5/30/19

And so this week’s moment of happiness despite the news.

I finally did something I’ve been thinking about doing for a while. It took me almost two years, with the last four months containing three appointments, two cancellations, and…today. Today, I did it.

No, I didn’t get a tattoo or a new piercing.

I went boob shopping.

I’ve debated what I would consider my “cancerversary”, the day I became free of breast cancer. To be exact, Stage 2 Invasive Ductal Carcinoma. I’ve finally decided on July 25th (2017) as that was the day of my surgery, the day cancer was carved out of my body. I considered the day I finished radiation, September 25th, 2017. But I went back today into my Today’s Moments, and on the day of surgery, I wrote:

One of my ABCD mentors (After Breast Cancer Diagnosis) just texted me and said in all caps, THE CANCER HAS LEFT YOUR BODY! Shortly after, my other ABCD mentor texted and said, You are now over that first mountain and that beautiful valley is still ahead.

I did not have a full mastectomy, but a partial. My doctors use that term because of the amount of my breast that was taken. When the surgeon sliced me open, she found that the tumor was larger than she anticipated. When I woke up in recovery, I was told that a sizable chunk of me was gone. Then, a year and two months later, there was a sudden infection in the surgical site, requiring a drain to be inserted and six weeks of powerful antibiotics. The result was that my breast, already deformed, collapsed on one side.

Naked, it left me wanting to not be naked. Dressed, I felt increasingly self-conscious because I was obviously lopsided. I found myself wearing looser and looser shirts and consistently crossing my right arm over my breast.

In February, I made an appointment at the Cancer Center’s in-house store that carried prosthetics and mastectomy bras. The day of, I canceled. A couple months later, I did it again. A couple weeks ago, they called me to see if I wanted to reschedule. I said yes.

I had great trouble with this. It feels vain to me. It feels shallow. But dammit, every morning when I get dressed, every time I go shopping, every time I pass a mirror, my eyes zero in on that sad little right breast, no longer at all what it used to be.

This morning, I considered canceling the appointment. I had things to do. I always have things to do. But then I got in my car and went. As requested, I wore a snug-fitting white shirt. A favorite that was no longer a favorite because of that sad breast.

In a comfortable room in the little store, the nicest woman took care of me. She measured me and then measured me again. She didn’t react in any way to how my breast looked.  I kept my right arm crossed over it until she had me lift my arms to my sides and then, I closed my eyes.

By then, I’d told myself, You’ll just try it on. Then you’ll say no. You can do this. You can accept who you are now. This is who you are.

She brought in three styles of bras. Each had a special little pocket sewn to the inside of the right cup. Then, she opened a little pink zippered cloth box and she pulled out the fake breast. It was shiny and smooth and I watched as she slid it into the pocket. I put the bra on and then together, we maneuvered the prosthetic into place. I watched in amazement as the bra filled out…with what looked like me. Then she had me pull on my shirt. I raised my eyes to the mirror.

And there I was. There I was.

Just as I was on June 19th, 2017, the day before the mammogram went south. As I was through ultrasounds, biopsies and an MRI. As I was on July 25th, 2017, in the morning, before I was rolled into surgery.

Oh, there I was.

I admit it. I cried. And I also wished I hadn’t waited for so long. If it’s vain, if it’s shallow, I don’t care. I have never been so relieved to see someone I know in the mirror.

I drove home, wearing the new bra and my right breast’s new best friend. Ever try driving while continually glancing down to admire symmetry?

I had an Elton John CD playing and the song Electricity came on. And I heard these lyrics:

I suppose it’s like forgetting

Losing who you are

And at the same time

Something makes you whole

Yeah. It’s just like that.

And yes, that helps. Despite. Anyway.

Good things come in little pink boxes.

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