Friday, January 06, 2012

Maybe I'm crazy ....

maybe I'm not. Either way, I have a lot going on in this head of mine these days, and a lot of it is trying to get out, so I'm letting it out.

When I had my surgery on December 23, the hardest part was not the surgery itself. It's not the recovery (that is still happening) or the physical pain (that is still lingering). No. The hardest part was knowing I'd come out of surgery with my right foob (fake boob that was put in during the original surgery in May) gone. I felt like there was no time to prepare - not physically, not mentally. One minute it was in my body, and the next they were saying "we need to pull it out." And yes, we did need to pull it out. But that hasn't helped me in the emotional department one bit.

My first gut-wrenching moment came Christmas morning. You see, every year we all get new Christmas jammies. It's our thing. And so I went to put on my new pajamas and instantly had to take the shirt off. Here's the thing ... the top was fitted. And I was missing a boob (and still had the drain and the wrap thing they bandaged me with for surgery). So basically, I looked, ridiculous and strange and not exactly the look I was going for. And I had to instead wear one of husband's t-shirts. And then a few days later, we had a party to go to. And I had the same issue. Most of my tops are fitted. So I went in a large t-shirt and put a bulky sweater over because thankfully those hide lots of things.

But, still. It's hard. It's hard to feel like you can't wear your own clothes without looking strange. It's hard to feel good inside when your outside has changed. And let me add in here - I'm surrounded by wonderful people who assure me I'm still beautiful. That's nice to hear. But the truth is, in some moments, it's just not enough. I wish it were. I also know that I am much, much more than how I look on the outside. But that's really easy to think when the outside is looking fine. It's much harder when you are struggling with how you look on the outside.

Today I'm feeling a bit brave though. Last night I asked Eric to take some pictures of me (clothed though - I'm not that brave) to try to give you all an understanding.

This is how I look right now:

And from the side:

 This is me without a right breast. {although I'm still slightly swollen from surgery}. This is how most of my clothes fit me. And I do realize it's not like I've got a basketball on one side and nothing on the other - but still. It's there. And it's obvious. Contrast this picture with the next one:

This is what I look like when I have two breasts. Do you see the difference? Well, I mean, of course you can see the difference. I suppose in my mind the difference is probably enhanced about 158 thousand times. And so it might not feel as dramatic to you as it does to me when I look at myself.

So, here's how we got the second picture. Last week, Eric took me to a store to get "post-mastectomy garments" which is simply a fancy way to say bras that have pockets to hold a breast forms. This is my new right foob for now:

It's stuffed with a fiberfill, that I can add to or take out as needed. It's kind of strange though. I have to adjust things every time I put the bra on. {Oh, here's where I interject, bras are SO uncomfortable. I had no idea. When you are used to wearing them they aren't. But I haven't worn one since May 18. I am very not used to them now}. Anyway, this has helped me feel a bit better. At least I can go out in public and not feel like everyone is going to stare at me.

But it's still hard. It's still a lot to wrap my mind around. I'm still struggling with this issue. I think I will probably struggle with it until the day reconstruction is finished. Which, is the bright spot in all of this. Reconstruction will happen. We may have to use a different option than the original plan. The doctor isn't sure yet. We can't talk about anything until I am fully healed. And as you can imagine: radiation, infection, surgery - I have a lot of healing left to do. Okay, so I have a lot of healing to do both physically and emotionally. I'm just thankful I also have a lot of support to help me through this healing process. Because some days, this healing feels as difficult as treatment.


  1. Anonymous1:10 AM

    You are so strong and brave. I am keeping you in my thoughts and prayers.

  2. You are brave and beautiful. Thank you so much for sharing how strong you are.

  3. I can't say that I know what you are going through, because I don't. I am glad that you are writing honestly about how you feel, so others who are going through this know they aren't alone.

  4. I wish I could give you some of mine, as an option, you know?? I wish this part were easier. It's hell.

    FWIW - bras suck after scars. But you can and will find comfortable ones. I highly recommend Tina's Closet in Lisle - it's a bit of a drive, but she'll custom fit bras, put in comfort pads, etc. My mother had to get ones with a gel pad attached so her pacemaker doesn't rub on the strap. Tina will do this. She's who made my bras pre-reduction, and she's who helps me find the ones that don't bother my scars.

    ANYWAY - aside from that - it really is hard to deal with changes and surgeries on our chests. It's a womanly part. It's part of who we've been since we passed into womanhood. Don't beat yourself up for feeling awkward or even MAD about this. I know you are in the hands of a wonderful plastic surgeon, and with this surgeon you WILL find the right solution, one that won't hurt. <3

  5. One day at a time Brandie, one day at a time

  6. Brandie,
    Thank you for being so transparent to so many people. People need to know it is okay to talk about cancer. It is not a dirty word like before when my dad had it. People do not need to suffer through this in silence but they need to talk and work together to come up with ways to cope and also a cure!!! I love you and please know you are being prayed for.

  7. Well I suck. How did I not know this was going on? I totally get your issues, Brandie. I'm so hypersensitive about everything I wear and how I look in it. I can only imagine this, though I will assure you that yes, you are seeing it 158 thousand times more than anyone else. You are still beautiful, and you always will be. Inside AND out.

  8. Carinda12:42 AM

    So enjoyed reading this post. I lost my right boob on the 8th dec. Then I got an infection. Then they took the "foob" ( what a great word!) back out so now I'm regrouping for the recon. Up to 8 surgeries in 12 weeks now so taking my time. Second time lucky ?

  9. I'm sorry, Brandie that this is ongoing and ongoing for you. That you can't get a little break from having to deal with your boobs. I KNOW that you are not a vain person. You're not. You have dealt with this far better than most women would, I believe.

    I will interject to remind you that the people of value and worth will NOT care how you look. 1 boob or 2; man-made or not.

    We love you for your heart.

  10. I know what you are going through but for me it's the left breast - quite a pair we'd make!
    My mastectomy happened in 2009, chemo 2009-2010, radiation 2010, tissue expander 2010, first reconstruction 2011 and finally "tweaking" reconstruction 2012.
    I know it's hard when you're in the trenches and fighting the daily battle of this disease but eventually you will come out the over side and then it will seem like another chapter in your life. Your next chapter is coming and it will be fabulous because of what you have endured.
    Please remember you are more than a breast cancer survivor - you are a breast cancer warrior!


Seeing your comments makes me smile! Thank you so much =)