When I was a little girl I dreamed of being Malibu Barbie when I grew up.
Thankfully I outgrew that aspiration and moved on to things like Cat woman, a nurse, astronaut and finally banker extraordinaire. Well, dreams do come true, just sometimes in the least likely or anticipated ways… I NOW HAVE BARBIE BOOBS! Sounds awesome right? They’re absolutely perky, perfectly shaped, I have no nipples, and for a few months they were just as rock hard as Barbies. Awesome? You can decide that one.
Anyway, I want to share my experience with Breast Reconstruction with you, so that girls around the world who have to choose, can have and idea about what it’s like.
This is only a part of my story, and in the next few weeks I will tell you more about the specific surgeries and procedures I underwent and my experiences relating to finally getting Barbie boobs.
Let me start by saying that this IS a choice and I applaud women who choose not to do reconstruction as much as I do the women that go for it. Also, every woman’s experience with it is different and there are a multitude of ways that breasts can be reconstructed. The breast reconstruction procedure that I chose to undergo, after consultation with my amazing Plastic Surgeon and General Surgeon, was the Bilateral Mastectomy with immediate placement of tissue expanders, and then the expander exchange with permanent tear drop/anatomical cohesive gel implants. This involves 2 major surgeries and several visits to the Dr. for ‘fills’.
On July 24, 2012, I had my first surgery to remove the cancerous lump in my breast. This obviously left a scar but it wasn’t so bad. One of the perks of being pale is scarring doesn’t show as much (Yay!?). It didn’t leave my breasts looking lopsided at all; probably because my left one was slightly larger than the right. The pathology was done and my genetics were tested for the BRCA 1 and 2 gene mutations. Unfortunately it came back that I carried the BRCA 1 gene mutation which explained my extensive family history of breast and ovarian cancer, as well as my diagnoses of triple negative breast cancer at a very young age.
Don’t panic if you have a family history, according to the Canadian Cancer Society only about 5% of all breast cancers are attributed to the BRCA mutation and not everyone who has it will develop breast cancer. Unfortunately for me though, this meant that my odds of getting breast cancer before the age of 70 skyrocketed from 12% like the general population to 50%-85%. Those odds clearly weren’t stacked in my favour. So I made the hard decision with help of my oncologist and support of my family and friends to do the only logical thing and get rid of my boobs.
Technically now my odds are down to 2% and I will have customized perfect boobs, right down to my nipples. Why would I not do this?? And trust me I don’t miss having to jump up and down like a weirdo in a change room when trying on sports bras to make sure I won’t hit myself in the face with a boob while running.
Also, opting for this got me out of radiation. This was my individual case and everyone is different and has different treatment regimes. I put it off for about 10 months after I finished chemo because I needed to have some semblance of normality back and not see a hospital for at least a little bit. I traveled, ran a personal best in a half marathon (1:46 baby!) and just really had fun feeling my body come back. I decided to do the surgery in the fall of this year, simply for the reason it would then be out of the way and I would have nothing left tied to cancer except for memories and lessons. I wanted to have a day I could finally say Goodbye cancer and hello to the rest of my life!
This was one of the hardest choices I had to make. I really struggled with it. I loved my boobs and there isn’t a ton of awareness about reconstruction. I was kind of attached to them. I didn’t want to be ‘deformed’ or become unattractive while topless to men and I was worried how it would affect my activity level. But, I stepped back and realized they are only breasts and nipples. I am not a woman or attractive because of them. In 10 years gravity will have shown its effects and I will wish for more pert breasts anyways. It’s my life and I wanted to live it in a carefree and spirited way, which may not be possible with the ever present shadow of fear that I could get breast cancer again next month. I haven’t looked back …mostly cause with my rock hard expanders if I do and accidentally walk into someone I would probably be charged with assault with a deadly weapon. Yes. They are THAT hard!
Finally, there is a wonderful fairly new annual event that happens throughout the world in the fall called BRA day (Breast Reconstruction Awareness day). It brings together top plastic surgeons, women who’ve had various reconstruction, vendors for prosthesis and specialty bra’s, etc. They even have a room where women of varying ages, weights and reconstructive procedures are topless so you can see and ask any question you may have (sorry men, this is for women only). It quelled a lot of my apprehension just because I could see that it was possible to have amazing looking boobs reconstructed, and I was secretly (shhh), looking forward to being able to wear backless dresses and not have bikini ties cut into my neck.
Until next time.