on going flat

Reconstruction was not something I ever considered, so there’s not a long decision-making process, details of battling pros and cons, hours of introspection regarding body image and feminity, to talk about.

Simply, I love my chest and I will be sad to see my shape change, but, like I said in the previous post, I want this to be it.  Done.  No more surgery.

Breast reconstruction involves placing tissue expanders under the muscle of the chest and slowly filling them, over months, to create spaces.  Then another surgery is performed to put the actual implants in.  I’ve been told the process is painful, and it definitely lengthens the post-mastectomy recovery time.  Sometimes they can use tissue from the woman’s own abdomen or back, but again, ever more surgery.

Also there is a greater risk of infection, no guarantee that they will look like I want, and they, silicone or saline implants, have to be replaced eventually–sometimes as early as ten years.

I will look different in clothes.  That’s okay.  I’m not that busty anyway and societal expectations of how “real” women are supposed to look have never mattered that much to me.  I can put some padding in a bra if I really want my appearance to resemble how I look today.  Obviously in a bathing suit at the swimming pool will be a different story, but I think anyone who happens to notice will stare for a second, then carry on with their lives.  I’ll be judged a cancer survivor or someone with a really small bust.  If anyone thinks my body looks freakish, unwomanly, discomfiting, or weird, that is their opinion, their narrowness, and it will literally not mean a fucking thing to me.

I will look different naked.  That makes me sad.  But sad and flat and cancer-free is going to be okay.  Eventually I’ll be less sad.  And if I stay cancer-free, I will be very happy.

Then when I’m healed and the scars are less angry, I’m going to get a killer chest tattoo.



3 thoughts on “on going flat

  1. Gretchen

    You are so brave, Eileen. I love your tattoo idea and I’m sure it will be very cool. I don’t blame you for not rawanting to go through all that painful reconstructive surgery. You will always be beautiful.

  2. Rhana Burgess

    Your body- your decision. I applaud you. The most important thing is that you remove the cancer, and stay alive and healthy. You are lucky to have Stuart , and your daughter. I am divorced, and I would never want to go through that alone…. Be well ❤

  3. Alicia Woodward Litton

    Hey Eileen, Jason Woodward’s sister Alicia here. I hope it’s ok that I’m replying. Cancer sucks–I haven’t had it myself but watched my mother in law go through it. She is breast free and cancer free and as beautiful as ever. I am thinking of you and are excited for you to get that killer tattoo when you’re ready.


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