From “Monoboob” to “Uni-titty” : Getting my groove back after cancer

 About two years ago, I wrote an obituary .It read as follows:
Lt. Colonel Mammary G(land).
The Twin of the Lt. (only surviving family) would like to report the unfortunate demise of Lt. Col. Mammary G(land). on August 8th, 2013 at the University Hospital. The services of the Lt. are acknowledged and regarded by those who knew her well. Besides performing aesthetic duties for a number of years, the Lt. served two tours of lactational duties from 2007-2008 and then again from 2011-2012 with honorable discharge both times. Lt will be recognized by the highest honor and a silicone trophy will be erected at the grave site.
In lieu of flowers, please send donations to Dr. Plastic’s office.
A soldier had fallen ! The war against breast cancer had claimed another comrade.
I became a “monoboob”.
Monoboob, odd and awkward. Mutilated and Broken. Lopsided and out of balance. My womanhood and body image was under attack.
My life stood still as I coped and recovered from losing a piece of my femininity as well as faith in my own body. Cancer happened to me. Complex information came at me with words like chemotherapy, hair loss, tiredness , radiation and reconstruction. I desperately tried to keep my head above water.
The day before, I was trying to emotionally prepare for a” mastectomy”, the fancy medical name for getting your breast lopped off, I stood in front of the mirror hiding one breast to assess what I would be sans my left breast. I was trying to process my grief. The morning of surgery, I had pictures taken, thinking one last time, I would look whole for the pictures.
It needed to happen. I had cancer in it. I had no choice. I was one in the eight women in the country that get afflicted by breast cancer. Play time was over, life got serious. Very serious.
But did I need to be serious? The answer gradually unfolded.
Shortly after leaving the oncologists office after receiving my verdict of 16 chemotherapy cycles and 30 plus radiations I made a lame joke to my husband. I said, I will no longer be stereo.( one breast being “mono”)
He laughed and looked relieved. I laughed too and before we could let all the impending trauma sink in, I was chattering nonstop, making quips about the doctor, cancer and breasts. Sometimes laughter comes easier than tears.
I needed to find things to laugh about and smile. If I didn’t I would have drowned.
Humor is a powerful defense mechanism and it works great. Ask my friends, I have always been the funny one.
My left breast had gone rogue, filled with rogue cells. What is a woman to do? I decided to laugh all the way to hell and back. I named by blog “Left Boob Gone Rogue”.
After the surgery, recovery was slow and painful. 2 years later I still have pain in my arm off and on.
Initially, the biggest accomplishment of the day for me was flip through a Victoria’s Secret Catalog and not drop a tear.
Losing a breast isn’t easy, I constantly feel like taking a right turn (don’t have the left boob) because I feel that I swayed to the right, like the right turn signal is on!
My run doesn’t have the same rhythm, the plop-plop plop-plop is just plop…plop. every time I look in the mirror, my chest winks at me.
I do thank the surgeon for leaving a small part in the middle intact so could pull together a deceiving cleavage , if I dare to bare it.
Another advantage of having both breasts is, it hides the little protuberant belly. Now with the breast gone, I get a better view of the steroid-enhanced roundness, and believe me, I don’t want to see that. Steroids stimulate appetite and after chemo there is only so much salad and cucumber a gal can eat before she opens the cookie box. It’s not me, it’s the steroids!
I remember the night before the surgery. I had showered so I would sleep better. My two and half year old daughter was laying in my lap, and then she fell asleep, cozily nuzzled between the two soft and friendly entities. And there she was breathing softly with her face burrowed in my chest and I knew that this was the last time she had this comfort. But I knew that I needed to do the surgery so she still has a mom to hug and cuddle with.
I remember when my son was born. I wanted to breast feed him right away. What I didn’t know was how newborns root for the nipple. I panicked, thought my baby was blind and couldn’t really see where to latch on. Thank God it was just a fear. I breast-fed both my children for at least one year. Those are some of the wonderful memories of the “mammaries” and the love and bond they created between me and my children. I feel the loss and I think they do too, in their way as if one of their favorite childhood comfort toy got broken.
The great thing about children is their resilience. They don’t obsess over stuff for too long. Not like adults. Something we can all learn from the little ones in our homes.
For over a year I tolerated grueling treatments and side effects but I loved myself and my life more. The scar on my chest healed with patience and openly sharing my struggles.
At the end of the day, it is just a body part. It doesn’t define me or my femininity. I am still loved by those that matter. That message was loud and clear through an entire year of treatment.
Its two years later, I have made it through and much more comfortable with my body. Cancer has pushed me to be more accepting of the here in now and the blessings of every day .
I think I have moved forward with my body image, with sass and attitude. I have my groove back , cleavage of course is a whole different story.
I am” Uni-Titty”, whole and complete with a full appreciation of life and that is infinitely sexy.

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2 thoughts on “From “Monoboob” to “Uni-titty” : Getting my groove back after cancer

  1. “At the end of the day, it is just a body part.” Well said. It may take our emotional mind a while to catch up to our rational mind, but a breast is, at the end of the day, just a body part.

  2. All I can say is – reading you makes my day. Funny, sassy, wise and incomparably kind, you write about cancer by not writing about ‘just’ cancer.
    Loving hugs to you and Uni-kitty.

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