Are you proud of your body? Some people like their legs, some like their bums, but me? I like my boobs, I have great boobs. Growing up I was tall, slim with long flowing red hair and I was also blessed with great boobs. I was athletic and played a lot of netball, umpired netball, played tennis, and was a bit of a gun at the old triple jump. I’m guessing my long legs had something to do with that one. I took pride in how I looked, always had my head held high and I walked with confidence. I kept myself in good shape and I was proud of my body, how I looked and who I was.
These great boobs of mine were perky, c cup-sized and they sat up on their own. I didn’t need to wear a bra (but I did) as they knew where they should be and stayed put. Even after breastfeeding both of my girls, my boobs were still up there.
Fast forward a year or so to when I was diagnosed with breast cancer. Hearing those words ‘you have cancer’ floored me but it never entered my mind that by having breast cancer I would lose one of my most treasured possessions, my boob. At first, I had a lumpectomy where they attempted to remove the cancerous lump and this wasn’t successful, they didn’t get it all. I then opted for a complete mastectomy of my right breast. I wanted the cancer gone and a mastectomy was my best chance at doing that.
It didn’t hit me until I was walking towards the operating theatre in my bum-freezing hospital gown that I was going to have one breast. I had my head in survival mode and never thought twice about the mastectomy. All I had in my head was that they were getting rid of the cancer, without fully comprehending how I was going to come out on the other side. I was about to have my pride and joy chopped off. My great boobs were about to be separated and not be so great anymore.
People often ask me if I felt less of a woman for only having one breast. This question annoys the hell out of me! Not once did I feel less feminine, boobs aren’t what defines a woman. I often answer that question with another question “If you had cancer in your leg and the only option you had was to amputate your leg, would you feel less human?” I did what I had to do to survive and beat cancer, and if that meant one less breast then that was what was going to happen. I’m no less of a woman for only having one.
My self-confidence took a nosedive after the mastectomy, I no longer stood as tall as I did, my long flowing hair turned into a nude nut bald head because of treatment and my great boobs became one lonely soldier. My outlook on myself changed but I decided after chemo I didn’t want to be that person who dwelled on the negative. I had six months of chemotherapy and radiation to play victim to this disease but I took the reins back and turned every negative into a positive.
Yes, I lost a boob. Yes, my great boobs were no longer but I was alive. Don’t get me wrong I missed that boob. Simple things like shopping were no longer fun as I had to work around a prosthetic boob (whom I fondly referred to as ‘Poppy’ as she popped in and out of my bra), but I was grateful that I was still here and that I could shop. Swimming was non-existent as I didn’t want anyone to see that I had one breast, but instead of feeling uneasy about it, I set about researching to find a way around that. I found a lady who made bathers for mastectomy patients. After all, I was still here to swim even if it did make me step out of my comfort zone.
I dreamt big and I worked hard at allowing myself to once again have great boobs. Eight long years after the mastectomy I lined up for another one, only this time it was totally on my terms. No cancer was in sight, I chose to put my girls back together. It wasn’t an easy choice, and not one that was made lightly. I had to conquer the anxiety about lining up again for surgery, and I had to find a positive in all the negative that had managed to creep into my life. I had a mastectomy and all remaining breast tissue removed followed by reconstruction. I didn’t feel like less of a woman with one breast, I felt half done, something was missing. I wasn’t complete and I needed to finish this chapter of my life, I needed to feel proud of my body again.
After reconstruction, and the hard recovery I learnt how to stand tall again, I walked with confidence, I had my long flowing hair back and I had a set of perky boobs. Poppy was put into retirement and life seemed to be back to some sort of normality. So to the people that have asked me if I feel like half a woman, the answer is no and I never did, I was just lopsided for a while! I now puff my chest out, hold my head high and feel like I know my place in the world. I’m proud of my body again, even if it did let me down.