(Lady Gaga, Born This Way)