Goodbye Breasts

My breasts blossomed fairly early. I got my first bra before leaving fifth grade. A positive body image came along much, much later though. Early blooming breasts, late blooming acceptance of said breasts. Marriage and a healthy sex life helped. Then motherhood and breastfeeding put us over the top. Finally, more than twenty years after that first bra, I was comfortable with my God-given breasts, imperfect as they were.

Were. It still bothers me to use past tense. From buds to full womanhood; objects of pleasure, source of nourishment for my infant son, then an ironic twist. Not long after my hard-won positive body image was reached, I chose to have my breasts removed as part of the efforts to address and dispel cancer that had already taken up residence in my right breast.

Because we had worked hard to foster a good relationship, my breasts and I parted on good terms. The way I see it, I honored my real breasts by not having reconstruction. This is a very personal and difficult decision for anyone facing it. Nothing would replace the look and especially the feel of what nature had given me. An avid runner, I realized that flat would fit me better than the potential risks and complications that may come with any method of reconstruction. Though I bloomed late regarding my self-image, it was early enough to allow me to make difficult decisions when diagnosed with cancer. Decisions I have not regretted.

Years of gratitude practice also helped me keep perspective. My cancer was in a body part a person can live without. Not so with places like lungs, livers, and brains. Years of a strong marriage and a loving husband also helped. My breasts were part of my womanhood, but only part of it. The rest of me recovered from the loss, though it took patience and healing of physical, mental, and emotional varieties.

The healing started when I came out of the anesthesia following my bilateral mastectomies. One of the first things I did was look down at my new flat terrain. Shortly after, my husband got a look too. We were moving forward, no breasts required.

Actually, the healing started when I wrote this poem just days prior to surgery:

Goodbye Breasts

You came forth
In my early teens
Moving me towards
Womanhood
I’ve carried you
With me
For thirty years
And now I have
To say goodbye

You have covered
Every mile
I’ve ever run                            

Leading the way
So to speak
And now I have
To say goodbye

You have brought
Pleasure
At intimate moments
You will be missed
Because now I have
To say goodbye   

Your greatest
Accomplishment
Has been
Nourishing my
Infant son
Feeding his body
And brain
Connecting us
As only
Mother and child
Can be
But now
I have to
Say goodbye                                                               

I didn’t always
Accept you
As you are
Self-conscious
As I am
But we were
On good terms
Until cancer
Came along
Now I have
To say goodbye

Goodbye breasts

 12/6/08

 

4 Comments

  1. Wow. Amazing blog post. Very poignant. I had a bilateral mastectomy with reconstruction; however, I do respect anyone’s decision not to have reconstruction. The poem is stunning.

    Like

    1. Thank you Beth. I too respect each individual’s choices with these very difficult decisions. My hope is that each woman faced with these decisions has the information and time to make the decision she feels is best for her. Thanks for commenting!

      Like

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