Learning to Love My Prosthesis

Wearing silicone prostheses presents many challenges and some of them are quite funny!

I was so excited! My husband and I were actually going on a date. It's been a long time since we've planned a night on the town since we've just been focusing on getting through each day. As I've been working to learn to move forward, from a world centered around breast cancer survival into the "new normal" life of breast cancer “thriver,” that life is going to include date nights and many other exciting adventures.

After my shower, I styled my hair. It's super short, so it doesn't take much time to do. I blow it dry, squirt some gel into the palms of my hands and give it a quick run through pushing wisps of hair into place and guiding them exactly where I want them to be. Mirror check...yep, it looked good. Then it was time to get dressed. What to wear? We never really dress up for week night dates, so I wore jeans and a nice blouse, comfy but still pretty. But before I pulled on my clothes, I had to don undergarments, and that's where it got a little more complicated.

A few weeks ago, it was time for me to visit Renewal, the little store that specializes in all things cancer-related. My insurance stipulates that every two years I can get new prostheses. It was exciting to be able to go in and get an upgrade. My first set was the "barely there" model, a mere AA cup with no projection, just a little fullness. But this time, I was going for broke. Even though the larger models weighed more, I wanted the look of femininity and I was going to do whatever it took to get it. I chose a B cup with the help of the fitter.

Take baby steps, you can always go bigger next year," she said. I kept that thought tucked in the back of my mind. The fitting went well and I left the store as a proud owner of some "real" silicone boobs, not just little hints at womanhood. These were the real deal.

As I continued to get ready for my date, I slipped on my underwear and went into the bedroom to get my "over the shoulder boulder holder." I had to upgrade my bras when I upgraded my girls. With new bra in hand, I opened up the little zippered boxes that held my B cup prostheses. As I lifted the lid on each box, it was almost as if I could hear the “Hallelujah Chorus” playing loudly and I could almost see sparkles and glitter floating through the air. I held one of the new boobs in my hand. It was amazing! The pinkish flesh color was almost perfect. The nipple was barely there, but still gave a hint at realism. I carried my boobs into the bathroom and began trying to tuck them into the pockets on my mastectomy bra as the fitter had instructed. After they were in place, I slipped the heavy bra on and reached around to fasten it in back. I looked in the mirror.

Horror of horrors! One of my boobs was pointing North and the other was pointing South! This would never do! I slipped off the bra and tried again. I glanced in the mirror and thought things were better but now, instead of my boobs pointing North and South, they were pointing East and West! Real breasts didn't lie in that position! I had to do some readjusting and finally, was able to get them both in the proper position with a little manipulation.

I checked myself out in the mirror. Not too bad. I looked at myself sideways, there was a nice projection. Yes, these were perfect. I'd made a good choice with the fitter's help. As I continued to dress, I had to laugh. I wondered how many woman had difficulty getting their prostheses lined up correctly and how many never gave it a thought.

After I was dressed, I began to put on my makeup. First came moisturizer, then concealer, foundation, powder, blush, eyeshadow, liner, mascara and lipstick. Whew! I wondered if men ever thought about all we do to make ourselves visually pleasing to them. It's a lot of work to be a woman!

Glancing at the clock, I noticed it was just before noon. There were still many hours to go before my husband would be home from work. I knew he'd be tired when he got home but he'd made a promise to take me out and he'd keep that promise. Dinner and a movie-- that's what our date night would start off with and who knew where it would go from there.

I walked through the living room and as I did, I passed the mirror in the hallway. I noticed one of my breast forms had slipped a little and was trying to sneak over to the West again. I pushed it back into place and wondered how I was going to keep both of these girls planted firmly throughout the night and that's when it hit me...DUCT TAPE! Duct tape was good for everything! I ran into the garage and dug through my husband's tool chest. I found a roll of the shiny, silver tape and hastily ripped off two small pieces. I went back inside and stripped off my bra. I lay it flat on the bed and made sure the breast forms were exactly where they needed to be and then voila! I taped them in place. Now they'd stay positioned and I wouldn't have to worry.

It's exciting to be able to look forward to going out with the man I love, even if I'm held together with duct tape. Learning to live this life of a "new normal" certainly has its challenges but you have to appreciate humor now and then, too.