At the age of forty-seven, my annual mammogram came back abnormal. After many consults, opinions, and tears, I opted for a mastectomy and reconstruction. Luckily, my type of cancer was DCIS (Ductal Carcinoma in Situ), if diagnosed early, has an excellent prognosis. While thankful for this, this many years later, accepting my new body landscape continues to be a challenge.
This year marks the seventeen-year anniversary of that phone call. After having a mastectomy and reconstruction, the amount of physical deformity is absolutely daunting. There’s a constant reminder of the cancer journey—while looking in the mirror, while getting dressed, and during more intimate moments. Following my surgery, I felt so unattractive, but my surgeon and husband reminded me of my intrinsic beauty, and encouraged me to wear sexy clothes. It’s also difficult to get used to the loss of sensation on the mastectomy side. The nipple and surrounding area are completely numb. There’s no erotic sensation at all.
Accepting the loss of a breast is a slow process. Practicing patience and self-love is important. It’s simply not easy being a woman. There are many concerns, issues, decisions, hurdles, and milestones, but there are also many high points . . . and it’s important that we also take a moment to celebrate those!
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