Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Feeling 'normal' without breasts with some help

In August of 2015, just before I was officially diagnosed and just after the lumps nearly materialized overnight... I had an inkling that I might have cancer. For an entire month, I spent the daylight hours trying not to stress about my situation and my evenings lying in bed burdened with worry. It was then that I happened to catch an standup comedian on HBO named Tig Notaro. She joked about her breast cancer diagnosis, she took off her shirt halfway through her set and performed the remainder topless. Her mastectomy scars disappeared as she continued; they vanished. I and the audience ignored what we were at first shocked by and learned to laugh with the topless, breastless woman. I admired her while fearful of what awaited me.

I knew I'd never be as normal as I once was, but she helped me to feel that this new body I would soon have wasn't quite so horrendous. She was the first person to help me feel normal with no breasts even before I had lost them.

Then, I too decided to try and go topless with mastectomy scars. I'd learned through fellow cyclists that it was perfectly legal for women (or anyone for that matter) to go topless in PA (exceptions for State Parks like Point State). I could sun myself topless in Schenley park? With some encouragement and reassurance I did so. It's rather refreshing and feeling the sun on one's chest is a feeling I'd never experienced before. I truly enjoyed it.

I'm not ashamed of how I look now, but I fully understand it might make folks a bit uncomfortable at first if they see someone with the scars I sport now. On the rare occasions I've sunbathed topless, I've done so in a location fairly remote from others. I plan on doing it in the future.

I also have Tig Notaro to thank for feeling that the humor that we used to approach this 
illness was normal. I wondered aloud where my breasts were now: "You think they're in a landfill somewhere? What did they do with them?" I felt relieved after learning that she too had this discussion with her significant other. "Do you think they just threw them in the trash?" "I sure hope so; recycling's not an option." 

If you choose to, you can click on the link below and see what cancer does to the human body. Be forewarned, you may find the images disturbing, shocking, etc...or you might not... you might be enlightened, moved or inspired... and that would be my intent. However, if you're offended by the images in the link below, I feel badly for you.


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