I was sitting on my friend’s porch soaking in her infectious energy. We’d talked of this and that. Important things. Frivolous things. Truths and confidences shared. Finally she asks her son to leave so she can speak to me privately. I can’t imagine the nature of her question, I’m an open book.
She trips over her question, stopping and starting. She apologizes and closes her mouth. Finally ” Why don’t you want a reconstruction? I think I’m too vain. I don’t understand.”
I nearly burst into tears with relief. Thank you. Thank you for asking. Thank you for allowing me to talk about it. My breast is gone. It’s devastating every single day, every time I look down. Thank you so much for looking me in the eye and acknowledging this difficult thing no-one wants to talk about.
So why wouldn’t I want to straighten out this lopsided thing?
Several reasons. None of them any more or less important than the other. They all jumble together to form my answer.
First of all (and know there may or may not be a second or third of all. I like to give this disclaimer) I am vain. I really am. Don’t think for one instance that I don’t want to look down and see cleavage because I’d sell my soul to have my breast back. But I won’t ever have my breast back. So time marches on and I must accept my new body.
Acceptance. I want my children to look at my imperfect body and see acceptance for myself, for them. How can I expect to teach them that the outside doesn’t matter when I don’t accept my outsides?
Authenticity. I have stretch marks and scars and gray hair. I have wrinkles and cellulite and varicose veins. This is me. I’m trying to live authentically in the body that I have. When the push up bra and control top pantyhose fall to the floor and I’m left with just me, I don’t want to look down at my body and see something that isn’t me.
Augmentation and reconstruction are not the same thing. One is an improvement on an existing breast. The other is literally creating something out of nothing. These are two very different surgeries. At the end of augmentation you have two similar breasts that are simply larger or smaller than before. At the end of reconstruction you have a lump of silicone or saline under skin that has numerous scars and no nipple next to a breast that does not look similar at all. Depending on the surgery and the spacers used, you also have another area of your body that’s used to harvest extra skin.
Pain. No, I won’t die. But stripping a J tube isn’t something I ever want to experience again. And implants need to be monitored and possibly replaced.
The recurrence of cancer against the chest wall behind the implant and going undetected isn’t something I’m willing to risk. Not after I’ve come this far.
I fully support and encourage women to do the thing that makes them happy. I know women with augmentations. I know women with reconstructions. I know women with prosthetics. Whatever you need to do to grab your happy, do it. I’m not judging.
I have one breast and one elephant.
This is my why.