Sunday, January 25, 2015

Boobs...a love-hate relationship

Boobs, breasts, tits, jugs, etc.  so many names for the same balloon of fat body part.  The infatuation with breasts has been around since Adam and Eve.  Hollywood has made millions, trillions even, doctors have made millions, Victoria Secrets is considered the guru in the bra industry. 

I have always had a love-hate relationship with my breasts.  In my twenty's I did some modeling and tried to get into acting, but because my bra size was 38DD most of the work that my agency was getting for me was too risqué for my comfort zone and I didn't want to be defined by my breasts. Don't get me wrong, I am not a prude, and I didn't hide my breasts, they were a fact of my life and my grandmother always said, "If you got it, flaunt it" so I dressed my breasts in a way that I was comfortable, just right to get me out of any speeding ticket that I may happen upon, but covered enough so I didn't look like a prostitute. 

Growing up and living in Orange County, California about an hour and a half from Hollywood I was proud that my DD's were real.  In a time when it seemed everyone was getting implants for bigger breasts every day and going to high school with girls whose graduation gifts were either a new BMW or implants I was quite proud of my all natural girls.  However finding clothes that fit right was a pain.  I have to have button down shirts altered because of my breasts, or put up with always having to wear a tank top or camisole under button down shirts and never being able to button them all the way up, but having to leave an open shirt.  I have tank tops in just about every color to go under button down shirts.

When I lost my right breast to breast cancer the thought of karma catching up to me did cross my mind, more than once.  Losing my right breast was a necessity, I had no other option, believe me I tried convincing the doctor otherwise, but in the end chopping it off was better for my survival.

 I was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2011 at the age of 35 and by this time my breasts were an E or DDD.  Happily married with 2 beautiful children my world crashed down when I heard the words, "You have cancer."  And after dealing with breast cancer for 4 years now, all I have to say is, "boobs are more trouble then they are worth!"  Seriously!  I have had 3 reconstructive surgeries trying to get my body back to a "normal" state with my breasts.  Pain in the butt!!  And I am STILL lopsided and have to have at least one more operation to even out my breasts.  I haven't been able to wear a regular wire cupped bra in almost 4 years, but have been living in bra tops, sports bras and the like because of my physical irregularity.  Such a pain.  I know I shouldn't complain, but then again I have every right.  For about 18 months I had to live with one breast and at an E this was VERY noticeable and made me feel like a circus freak.  I was specially fitted for a prosthetic breast, and can I just say that is a whole different experience that feels very weird and surreal when you are going through it.  I tried to make light of this new and weird experience as part of my way of coping with it, but in my heart I was bothered by it all and had a hard time getting past the "Frankenstein" feeling and way of looking at myself.  Because of the pain and scaring from radiation on my right side of my chest I rarely wore the prosthetic breast and most of the time I would just stuff the "pillow" breast into my bra or top when going out in public as it was much more comfortable.  By the end of the 18 months I would go to the store without using any stuffing or prosthesis.  But I am much happier now that I have two breasts again, I feel more "normal".  My breast reconstruction surgery to build me a new breast was 10 hours long, and required 4-5 days in the hospital.  There was the same worry of rejection similar to organ transplant, as my surgery consisted of taking belly fat and skin and creating a new breast, what was special about this was my doctor transplanted blood vessels from my belly into the new breast and connecting through the chest into blood vessels in my sternum.  This was a crazy surgery and only 100 doctors in the country are able to do this, I was lucky mine was one of them and we were incredibly successful.  The key to this blood vessel and breast transplant working is in the acceptance of both the tissue and blood flow.  There was risk that my body would reject this and we would have to either start all over again or go another route.  The weirdest thing was having my doctor and his team stand around my bed every single hour to place a Doppler on the transplant and listen for heart beats.  Yes that's right I said heart beats, there were 3 major sites where the blood vessel transplants were that the doctor would listen for the heart beats which indicated successful blood flow.  If there wasn't blood flow then the new breast would die.  It was so weird hearing "heart beats" coming from my breast, like having triplets in the womb and I would crack a joke about my alien breast and it's heart beats.  I don't know if it was the morphine or my off beat sense of humor but I got through it and I have a real boob now that jiggles and everything. 
That was over a year ago and since then I have had two more surgeries trying to achieve "normal" alignment and I am still about 1/2 a cup size in difference and I still find myself stuffing my bra to achieve "normal" breasts.  When will this end?  I just want to be normal, what ever that means, and what ever "normal" can be for me living with breast cancer.  After all the scars, all the damage, all the pain and the suffering from cancer treatments and medications I have had to endure over the past 4 years I think a decent body is not too much to ask for.

Sometimes I just want to tell young girls not to put so much effort into their breasts on display and making a big deal about implants and push-up bras, that boobs are more trouble then they are worth and take care of them, because one day they might just turn on you!