By the time I
was in 4th grade, I was already wearing a bra - not a training bra,
a size B cup that was actually too small. Flash forward to 7th grade
and I was a D cup. It was humiliating - I often would bind my
breasts, tape them, basically do anything to hide them. One day, in
8th grade, I noticed a lump in my left breast. It scared me - but I
was more afraid to tell my mom and my stepfather as they were
totally anti-sex education and felt that touching yourself was a
sin. So I spent hours in the library, trying to understand what was
happening. Now mind you, this is was back in 1968 - when research
meant the library and Dewey Decimal System (I know, I am ancient or
so my kids think).
What I read scared me more, so I finally got the
courage to tell my mom, who of course told my stepfather (who by the
way, was nuts). After being punished for touching myself, I was
taken to a doctor at the local Army base. After a thorough exam,
with a couple of medics in the room, I was told that it was an
infection, to take antibiotics and to soak my breast in hot salt
water 2x a day - and to stop touching my breasts. (True story). The
lump did not go away but I told my parents it did as I had been
humiliated by the doctor visit.
At the age of 19 I was living in Boston attending college, and was a
full size D. My boyfriend at the time noticed not only that lump but
another one, and also one in my Right breast. I went to the local
Public Health hospital (still military dependent). They ordered a
mammogram and when it came back, they had me admitted to the
hospital. I was scared pretty badly. I call my parents, who refused
to come up to Boston, as they were living in Florida by now.
mom actually wanted to come, however my stepfather refused to allow
her stating I had no business touching myself and this was my
punishment for continuing to be, in his words, promiscuous. So there
I am, sitting in the hospital, and the doctor is telling me that
they were going to remove the 2 lumps in my left breast and one in
my right, and oh by the way sign here because we may decide to just
remove your breasts if they look suspicious. I refused to sign - I
wanted to know when I woke up that my breasts would still be there
and I was scared!
we argued, I made the Hospital Administrators and Head of Surgery
come to my room and sign a document that they could not and would
not take off my breasts without my knowledge and approval.
I woke up in recovery, and there are tubes in both breasts. The
doctor (who I pissed off) came in, followed by a gaggle of medical
students (all male) and said take off your robe, I want to show them
what I did. I refused - told them I was not a pinup or an exhibit to
a bunch of men and to get the Administrator and Surgeon, again.
Another battle, another waiver, only the doctor - the head surgeon-
could exam me. I had a tumor and cyst removed from the left breast,
and a tumor removed from the right. Both ended up benign. But had I
not fought for myself, I would have woken up to no breasts.
determined that I had fibrocystic disease (that is what they called
it in those days) and actually put me on hormones to control the
cysts! Six months of taking the hormones and I grew to a DDD/E cup.
I went off the pill - lost all the weight I had gained, but not in
my breasts. I hated it and hid them as best I could.
I went on a
date with a guy once who asked me, over dinner, what size breasts I
had, I left immediately (but took a doggy bag home!). After that, I
wouldn't date anyone who looked at my breasts before looking at me!
Oh, and did I tell you, my boyfriend broke up with me because he
didn't want to date someone diseased and couldn't handle the scars
left from the surgery.
Now I am 32, pregnant, an EEE. My breasts did NOT go down after the
baby was born and I stopped breastfeeding. I told my husband at the
time (now known as my 20 year sentence) that I wanted a Breast
Reduction. He wouldn't hear of it - we had a daughter, and since
there were no sons from any of his side of the family, he wanted us
to try again in a couple of years for a son. I have another scare or
2 with mammograms and biopsies, but not to worry, it was OK.
I'm now 36, pregnant and a size G. I have a boy - the weight doesn't
come off as easily and the breasts once again did not shrink.
Instead they grew and I ended up a GGG. My 20 year sentence is
"disgusted" at how I look; I go on diets, work out, and do it all. I
lose the weight but the breasts remain.
