Three years ago, I was diagnosed with Stage One breast cancer.
Now, your doctor can prepare you for what to expect after a mastectomy. Your infusion team can prepare you for chemo. But nothing prepares you for the reconstruction surgery failing. Or the horrific infection which turns your nipple-less, swollen incision into a Franken-boob. I could have tried reconstruction again, but I didn’t have the heart. What if it failed a second time and left a gaping hole in my chest?
I didn’t expect how much I’d miss Lefty.
Now with a flat tire on one side, I never realized how I depended on her — i.e. for leverage, like when I unconsciously wedged her against the laundry basket. I never thought I’d have to pack a spare boob, or a swim boob when I went on vacation.
Although I was lucky, my health insurance paid the $200 plus for my “prosthesis” (Shit, I wear a prosthesis!) and for my special bras with the nifty slot to slip in said prosthesis, Robo-Lefty wasn’t what you’d call comfy. Made of silicone, it was heavy, cumbersome and pressed on the jagged scar that etched across half of my rib cage.
In fact, my “natural” breastform felt so unnatural that I usually went without it at home. I began to take sadistic glee in the shocked looks it got from the UPS guy when I had to answer the door unexpectedly, sans fake breast.
Jane McGrath’s best friend Tracy Bevan explains how the McGrath Foundation began and the work it does. Post continues after audio.
Then my friend Chiara, who has a bitching blog called Beauty Through The Beast (about fighting breast cancer with style in mind), told me about a free, prosthetic alternative called Awesome Breastforms. It sounded too good to be true: comfortable, attractive bra inserts for breast cancer survivors like me. I got on the computer, checked out their website, and immediately put in an order.
I’d almost forgotten about my mail-order breast until a small, nondescript package arrived from an unknown address out west. My first thought: Merry Christmas, here’s some anthrax for ya.
But instead, it was my truly Awesome Breastform.
As I opened the box from Mary Jane S. in Montana, I felt special, cherished. The second I slipped it into my cup, I felt even more cradled, comforted, and cared for. The thought that a complete stranger would crochet something to make me feel beautiful — whole, like a woman again — moved me to tears.
Besides my knit breastform (I picked the “wild & crazy” pattern), the package included extra stuffing and washing instructions on a handwritten note from Mary Jane, thanking me for allowing her to share Awesome Breastforms with me. “Made for you with love” was her signoff.
I was floored. And I swear, I could feel the love in every stitch.