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.
Silicone doesn't last forever. After a few years of constant wear, a prosthesis breaks down and is no longer functional. Some women become very attached to their replacement breasts and find it difficult to say goodbye. This is one survivor's light hearted look at what to do with worn out breast forms.
There they lay, my two silicone symbols of femininity. Staring up at me from the bathroom counter top, my prostheses looked tired. I’d recently washed them and carefully placed them on a towel to dry. After several wearings, this had become routine procedure. I treated my prostheses well and wanted to make sure they would last for a very long time.
My prostheses were quite expensive. Although insurance covered the majority of the cost, my gel-filled breast forms where priceless to me.
Thelma and Louise, as I’d aptly named them a few years ago, had finally given up the ghost. No longer were they voluptuously full. They’d grown old and wrinkled, reminding me of my grandmother's breasts. No longer did they stand at attention upon my chest. Instead, they sagged lower and lower, almost reaching my navel. It wasn’t only their fault, oh no! My mastectomy bra was partly to blame as well. After constant wear, the elastic had become worn, allowing the forms to hang pendulously.
As I looked at them, I realized it was finally time for a retirement party. I needed to tell the girls goodbye. But how could I honor them for their years of faithful service? I wanted to think of an appropriate way to say farewell to my silicone tatas.
I could just drop them in the trash, but that seemed so harsh and impersonal. I could puncture them, allowing the gel to ooze out in a painfully slow manner. I could throw a party, inviting all my family and friends over. We could toast and roast the breast forms thanking them for all they’d done for my self-esteem. But none of those ways seemed fitting. I needed something more dramatic.
After mulling it over for about 30 minutes, I had a grand idea. I’d give my prostheses a Viking burial at sea.
A flood of emotions filled me. Sadness and joy commingled. The ceremony would be symbolic and striking. I knew what I had to do.
I’d build a tiny wooden ship with a mast and sails. After it was complete, I’d lay Thelma and Louise, my breast forms, side by side upon the tiny planked floor. At the water’s edge, dousing them with lighter fluid, I’d set them ablaze. As flames licked the silicone mounds, I’d push them out to sea with fondest farewells.
It was a good thought, but it didn’t happen. I couldn’t burn them! These inanimate objects were part of me. We’d bonded.
I picked up my tired, saggy, wrinkled breasts and tucked them gingerly back into their little pink hat boxes for safe keeping. As I zipped up the cases, I offered a debt of gratitude. No longer would Thelma and Louise be enlisted in active duty. They would henceforth and forevermore be resigned to the dark and deep of my dresser drawer.
In their place would be two brand new, stout prostheses. They were firm and supple. Having never been worn, the new girls would need some breaking in before they felt comfortable on my chest.
Yes, it was time to retire my old forms and to also retire my old worn out bra. No longer would my chest be sad and saggy. It would now be perky and pert, at least for a few more years.
How are you supposed to retire prostheses? You can’t very well donate worn and weathered boobs to the less fortunate. They deserve good quality prostheses just like the rest of us. So, what’s a girl to do?
I searched the Internet for appropriate means of disposal and found none.
Retiring prostheses was emotional for me. I felt like I was saying goodbye to old friends but now I have a new set of prostheses. My insurance company allows me to purchase a new pair every couple of years.
And now I have a new dilemma. What shall I name them? These twin, flesh colored mounds of silicone can't go unnamed. If we're going to spend the majority of our time together, I think the names Lucy and Ethel seem appropriate.