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.
Desperate times call for desperate measures and a little creativity, too. This lighthearted look at fake breasts may make you smile.
My quest for the perfect breast substitute continues. "What?" you say. "Didn't I read in previous posts that you've had both your breasts removed?" Why yes, I have and while I'm perfectly comfortable going flat at home, I'm still not to that point when going out in public.
The dilemma revolves around my prostheses. They're heavy. Not only to do they cause strain on my shoulders and back, they cause the band of my bra to push into my tender scar.
The only perfect breast I'm aware of is made of flesh and blood. Certainly, silicone breasts are a close second, but any woman who's lost her breasts will tell you silicone isn't the same. Breasts formed from fatty tissue taken from other areas of the body are also a close replica of a real breast, but unless you've received reconstruction from a very skilled surgeon, chances are those nerve endings won't work. Even with all the wonderful medical advancements, breast replacements just aren't good enough. And unless scientists figure out a way to successfully perform breast transplants, women like me are out of luck. (By the way, even if they did figure out how to transplant a breast, where would they get the donors? Tissue dies quickly and unless harvested immediately after death, it would be futile.)
My quest for a perfect breast replacement has taken me all over the internet. Some of the ideas I've come across for making your own prostheses have been hilarious. One person suggested water balloons filled with water. How impractical! With my luck, I'd spring a leak during a hug and dampen my friend's clothing. Then, I'd have to explain why I had a water balloon in my bra. Strike one.
Another person suggested using birdseed and an old panty hose. The idea was to cut both ends from a leg of pantyhose, fill it to the desired weight with birdseed, and then knot both ends. This was a pretty good solution, but I got to thinking. During the summer months, I sweat. Have you ever seen what happens to damp birdseed? It sprouts and then it begins to mold. Wearing living organisms against my chest was not appealing. Strike two.
The next idea was similar to the birdseed pantyhose combo but this one involved rice and pantyhose. I love the aroma of freshly cooked rice, but not coming from me. Strike three.
There were really strange ideas using condoms and lubricant as a filler. I won't expound on this option. Ewww! But I was intrigued by the many creative examples I came across.
The best homemade prostheses recipe came from someone who used a balloon, water, and an unused, disposable baby's diaper. Apparently, the trick was to take a balloon and slip another balloon inside it (for added leak protection). After doing this, the diaper was to be unfolded and the center crotch area of the diaper was to be taken apart gently. Inside the disposable diaper, a powdery blue substance could be found. By placing a funnel inside the mouths of the balloons, the harvested powder could be poured. Next, a little water would be added, and the end of the balloon would be tied into a knot. The maker would then take the powder-filled balloon and massage it, mixing the substance and water to form a gel. When the gel had formed and lumps had been worked out, the maker could rejoice in a new homemade prostheses. This project seemed pretty practical albeit tedious, but it still didn't make me laugh with glee. Strike four.
I read through countless trial and error examples of ingenuity. I finally came to the conclusion that my conquest was futile. There just wasn't a good solution. Perhaps the best solution for a breastless woman was to accept fate and embrace being flat-chested. For me, that was easier said than done.
I'm working hard to get to the point of being flat in public. I did make a trial run, sans prostheses today, but I don't think it counted. I chose not to wear my prostheses to an appointment at the cancer treatment center. As I entered the building, I felt anxious. I hadn't worn a patterned blouse which would have offered some form of camouflage. Instead, I'd worn a solid black blouse. There was nowhere to hide. My chest was flat as the proverbial pancake.
As I walked through the facility, I passed those who were evidently in treatment and also their family members. Not a single eye was fixed on my chest. Not one.
I managed to get through the appointment and walk out of the center with no one pointing, staring, or commenting on my breastlessness. It felt amazing and I was so thankful I hadn't worked for hours making my own breast form that might have leaked, spilled or oozed goo.