Thursday, January 12, 2012

No. No it's not.

Not only have I heard this, but I've said it ... "But hey, it's like getting a free boob job." But here's the truth: No. No it's not. Not at all.

Here's the thing, I say it to lighten the topic. Cancer can be heavy and sad and full of so much bad things. Chemo isn't fun, radiation isn't fun, surgery isn't fun. It's hard. It's difficult. And I think we naturally look to find the bright spots. And in this case the bright spot is a new set of perky boobs (although, not for everyone who goes through this journey. Some can not do reconstruction for medical reasons. Some chose not to because they simply don't want to. I bring this up, because I think it's simply assumed reconstruction will happen and we need to stop making this assumption. But I digress).

This seems like a good trade-off on face value. And truly, I've had people make this comment with a hint of jealousy in their voice. But trust me, there is nothing to be jealous of. And also? It's not free. And oh yeah, it's nothing like a boob job.

Do you know how much cancer has cost? Do you know how many people go into bankruptcy each and every year because of medical issues? And that doesn't even factor in the time cost or the emotional cost. Trust me. It's not free. It's high. It would have been much much cheaper to go to the plastic surgeon a year ago and get surgery. Truly. Even without insurance coverage.

Also. It's not like a boob job. It's not cosmetic. As one friend recently said, it's like being amputated and then undergoing surgery to put in a permanent prosthesis. After my mastectomy I was in the hospital for 5 days. I was on pain killers for quite a few more. I had to exercise to get range of motion back as my arms were essentially useless right after surgery. It took roughly 6 weeks for my range of motion to come back fully. {Some women never get range of motion back 100%}.

Then there are the expanders. Which are put in behind the muscle and skin. And then filled. Do you know what's it like to stretch the muscle and skin out? At first it wasn't so bad. Towards the end it is quite painful. And uncomfortable. And if you get through that process unscathed (meaning the expanders don't pop or leak, or you don't get an infection) then you get to have another surgery where you get final implants. And have you read all the news stories about the issues with implants these days? I've tried to ignore it, but the stories are there. And this is only if you are lucky enough to be able to get expanders put in.

Some women have to have skin moved from either the stomach area or the back area to cover their chest area. More surgery. More recovery.

I know. It's not fun to think about. It's much better to frame it as "a free boob job!" It's happier. It's more fun. Trust me, I get it (remember, I told you even I've said it) But it's also not authentic and so far from the truth. And I think we need to acknowledge that.


  1. I sure as heck hope nobody really THINKS that! I wish with all my heart that the scans they did for you last year were negative and that none of you had to go through all of the pain and heartache you've endured...

  2. Medical treatment is so expensive! (I work in a hospital and can't afford it) That boob sure wasn't free.

  3. Hey You,
    You already know how I feel about hearing about my free boob job.... or my "good cancer" ..... You nailed it. If I NEVER hear that again, it's not a moment too soon. Alas, I know I shall and I know many others who are newly diagnosed are going to have to listen to the same thing. Thanks for being my buddy! I cherish you.. xo

  4. I LOATHE it when people say that kind of stuff to me too


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