I have come to the realisation that I have a less than healthy attitude towards my sole remaining fixed asset. Instead of feeling as if I should console the lonesome breast, considering it has been robbed of its life partner, I struggle to find anything endearing or redeeming about it at all.
Feelings towards this apparently innocent entity include dislike, suspicion, fear, mistrust and distaste. I am dreadfully asymmetrical following my surgery and to make matters worse, I have found it impossible to find a perfect matching prosthesis. My skin is naturally quite sensitive, and when you add to that a humid climate and the after effects of shingles, radiation and the occasional mosquito bite, my poor delicate skin suffers frequent irritation. I monitor every appearance of rash or irritation with dread, frightened of IBC. The generous nature of this lone survivor adds to my fear because there is plenty of capacity to hide any recurrence of the cancer monster. I simply don’t trust the remaining breast – it feels like a time bomb ticking away. I feel as if it has a malevolent grin as it guards the secret of whether it will also try to kill me. In fact I actually can’t think of anything kind to say about this poor solitary mammary. i know that it is blatant discrimination – and I don’t feel guilty about it at all.
Tenuously connected to this thought, there is a whole other thing going on. There is a great deal of discussion on breast cancer discussion sites, blogs of breast cancer buddies and other women who I have connected with on one big topic – reconstructive surgery. This is the surgery many of us opt for following the mutilation we have undergone to remove our unwelcome cancer visitor. There are a variety of different techniques, which Dr W briefly outlined to me at the time of my diagnosis. At that time I remember thinking that I was really not interested in reconstruction – I just wanted the beast removed, and that meant taking whatever tissue was necessary in the process. Another important factor is that I am a terrible coward and did not want additional pain and discomfort other than what was medically indicated. In the 18 months since the big surgery, I have not yet felt the urge to consider reconstructive surgery. I do know that may well change in time. For now, though, the only reconstruction I could face would be the magical, wake-up–one-morning-and-hey-presto-it-has-all-happened reconstruction. The kind of magical procedure which results in transformation only, and no ill effects, stitches, drains or pain.
I have a sneaking suspicion, that even after several years, I will still not have changed my feeling about whether reconstructive surgery is for me, although of course, you just never know. Another thought is taking shape in my mind, however. The fact that I am horribly asymmetrical, coupled with the discrimination towards the sole surviving breast, direct me in a rather different direction. A rather lonesome direction at that. Rather than reconstruct the obliterated side, I feel as if I would actually prefer to have a deconstruction of the other side. I would feel less of a curiosity. I would have the fear of recurrence reduced or removed, and that dreadful asymmetry would be resolved. I could also buy cute matching pairs of prosthetics, as are for sale readily in Thailand. And I could run for a bus – and it has been a long time since that was a comfortable experience!
In the meantime though, unless there is a medical reason (in other words, a cancer reason) I think that there is unlikely to be any change on the topography. I know that I am very fortunate that I did not need a double mastectomy so I feel that I should be thankful for having one breast intact. I realise that I am probably rather odd and ungrateful in my attitude towards my single breast, but that is the way I feel, I am afraid.
Reconstruction doesn’t appeal, deconstruction is unlikely so discrimination seems to be the way forward for the time being.