On our daily walk Joel and I stop to chat with a friend at her driveway. It’s the first time we’ve seen her in person since she found out I was diagnosed with breast cancer. She offers many words of encouragement and assistance for my upcoming mastectomy and reconstruction surgeries. Then she says subtly, “Go for the C’s.” It takes me a bit to understand what she is referring to. And then when I get it, I chuckle.
During the journey numerous others, women and men combined, half-jokingly offer me the same advice. I ponder it more seriously as I enter the “we can rebuild you” phase. You see, before kids, my “girls” are a comfortable B. During my childbearing years, they change sizes like a chameleon changes colors. After Marlena is born, my third and last child, my girls shrink to an A. Every morning while getting dressed I ask my girls the same question, “Where’d you go?”
Still, shrunken, saggy, and looking nothing like how they started, I am very sad saying goodbye to my girls the Monday right after Mother’s Day 2004. But one breast is now diseased with something trying to kill me. So off they must go. I have a skin sparing bilateral mastectomy with tissue expander reconstruction. Every two weeks I go to the plastic surgeon to get some saline inserted into the expanders to stretch my pectoral muscles. Through this process, it is quite noticeable to see the difference between my old and new girls. For the first time in I can’t remember when, everything is perfectly firm and symmetrical. The time to decide to C or not to C arrives, and I figure, what the hell, and I go for it. For the first time in my life, I have cleavage. I’m not really sure what all the fuss is about it, but I get used to it.
What I like most is how my girls wake up every morning, perky and bright, and stay that way all day, with or without a bra. They may not be as comfortable as my old ones, exercising with them isn’t as easy, but yoga proves to be a terrific activity. And looking at me in clothing, anyone meeting me for the first time can’t tell my real breasts were surgically removed. Ten years later, I’m still happy to have traded in the Big “C” for my new C’s.