It's fair to say that as a society we are enamored by breasts. We swoon for them. Lately, I've been the one obsessing. I suppose that's because in exactly seven days the very thing that gives me my feminine shape will forever be changed. I've been mourning them.
My surgeon reminded me that my inevitable double mastectomy is almost like undergoing an amputation. The radical procedure will leave both physical and emotional scars.
More than breast tissue will be removed on the operating table; it seems that part of my identity will also be taken from me. But I take comfort in knowing that these breasts have already lived out their greatest purpose- nursing my precious girls.
Breastfeeding is no small undertaking. It's trying and tough but often convenient and the most natural thing ever, at least it was for me. Some of the sweetest snapshots that remain in my mind are looking down at my girls suckling from my bosom. The commitment to nursing is real and I was lucky to be in a position where I could more easily nurse since my job was flexible. I recall nursing in my parked car outside of auditions. I remember pumping in the dressing rooms at model bookings. I'll never forget taking my first swimwear job post-birth and my breasts becoming completely engorged throughout the day. The designer was pleased that I was filling out the swimsuits, she had no idea that in between changes I was sneaking into the dressing room to expel the milk from my breasts. I would nurse my children while shopping, while flying on airplanes, while sitting on the beach, at the park, etc. These are some of my finest moments. And in the blur of caring for a newborn baby, some of the most vivid memories I have are breastfeeding my girls. I am grateful that I was able to enjoy that experience before cancer rocked our world.
It's cruel that the very organs (yes, they are considered organs) that gave my girls sustenance and life are the same organs that, with the disease, could end my life.
Before my diagnosis, it hadn't crossed my mind to get plastic surgery. It just wasn't on my radar. Until now. And though I am walking into my mastectomy surgery a bit reluctant, I know that I'm making the right choice for me and for my family. Oh, and I get new perky boobs for life. For that little bonus of reconstruction I can thank the Women’s Health and Cancer Rights Act (WHCRA) which was signed into law on October 21, 1998. I know that many lobbyists and advocacy groups worked tirelessly to ensure the patient rights of women affected by cancer- and now I am one of them.
These breasts must go. There is no turning back. Au revoir.