“Droopy boob.” This is not the title of my new book, my rock band or my porn name. It is what was described to me this week about my remaining original breast. The good breast. The one not sliced off and then fried. The one with the nipple. The one that still has feeling and sensation. The one that, while imperfect, is perfect to me because it’s mine.
When I first started seeing my plastic surgeon two years ago, I remember that after my mastectomy and we starting talking reconstruction, he mentioned that he would like to do a lift on my left breast to make it symmetrical. He said that my breast was, “a little droopy,” to which I responded, “well, that’s because it’s sad because it misses his friend.” Funny, right? I thought so. He didn’t get it. Or doesn’t have a great sense of humor. Or both. I never thought more about it. The DIEP Flap was such a big surgery I told him that I didn’t want him to touch any other part of my body. Slicing me in half was quite enough, thank you!
Before breast cancer, I liked my breasts. They weren’t too big and while they weren’t quite as high as they were when I was 18 (I had just finished breast feeding for 17 months, after all), I thought they still looked pretty good. It never occurred to me to do anything to my breasts to enhance them in any way.
This past week, almost a year after my DEIP Flap, I went back to my plastic surgeon to discuss a follow-up surgery to make my right breast, the one that was chopped off and reconstructed, look more like, well, a breast! Because isn’t that the point? My surgeon did a great job of matching the size and the symmetry is pretty good. But the top of the breast is flat. I described it to him as a blown up pancake. There’s no cone shape. I want that changed.
He’s not sure that he can get it exactly like that but he suggested that if I want more symmetry, that I do a lift on the other breast because, “it’s a little bit droopy.” He called my breast droopy again!!!!!!! For real!
Now, when I think of a droopy breast, I think back to when I was 9 years old and my mom sent me to a babysitter after school. She was a mom with three children. She was overweight and had large breasts. I remember (I’ll never, ever forget this), one day I was at her house after school. She was in the kitchen cleaning. I asked her something and when she turned around, I could see her nipples hanging out from the bottom of her shirt. I remember being completely shocked. I had NO IDEA boobs could do that!!!!! I remember thinking, “how are her breasts at the bottom of her shirt?” It didn’t make sense to me! So, when I hear the term, “droopy boobs,” that’s exactly what I think of.
In comparison to my babysitter, my left breast is alert and perky. It’s still in the chest area and that’s pretty good. But according to my plastic surgeon, if I want true symmetry, I’ll have to do some work on the good breast. He said he could try to get some droop on the right one but “why would I want to do that?” Really?????
I asked what the lift would entail. He said he’d have to cut a crescent above the nipple and would do a lift from there. Another scar. In a very noticeable place. I forgot to ask but it seems that if he made this surgical cut, I’d lose some sensation in the nipple.
I want nothing more than to look like myself again. I thought that was the whole point of reconstruction. But as I go on and move closer to the end of this cancer experience, I’m reminded that, once again, I’ll never be like I was. My rebuilt breast will never look like the original. It’s a fraud. And now it’s likely that one nipple will be pointing straight while the other a little more south. I’ll be like a Picasso.
I know that my surgeon kept mentioning this because he is a perfectionist. As well he should be. I get it. But my body is not my own anymore. I still look in the mirror and don’t recognize the reflection. I think that another major scar would break me. What would it be for, really? Symmetry when naked? What if I still can’t look at myself without being disgusted? Then what’s the point of that symmetry? What’s the point if it’s at the expense of my peace of mind and my self worth?
I am taking into consideration everything he said but my gut is telling me to keep the cutting to a minimum. I have been through enough. I have done enough. It will have to be enough.
My next surgery is scheduled for February 16. It will be much easier that my DIEP Flap. He said that there’s even a possibility that I won’t have to be put under general anesthesia. That would be great. And barring any complications, I’ll be ready to go back to work in a week.