I love having no breasts! 5 words that I never in all my 56 years thought that I’d think, let alone put down on paper.
I was diagnosed with Grade 3 breast cancer in my left breast in January 2016, following a routine mammogram. Two months later, in March, I had a left mastectomy which left me with a single GG cup breast and an overwhelming feeling of unhappiness, not to mention being totally lopsided.
I had totally freaked out when my surgeon told me bluntly that I would have to have my left breast removed. This was one of my worst anxieties come to life. Little did I know that this moment would totally change the way I thought about my body and make me think clearly and rationally about the choices that I wanted to make for my next surgical procedure.
My health care professionals assumed that I would want a delayed DIEP reconstruction of my left breast; an offer that I declined. Instead, I decided that I would live as a uniboober, wearing a very large and heavy breast prosthesis on the left side of my chest. The idea of requesting a second mastectomy so that I could be symmetrical started to form in my mind after a few months of lopsidedness. It took a little while, but in November 2017 my surgeon agreed to an elective contralateral prophylactic mastectomy for symmetry.
It’s so important that patients are presented with all of the available options so that each individual can make the choice that is right for them. I felt that I was pushed down the reconstructive surgery route and, while this is right for some women, it wasn’t right for me. Choice is the most important part of this discussion. A woman’s right to have autonomy over her own body. And a woman’s right to feel listened to and supported by her health care professionals.
I’m happy living as a flat woman without breasts and here are some of the reasons:
- I took control of a very bad situation and turned the negative into a positive.
- I feel empowered by making the decisions about my body. I love the feelings of being confident, brave and strong that have flowed from that decision making.
- I enjoy challenging society’s definition of beauty.
- I’ve discovered that having breasts didn’t define me as a woman. I can be just as feminine and beautiful without them.
- I never liked my large breasts – I’m only 5’2” – and I feel now that I finally have the body that I always should have had.
- I don’t get stared at anymore because of my large chest. Amazingly, people don’t look at me anymore even though I’m flat – they just don’t notice. Once I realised this it boosted my confidence and self-body image even more.
- I really like the way my body looks now, and I like my scars – they’re part of my history and remind me of what I’ve gone through.
- I’m not carrying around nearly 2kg in weight on my chest any more – moving is so much easier and more pleasurable.
- I’ve been freed from wearing a bra & all that entails. But I have the choice to wear a bra and have whatever size breasts I want. I’ve got some lovely C cup prostheses.
- I can wear whatever style of clothes I like, and I think that most styles look great on me now.
- I’m able to play sport without feeling like my chest was so constricted by my sports bra that I couldn’t breathe.
I could go on, but I think this illustrates how I feel about living without breasts. I understand that this is my choice and that others choose to live as uniboobers or to have reconstructive surgery. The options are there for every woman facing mastectomy. We just need to be given all of the options in order to make the choice that is right for us.
I’m Juliet and am 56. I was diagnosed with breast cancer in January 2016. In case you’re interested in the pathology, my tumour was 70mm, Grade 3. Mildly ER+, PR- and HER2+. I had a lumpectomy, mastectomy, chemotherapy and Herceptin. My active treatment finished in April 2017 and I am now cancer free. I had a second mastectomy for symmetry in November 2017 and am living flat.