Beside the “what’s your prognosis?” which I’ve never responded to with a straight answer, particularly if the person is an acquaintance (those are the people who are usually asking), I got an interesting (understatement) comment the other day.
Aug. 6 is my upcoming surgery — modified radical mastectomy of my left breast. Understandably, I’m a bit anxious about this. Anxious, and knowing that things will be different for all of us in my family with our reactions to this physical change in me. I used to be cavalier, flip about this. “Oh, it’s just a breast. I don’t need it. I never used it for the purposes for which it was intended anyways.” But it’s a part of me and the closer I get the surgery, the more I understand that this is going to be difficult emotionally. Of course it has to come off. The surgeon outlined all the reasons why a modified radical mastectomy would be the best surgery for me and then said that I could opt for a lumpectomy and I said that I would be scared the rest of my life if I got a lumpectomy. It doesn’t make sense for a woman with Inflammatory Breast Cancer to get a lumpectomy because the cancer will just start growing again. Maybe he just wanted me to feel like I had a say in the matter; I don’t know. I do know that this breast has to come off for my health.
But I digress.
I told one co-worker, #1., that my surgeon said that after about a month they can send me to a place to get a prosthesis, and that I certainly wasn’t coming back to work without said prosthesis. She completely understood. I mentioned that to another co-worker, #2., and she said that “nobody would notice” if I came back to work without a prosthesis.
*blink* . . . . . . *WHA??!*. . . . *HUH?!!*
Now, I’m no Dolly Parton (thankfully), and I’m sure I’m not the bustiest woman on our campus, but I am a solid size C, and I really think people would notice and I would feel incredibly uncomfortable about being Judy One Boob back on the job.
I kept saying to her that I thought that would be the case if I were a cup size A or B, but that since I’m not, I’m pretty sure that people would notice. I didn’t, however, ask what she was smoking or tell her she needed to get her eyes checked or just let out with a “Oh, h@ll, you are just full of sh*t, once again!”, so I think I handled it pretty well.
*sigh* Judy One Boob.
I always thought I’d have a cooler Indian name, but if this is the way it is, this is the way it is.
I’m too scared to dance with wolves anyways.
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Perhaps co-worker #2 was trying to tell you that you are NOT your breasts, whether you have 1 or 2 (or 3, for that matter). Perhaps she was trying to tell you, in her admittedly clumsy way, that what she and your co-workers care about is you.
I have no doubt, though, that people WOULD notice.
Good luck to you, Judy.
Oh Honey. When I had my port placed the nurse, anesthesiologist and surgeon all asked which breast I’d had removed as I lay there in nothing but my hospital gown. By the time the surgeon asked I was highly annoyed. I realize they were just making sure I knew what was going on, but still! Couldn’t they tell?? Of course, I was a small B. But still!!
Judy One Boob has a noble ring to it. I was known as Uniboob. Not so noble. Sounds a bit like Unibomber.
All levity aside, you’re right in knowing this is going to change things. Your anxiety is very understandable. I do offer you a little hope, though. While things will never be the same and you will no doubt have moments of profound sadness, it will get better. I promise.
I had my mastectomies yesterday. The anticipation is far worse than anything else. I am doing well. Loving the pain meds but am not in too much pain. Trying not to type too much but love my cyberspace. You will do well. Keep busy…..do things you love to do. You will be in my thoughts and prayers.
You know, the anticipation really is the worst part. I hated that I had to have a mastectomy (I’d spent the past 8 years breastfeeding, and my breast was really a big part of my life), but I was shocked at how quickly I adjusted to having just one. In no time I was going out in public with just one breast, and the only place I wear my prosthesis is at work. Of course, then I had radiation and I couldn’t wear it at all, so I was “One Boob Betty” at work, too. LOL The point is, you adjust, and you get on with your life.
I will never forget my terror as I lay on the operating table before my mastectomy. And my relief when it was all over. The anticipation was absolutely the worst part. My heart goes out to you.
I have gone from someone who was unsure about whether to mention my mastectomy on my blog (I have many times) to someone who does not wear a prosthesis. This change occurred gradually, and is mostly due to the fact that I find my prosthesis to be incredibly uncomfortable. I was also a D cup before (and still am on one side 😉 and I think far less about whether people notice and what they think then I would have thought possible. And I do find that in some clothes, or with shawls scarves, people don’t notice at all.
But each of us, when it comes to our treatment and how much we reveal about our cancer, is a different person and we need to make the choices that are right for us.
That’s where your co-worker went wrong, IMHO. It doesn’t matter whether anyone would “notice.” What matters is whether or not you would be comfortable.
I’m holding you on my heart 🙂 I’ll be thinking of you. Good luck!! You’re going to do amazing, and heal fast 🙂
Thanks so much, everyone. That helps so much.
“Judy One Boob” — LOL (I loved that movie too!)
I totally agree with Laurie that the important thing is defining your own comfort zone and then doing what you need to do to feel comfortable.
Btw, if you know that you want to do reconstruction, and have not already asked, I suggest asking your surgeon about performing a skin-sparing mastectomy.