Tuesday, 16 August 2011

A Breast of Value

I want to ask of all of you a question.  Women: what are your breasts worth to you?  Men (so you can put it a little better into context): what is your penis worth to you?  Yes, it's not quite the same but the value of our sexual organs comes rather high when you have to think about not having them, especially when you are still young or young at heart.

A breast for a woman is more than a lump of flesh and nerves.  It's more than something to help with pleasure with her partner.  It's not just a method of feeding her young.  And I assure you it is a part of how she sees herself when she walks passed a mirror.

Losing my hair to chemo was a physical blow to my self esteem.  Yes, it's just hair, but I had long hair since I was in elementary.  It was part of my identifiers.  Julie was that girl with the really long hair that had the natural silver streak down the front.  Then it was gone.  Looking in the mirror was a reminder, day in and day out that I had cancer.  I was sick.  I had something trying to kill me inside my body.  "Death by boob" was not going to be on my tombstone so I fought it.  I opted for a mastectomy, to be honest, it turned out to be the best decision after the surgeon saw what the tumour was like.  But they wouldn't let me have reconstruction right away and would not take the other breast at the same time.  Apparently when your tumour is over 5 cm big (that's close to 2" for those that don't know), you are automatically signed up for a lot of radiation, and they don't want to radiate the reconstruction.  Fine...  They tell me to sign up for reconstruction now because it's a 2 year wait.  (OMG? really? well.. okay, that'll give me time to recover).  What they don't tell you is that's a bald-faced lie!  I was put on the waiting list and finally got a hold of the plastic surgeon's secretary 7 months later and she tells me it's going to 2-3 years, from that day, AT LEAST to even have a call for my consultation.  Not surgery, JUST a consultation.

Do you know what I see in the mirror?  Me.  Me minus one breast.  Me minus one breast.  Me... Me minus one breast.  Yes, I'm still there, but not all of me.  The deadly mammary has been sliced off, but there's this reminder that I had to go through that.  A reminder that I am still not back to my image.  Hair is growing back, and that looks weird enough to me, but being lopsided is more soul wrenching than the sight of me with short, short hair.

I am only 30.  If I just stand by and say "oh, okay, I'll wait" I could be 34 or 35 easily before I get a consultation with my plastic surgeon!!  I want you to envision yourself without a breast (if your a woman) or your penis (if you're a man) for 3-4 years.  How would you see yourself in the mirror?  How would you feel every time you had that ghost feeling that it was still there and look down to see it gone?  Be honest.  What would that do to your emotional well being?

I can put up the brave front.  I can wear the bloody prostheses so people feel normal around me.  I don't care for them, they're not comforting in the freaking least!  And I don't care if you feel uncomfortable around me because I've been disfigured by my cancer.  You have to deal with it when you see me.  I have to deal with it 24/7...  No breaks from it but in my dreams...  And when you wake up it shatters your soul.  But do not tell me that because the cancer is gone I'm not a priority to be made whole again.

That's right.  Because my cancer seems to be completely vanquished I am considered "delayed".  To the plastic surgeon I'm not important.

What's sad is if I was willing to go to New Brunswick, the next province over, I could most likely get reconstruction done within months.  But I'd have to go there from here on to get all check ups done.  I'd have to make that 3 hour (one way!) journey to get all procedures completed.  (Did I mention I have a back injury and find it hard to drive distances, too..?).  In New Brunswick, cancer survivors come first.  In Nova Scotia, we don't.

I'd love to be proven wrong here.  Please!  By all means, someone find proof that cancer survivors are cared about in the world of plastic surgery.  Show me that when the cancer is out of our bodies that our healing process is important to them!

Then maybe you can explain why people that had their mastectomies in 2007 are just getting their consultations in 2011. >=(

Please join this Facebook group so we can try to make a change!  Thank you  
Vive La Boob-a-lution!!

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