…and those new boobs just aren’t you.
As the leaves change, flip flops become Uggs, October starts, and we embrace the beauty of fall. Cool nights, haunted hayrides, baggy sweaters, pumpkin spice lattes- and the pinkwashing of everything in existence for the month.
What is pinkwashing, you ask?
Pinkwashing is a phrase coined by Breast Cancer Action as part of the Think Before You Pink campaign.
Pinkwasher: (pink’ wah-sher) noun.
A company or organization that claims to care about breast cancer by promoting a pink ribbon product, but at the same time produces, manufactures and/or sells products that are linked to the disease.
We see it the entire month of October.
Pinkwashing in the NFL, pink M&M’s, pink vodka, pink cosmetics… I never gave it much thought (mainly, because I looooooove the color pink), until I was the one sitting with the oncologist in October 2014 preparing for my double mastectomy.
Breast cancer is not pretty. It’s not pink ribbons and glitter. There is NOTHING glamorous or sexy in getting your breasts cut off. It’s barbaric, really, but men and women make this brave choice in order to live.
A mastectomy is not a boob job. Even with reconstruction and implants, they will not feel or look like natural breasts.
I had breasts. Nice ones, if I do say so myself. Sure, sometimes I wished they were bigger, but they suited their purpose and never let me down.
Until that is I went for the MRI I almost blew off and I got the dreaded call.
I didn’t wake up one morning and think, “hey, maybe I’ll cut off my tits.” Yes, I was scared to death and ready to Ginsu them off myself, but this was an extremely difficult decision that I did not take lightly. Having major surgery when I was already dealing with chronic health issues may not have been my brightest idea to date, but almost 3 years out, I wouldn’t change my decision.
But once again, let me make something clear; a mastectomy is not a boob job. With a breast augmentation, silicone or saline implants are placed behind all the natural breast tissue. There’s nerves, and blood supply and pectoralis muscles. What I have is essentially two sacks of silicone held up by skin- no natural breast tissue, no nerves, no nipples, no feeling. Just some skin and silicone. I often wonder if my nurse accidentally stabbed my implant instead of my port, if this would happen…
This is the writer’s (me) representation of my breasts pre-mastectomy. Please advise that I have no artistic bone in my body. (I got the idea for these drawings from an article I read on Huffington post. Not only am I not artistic, I’m not creative)
Clearly looks more Picasso than Michelangelo, but that should give you an idea of what I see in the mirror. What were once full, perky (hey, this is my story) breasts with nipples are now two blobs of silicone that ripple and misshapen when I move certain ways.
What offended me the most leading up to my surgery was everyone telling me how lucky I was to be getting a “free” boob-job. Steve must have been thrilled to pick out my new knockers. Or, what size are you getting?
It doesn’t work that way. Instead of picking out my size, I was worried about keeping my nipples or not; deciding to go ahead with reconstruction immediately or holding off and giving my body more time to heal. While slim, there is a higher incidence of recurrence if you choose nipple-sparing surgery. There’s a risk that because of poor blood-supply, they would become necrotic and I would lose them anyway.
As you know, Steve (in)famously said in front of both surgeons, “Mar, what if they fall off in my mouth?”
Well. He made that decision pretty fucking easy.
Though I would repeatedly make the same choice, I still struggle when I look in the mirror. Sure, they look great under a low-cut top, but they aren’t ME. They are cold (seriously, they are COLD), I don’t feel them, and anymore I think of them as an accessory than an actual part of my body.
While my defense mechanism has always been to make jokes before someone can say someting negative to me, this process was not enjoyable. It was physically painful, mentally exhausting, life-altering, and had more of an affect on my marriage than I would have ever dreamed.
But, like so many others, I did what was best for ME, grabbed this shit by the balls, and took control.
And because of that, I’m here.