A mastectomy is an amputation plain and simple. An appendage, if you will, has been removed from the body. Obviously it’s not as traumatic or life altering as the loss of a limb, something you rely on to perform every day tasks. I don’t know of many women who use their breasts to perform every day tasks. At least not personally.
One does have to learn to adjust, however. Some of the more chesty women I know who had one breast removed had balance problems at first. Their center of gravity seemed to be skewed directly proportionate to the size of the breast removed. I was not what you would call a buxom woman to begin with so I never had the problem of veering off to the side while trying to walk a straight line. Well, not because of that, anyway.
I noticed it when I reached across my body with my left arm but that eventually became “normal”. Nowhere did I noticed the loss more acutely than when I was trying to sleep. I’m a tummy sleeper and I had to learn to hold the pillow just the right way so I wouldn’t roll to the left. As with all things, I finally adapted and it became second nature.
Now that I’ve had the reconstruction I find myself having to “reach around” my left breast which seems so funny to me. My pre-BC boobs very seldom ever got in my way. But last night was the first time since the surgery that I decided to try sleeping on my tummy. It didn’t last long at all. I’m back to square one and am going to have to retrain myself again.
On A More Serious Note
I know you all have heard about Elizabeth Edwards’ metastasis to her bones. No matter how good a prognosis a breast cancer patient has (or any cancer, for that matter) there’s always the fear of spread lurking in the deepest recesses of your mind.
I have a particular mechanism that is both beneficial and detrimental to me. I push unpleasantness so far back that sometimes I don’t even realize it’s there. It has served me well over the years and helped me to deal with things rationally and straight on. But holding big, scary things in means they’re just going to grow until they break out eventually.
I broke like a water main when the Edwards made their announcement Thursday. I desperately hurt for both of them, their worst fears being realized. And I cried for me and every other woman I know – and those I don’t – who have been cursed with the disease. So many strides have been made in breast cancer treatment, but there’s still not a cure and that’s a scary thought.
Several people have said they need to quit the campaigning and focus on their family. That is certainly what I would want to do in the same situation. But we all deal with things so differently and it could very well be that keeping her focus on something other than her disease will be just what she needs. Not that focusing on her family isn’t a good thing – it’s vital. But focusing solely on the family only brings your own mortality closer to the surface.
Regardless of personal or political beliefs the Edwards deserve our thoughts, our prayers and our admiration. They are both a good example of strength in the face of adversity.