‘Is it weird not to have your own breasts?’ is something I was asked following my mastectomy and different stages of the journey warranted different responses. Initially, I cannot deny, these alien ice blocks did not feel a part of me. They got in the way, I could not move my arms, they looked like they’d lost a bar fight and there were gigantic horizontal plasters over the incisions that went straight across my both breasts. Later in recovery, after the pain and swelling had subsided I had the task of getting used to these ‘objects’. You wouldn’t imagine how many times a day the inside of your arm brushes your breast without you noticing or how folding your arms was such a simple action. Well, they got in the way. When I moved, my arms would hit these foreign bricks sticking out my front, folding my arms didn’t feel the same, there was no squish! However, as the weeks past these actions became simple once more. It is amazing how you adjust and quickly forget that there was ever a change in how you do something the first place.
Every woman is different in how they feel after their mastectomy. For me, overtime I came to accept the changes to what I look like. It is a change but on a day to day basis I don’t think about the fact that they are not my own boobs. The decision to have them removed was to potentially save my life in the future and I would not change my mind for one second. It was the right thing to do.
However, life is not always rosy and the although it was the right thing to do there are sometimes, even now 18 months on I catch myself in the mirror and think, ‘these do not look normal’ or ‘can you see the waves in my skin through my sheer top’. It is something that could easily consume you, if you let it. I am not like that, I try and always stay positive but I am only human and sometimes yes, ‘it is weird not to have my own breasts’. If I tense my left chest muscle my whole boob moves and as much as I joke about it being a party trick, it does freak me out. Men spend hours in the gym working on their peck muscles to develop such a skill, why?! There is also the challenge of accepting something you cannot feel. The great game of poking my sides and chest to determine where I still have sensation. There is a clear line where sensation stops, I tested it with a remote control for the television. Tap (gently) around the area to see where I can feel and where I cannot. Ever looked at something I know you are being touched by cannot feel it, a very strange experience.
Is it weird not to have my own boobs, absolutely but my mastectomy changed my life, for the better. They feel part of me now however like all things, my perception is I have good days and bad about my new boobs, from bikini confident to swimming in a t-shirt.