Making our own decisions is empowering after facing the trauma of breast cancer.
Bonnie Annis is a breast cancer survivor, diagnosed in 2014 with stage 2b invasive ductal carcinoma with metastasis to the lymph nodes. She is an avid photographer, freelance writer/blogger, wife, mother and grandmother.
Having both breasts removed was extremely difficult for me, but amid all the negatives accompanying breast cancer and surgery, there have also been some positives. I’d like to share one of those positives with you today. I’m hoping I won’t offend anyone. I’m sharing this with my tongue in my cheek because, after all, we do need to look for some humor along our journey, don’t we? I don’t know about you, but I get tired of all the seriousness of breast cancer in my life. I’ve started looking for some more lighthearted moments and today, I found one!
It was time for my check up with the oncologist. I made my appointment for the earliest part of the day because that’s when I’m most energetic. I wandered into my walk-in closet and selected the clothing I’d wear to the appointment. I tried to find something lightweight and cool. After making my selections, I laid my clothing across the bed while I went into the bathroom to shower. I dried off and prepared to dress. Since having my surgery, I always start with the lower half of my body, because the top half usually takes a little more time to get ready. Wiggling into my pants, I began to think about the day. I wondered what the doc would have to say and what tests he might run. Finally, the bottom half of me was ready and I shifted my focus to the top half. I’d already picked out a blouse, but hadn’t chosen a bra or prostheses yet. Smiling to myself, I suddenly realized I had the power to choose, and not just the power to choose a bra, but the power to choose the size of my boobs!
The insurance company allows me to have a new set of prostheses every two years. When I chose my first pair of prostheses, I chose the smallest pair available. I’d always been small-chested, so why would I even think about choosing a bigger size? It would be unnatural … well, sort of. The fitter at the boutique advised me to remember that my scars were fresh and my wounds were tender. She thought my choice of a smaller, lighter weight boobs was best. I was proud of my little size A fake boobs and took them home with care instructions. The majority of the time, I didn’t even wear them unless I was going out in public. It was more comfortable to remain flat chested at home. Two years passed quickly, and I got excited when I found it was time for an upgrade. I returned to the boutique and asked the fitter to help me find a more substantial set of boobs. She asked my preference, B, C, D. I thought for a few minutes and then picked a happy medium. I’d always wanted to be a C, and now was my chance. After trying them on for size, I was overjoyed and left with my new bosoms.
In my chest of drawers were two sets of pink, zippered cases. Inside each of these little round cases were my prostheses. In the top drawer were my little size A boobs. In the drawer just below it were my size C’s. Decisions, decisions. Did I want to wear the smaller, more comfortable boobs or did I want to really stand out and wear the heavier size C’s? I had the power to choose! I opened the cases for both sets of prostheses and laid them on my bed. I pulled out a size A bra and a size C bra. I stood staring at the boobs for a few minutes and decided that today was a size C day! As I slid my C boobs into the bra, a big ol’ cheshire grin crossed my face. Cancer had taken so much away from me, but now I got to choose. It was a really little choice, but it was mine nonetheless.
It’s so hard to deal with a post-cancer body image. The scars and after-effects of chemo and radiation leave such permanent marks on our bodies. Just knowing we have a tiny bit of power to choose how we look is amazing! I’m so thankful I was able to choose between two different sizes of prostheses. And believe me, there’s a huge difference between size A and size C prostheses! HUGE!