Barbara - Three year anniversary
This month is a 3 yr. anniversary for me. Three years of living without breasts. Not only without breasts, but most of it flat. I looked at the implications of all the possibilities and chose it.
Choosing – seems so innocuous, almost flippant. Dare say, no matter where any of us land, our choices were neither innocuous nor flippant. These were not my only options. I searched my heart and reviewed the options in light of my many medical, physical, financial, logistical, emotional, employment, psychological, recovery, time, and existing support system considerations, layered in the expectations of what I expected or was lead to expect the societal reaction might be and made the hard decisions. This would not be the first time in my life to make the unexpected choices and head down a trail that I fully expected to have to blaze. On the other hand, I had full support and acceptance from my medical team, closest friends and family. None of them ever made me feel that breasts or the look of them were more important than me, my value as a person or that they were what defined me as a woman. And yet… there is this sense of sitting on the fringes. Who does this stuff?
Extraordinary revelations have come to me in 3 years, many in the last few months. I am not alone – far from it. Who does this stuff? Turns out that at least with the no reconstruction part it is most of us. Not only that but I would come to realize there are more gorgeous, remarkable and inspiring women out there living Fabulously Flat than I ever could have imagined. Not saying it makes us better or that this is the better option, not at all, but certainly does make me ask why any of us were ever made to feel different, unworthy and marginalized? We are not out there. In spite of sometimes hearing comments to the contrary, I would guess most of us have a pretty firm grip on our gender and sexuality, whether that is straight and 100% girl as I am or somewhere on the LGBT spectrum. I see the problem as there are too many people, far too many of them surgeons and other professionals, even though well-meaning, who lack the vision to realize that both reconstruction or no reconstruction whether flat or with forms, can all be optimistic viable life affirming options. Not only that but they need to put their prejudices aside as to the ones who will or “should” choose each option, be it the 20 something or straight who chooses no recon or the 70 something or on the LGBT spectrum who chooses recon, and everything in between.
It is estimated that 1 in 8 of us will have breast cancer in her lifetime. We come in every possible nuance of humanity, every age, religion, sexual orientation, political point of view, economic circumstance, walk of life, and from every corner of the world. Then throw in other medical conditions, co-morbidities, family circumstances, employment considerations, financial & insurance considerations, and perhaps it not really so surprising that on the surface seemingly similar women will come to diametrically opposed decisions. We are adult competent women who have lived a lot of life to get to this point. Whether we have been diagnosed with BC or due to gene mutation or family history are facing a high risk of contracting it, we deserve the dignity to be fully informed about our choices, feel the freedom to choose whatever we feel is best for ourselves and our families, and hopefully be blessed to be surrounded by people who will stand by us and support us no matter what we decide. And even down the road to exercise our feminine prerogative to change our minds and forge a new path.
P.S. I imagine you want to know what it has been like to live flat in a world obsessed with tata’s. I won’t lie to you there have been emotional ups and downs, almost entirely from my own internal angst. Unlike some others, all the people who mattered in my life, from my medical team to my closest friends and family have supported me right from the beginning. I have had more than a few moments, okay a lot of moments of looking out the corner of my eye to see if people were spinning their head around as they passed me on the street, in the grocery, or on the elevator with all the professional types headed to or from our offices each day. Essentially waiting for the other shoe to drop but it never did.
One thing that may have influenced my experience is that I decided if I was going to do it, I was going to own it. Fake it until you make it or as I saw on a video recently a phrase something along the lines of fake it until you become it. I have become it. The biggest surprise of all has been how very few people notice the flat. Like how I can be discussing a certain outfit with other shoppers at the same clothes rack who are so oblivious they think they can beat me in a contest of who has the flattest chest. Sucker bet ALERT. Or the ones who standing 3 ft away looking at me in a shirt as flat as flat can be and still asked if I had recon? Perhaps I should have looked down and said, If so, I guess I need to ask for my money back…??? At the end of the day, it has been remarkably easy for me.