I am now 40. I receive a call - your mammogram is suspicious, please
come back tomorrow. I asked my ex husband to please take off work
and go with me as I am scared. He said oh, I can't because I am
moving out in a month after I get back from the trip to Alaska (that
we were both supposed to take). So I go alone, and it is OK.
My divorce is final. I am dating a wonderful man who agreed a BR
would be great but I didn't have insurance that would cover it (I am
unemployed). Eventually he moves in with me. We dated for ~ 8
months, and he them moved in with me. We got married after being
together for 3 1/2 years. In Feb of 2004 he was working in Alaska -
he is a union electrician and there are no jobs in Seattle. I go for
my annual checkup and they find another suspicious lump. Doctor says
it is fine, but I am tired of all this and go to a friend who is the
head of radiology and the breast cancer research center at Fred
Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. She reviews the films and then
orders an ultrasound and then a diathermic ultrasound.
Now, I hadn't
told Monty yet, as he was in Alaska, working night shifts and the
cell phones didn't work there. He was in a "man camp" and could call
me about once a week or maybe every other week. So here I am,
frantic. Marion, my friend, comes back in with a grim look and says
we need to remove that lump. It is cancer. Because of the
density of my breasts, and the number of cysts, it was hard to tell
from the mammogram but the diathermic ultrasound showed signs of
early stage breast cancer. I have the lumpectomy. - I tell no one,
I am like in shock. Results come back, yes it was early stage but
edges are clean and the nodes good so I don't need a mastectomy but
I did an new test procedure called a mammosite, where they put a
radioactive balloon into the area, and hook you up to essentially
I received two treatments which was the equivalent
of two months of radiation - and it was only two times in the same
week. By now of course Monty knows and he quits the job in Alaska
and comes home. He is upset with me for not telling him but it all
worked out fine. In the meantime, I get an email from my first
cousin, who tells me she had a mastectomy of her left breast 4 days
before I had my surgery!
I had to go in every three months to be smashed, prodded, have
numerous biopsies, and studied - for over three years. I finally get
the clearance in February that all is well and that I can come back
in a year like a "normal person". Monty and I say great, now is the
time we can do the breast reduction.
I set up the
Plastic Surgeon appointment – in which they insist on a mammogram. I
say look, I have been squished to death - my boobs should have
shrunk from all the mammograms I had and besides I had one 6 months
ago. They didn’t like my answer and told me we won't proceed
without one. This did not please me at all, I grumble, I snarl and
I go much bit*chly to get a mammogram. And wouldn't you know it -
its back! My cousin, the SAME one, calls me the next week after I
emailed her to tell me SHE had it in her other breast! She opts for
a mastectomy of the other breast. Me, I am just nuts.
My husband and
I discuss all the options. My daughter, who was with me when I got
my results, took me shoe shopping (we are firm believers in shoe
therapy being good for the sole and the soul) and told me she would
be there for me no matter what is decided. So we meet with my PS, my
friend Marion and an Oncologist. We map out the options, and decide
that we will go forward with the BR, perform a quadranectomy of the
left breast (partial mastectomy) at the same time and basically
clean out my left breast, remove two nodes and make my right breast
match the left. My surgeons were great - they were able to use the
same anchor technique and save my nipple on the left breast (though
it is not quite the same size). Recovery was hell. But the nodes
were clear and so far, all is well almost a year later.
I love my breasts and am grateful I did both surgeries. The recovery
was hard - it was easily 8 weeks before I really regained any of my
energy. The left breast is more scarred, and I still ache sometimes
and had a lot more difficult regaining the movement and reaching
with my left arm. My husband loves the new breasts, my radiologist
friend and oncologist love the new breasts because they can see what
is going on and we are all confident I am cancer free. If it, God
forbid, should happen again, I will go for a double mastectomy. But
I am feeling good that it was early enough and that enough of the
ducts and breast was removed to clear out the whole area.
So that is my long road to a BR. I wish with all my heart I had done
it back when I was 32 instead of 52. But then again, I wouldn't be
who I am now, and wouldn't appreciate as much, the wonders of my new
breasts. And I love them, each and every scar.