I Changed My Mind…I Would Like Boobs
When I had my mastectomy in 2015 I was empowered, inspired and most of all I was proud to say “Goodbye, bras! I don’t need boobs to define who I am as a woman.” I was embracing the “Flat and Fabulous” life by declining breast reconstruction.
The idea of going through reconstruction with either breast expanders or a hip to hip abdomen wound with one-year-old twins and a three-year-old hanging off my legs was a huge “no way” for me. I was not going to leave my girls for a five-day hospital stay or travel two and a half hours away for expander fillings. I wanted this to be over and done with quickly so that I could get back to cuddling and carrying my little people around.
Two and a half years later my mindset started to change. I realized that looking in the mirror was becoming harder and harder. My body with and without clothes was causing an emotional detachment – there was no way that person in the mirror was me. If I stopped looking, I wouldn’t see the large belly that chemo and menopause had created but breaking up with the mirror wouldn’t be enough. Not when being out in public often ended up with me awkwardly telling people that I was not pregnant. Feeling bad to set them straight and being embarrassed that this very noticeable bulge of my stomach is what people are seeing. Life with my lack of breasts and extended belly was causing havoc on my mental health.
In April of 2018 I made the decision to start the process to begin reconstruction. I finally got up the nerve to ask my oncologist for a consult with the surgeon. There was so much internal struggle with this. I felt shame for giving up on being one of those “breasts don’t define me” woman I had admired. I felt like it was a cop-out, like I was being lazy going for a specific surgery that included a tummy tuck. Was I using some theoretical cancer card to get big boobs and a flat stomach? Most of all though I felt ashamed. I was beginning to work with Rethink on their Metastatic Breast Cancer Advisory Board working side by side with women who have stage IV, incurable breast cancer. Women who because of this status are often declined initial mastectomies let alone reconstruction. Was I being selfish?
It took noticing one of my daughter’s confusion when realizing she had nipples and I did not to really put it all into perspective. How I feel about my body needed to change. I want my girls to grow up in a house where they can look up to me. They can see a mother who calms the negative self-talk in her head and makes decisions that will best suit her and her post-traumatic growth. Knowing my girls may have to make prophylactic decisions about their breasts one day solidified my decision. I was going to show my girls that this is my body, my choice and that I was not going to let the fear of surgeries or my perceived ideas of what people may think dictate my future.
Laura Rice is a member of Rethink’s Metastatic Breast Cancer Advisory Board. She is a wife and mother of 3 young girls, as well as a Freelance Graphic Designer from Collingwood, Ontario. While navigating life after Triple Negative Breast Cancer treatment, Laura found purpose through supporting those diagnosed with cancer as well as those who like herself carry a genetic mutation that predisposes them to developing cancer. Laura currently volunteers for the Canadian Cancer Society as a Peer to Peer support facilitator and Co Run Director for the Blue Mountain/Collingwood CIBC Run for the Cure.