What will I do without my breast?
Breast cancer. What’s that? ‘Lumpectomy’ and ‘mastectomy’ had to be added to my vocabulary. I had no idea what they meant, let alone know what the effects would be. Unless you have been here it is hard to imagine what the pain is that one can go through to find the right words to share this experience.
From my perspective, it was not pleasant. I valued my breast, and was proud of my appearance. I told the gentleman I was seeing to move on, that he would be much better with a whole woman – I would no longer be whole.
His words back to me were that it was not my breast he was there for, it was my mind he was more interested in. We are still together more than 10 years on.
His comment sent me thinking ‘What do I want for me? What will I do without a breast?’ It wasn’t until I drew my breast to scale on paper that I realised to go with a mastectomy was the only way to survive.
Did it affect me on any levels? Yes! It wasn’t until recently in a moment of intimacy that I was totally comfortable for my partner to touch me in that area. He had offered numerous times, but it was a no-go zone – it’s a very personal individual experience.
Losing my breast took me months to come to terms with. The sight of no breast really dug deep inside. I suffered in silence many times. Finding a breast formation that suited me was my next challenge in life. It was 10 years before I found something I really appreciated – a prosthesis.
Now I am woman again!
First published in The Beacon, issue 77, Summer 2016