Tit for tat

“Hundreds but no ‘hi Moms’ or little hearts,” deadpanned Dr. Beber “Just nipples,” was his answer, to my question, of just how many tattoos he has done in the past?  It’s really going to happen. The final phase of adding a nipple and tattooing an areola on my new breast mound is going to happen sooner than I expected.

I’m trying to not get overly excited, because I’ve been coughing for five weeks (although less often and less severely than the first three weeks of this bronchial thingy) and I know, from reading the pre-surgical admin literature my surgery could be postponed because of a cough. It’s hard for me not to get ahead of myself with joy.

Mostly, I imagine myself being comfortable enough with my body not to have to conceal myself before and after swim classes. I have been taking swimming lessons again and finally I am confident enough to have moved along onto Adult Level 2 classes. It has been a great source of physical activity especially while recovering from residual chemo pain in my legs. Just last week, I was consciously aware my toes and outer sides of my feet were not “crushed” when I walked down the hallway from my bedroom to my bathroom.  It made me smile to know these things are slowly coming back to normal. On the other hand, I suspect my immune system is still not 100% as I’ve caught three colds within a two-month period. Otherwise I feel physically great!

Starting to swim I imagined myself getting stronger from the front and back crawl but never really walked through the actual routine of it all.  The getting dressed and undressed in a locker room full of two-breasted naked women was daunting to deal with. To prevent anyone seeing my chest I would usually put my swimsuit on under my clothes before heading to the community pool. I bought a swimsuit with breast padding to prevent my one nipple showing but more importantly no one can see my nipple-less breast. The most challenging part of swimming lessons for me was showering and removing my swimsuit without anyone seeing my chest.

I usually leave the showers still in suit before any of the women head back to the lockers. Once at the lockers I quickly fetch my camisole – never a bra, which takes too many seconds to fidget with before any of the ladies come back to their lockers. A hoodie, jeans, coat, and shoes complete my getaway outfit from the locker room and on my way home. Does this sound overly self-conscious the way it sounds to me? I really cannot wait until my nipple is attached. Hopefully, I will get back to being carefree in a locker room after this final stage with reconstructive breast surgery.

This procedure is called nipple-share and you can just imagine what this means. I still throw up a little bit thinking about it but I want the symmetry back. The areola will be tattooed by Dr. B, which also frightens me. He’s a phenomenal plastic surgeon, from what I have seen of his work on me, but a tattoo artist? I remember asking him months ago who will tattoo the areola and he gave me a ME-who-else-do-you-think look while pointing his finger towards himself. Plastic surgeon AND tattoo artist, Dr. B’s resume is certainly more diverse than mine.

With this final surgery approaching I feel it is almost time to wrap up this blog. It feels like the time is near because I am happier these days, lighter in my thoughts.

Part of me is sad to see this end because this blog was a huge part of my recovery from breast cancer… I’m a bit choked up knowing it will conclude with one or two entries after this one.

It is always on the back of my mind to revisit older entries; to re-edit, spellcheck, fix grammatical errors, and whatnot. However, the thought of rereading such a tumultuous chapter in my life still reduces me to tears. Certain moments playback painfully in my mind. The day of my first ever mammogram when Landau left abruptly out of the room to speak to the radiology doctor. I cringe at the moment I realized they would not be performing a biopsy unless they were pretty certain it was cancer they saw in the images. Dr. C telling me the lumpectomy would not be feasible and we had to go with a mastectomy was another mortifying blow. Some of you, if not all, laughed when I wrote I defiantly, told Dr. B I was keeping my breast. Really, it was not as funny while I was saying it to him, when you breakdown the reasoning behind getting reconstructive breast surgery. To condone breast reconstruction I was giving them the right to mutilate my body, in an effort to get rid of the cancer, and then to rebuild the breast. All in hopes, it will look and feel just the same as my old breast full without all the tumours. Even though my new boob looks great – so far, I replay the conversation with Dr. B in my mind and still my answer never changes. Even knowing what I know now. I would still give him the same answer. Getting rid of cancer, getting rid of your breast, these are not choices. It is something you do so UNWILLINGLY but there are a slew of, family, friends, doctors, nurses, health practitioners, hospital staff, cancer survivors who helps you along to your recovery. This to me has been the best part.

I’m reliving a lot of these memories more these past couple few days. A friend passed my name along to an acquaintance because she was just recently diagnosed with breast cancer. We have emailed back and forth, she seems stressed and probably beside herself with fear. She indicated she didn’t know if she wanted to meet me yet. I told her I understood, I would be here when she was ready to meet or if she just needed advice via email or a phone call.

Upon receiving her email update I realized she wasn’t in the middle of going through this cancer process but still at the point of searching for a second opinion. It sounded familiar that her second opinion did not oppose the first opinion and it is still heartbreaking to have to relive this through someone else. Sensing someone is trying to find a way out of this nightmare.

Her email indicated she would be searching out a plastic surgeon to discuss her options. Of course, I highly recommended her to Dr. B. Shortly afterwards she emailed me back to finally meet with her privately. I was excited to set a date with her, not to become her confidante (although, I would) or to divulge my whole cancer experience but because I finally have all the answers to all the questions I needed way back when I spoke with a couple of breast cancer survivors, Susie and Emily. Even though I know she probably won’t feel it or see it, I am confident my words will be true when I tell her, “You will be fine.”

You. Will. Be. Fine.

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About

navigating my way through cancer with laughter, fear, and madness.

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3 comments on “Tit for tat
  1. I am still thinking of you… Continue to be that support and inspiration for others! You are serving others very well with your own experience… Hugs…. Cinzia

  2. I think you should continue blogging offering insight and support to others. Stear your focus in a different direction but continue!

    • notso buddha says:

      Thanks for your support, Cinzia. I’m trying to write out what may be the final entry. This blog will end but I may start up another blog on something else but will let my followers here know about it when I figure that bit out.

      I just feel I set out to blog to try to gain back some sanity from the stress of breast cancer. The stress and what I wanted has pretty much been completed and now I want to move on.

      I would want anyone, who is going through cancer reading these entries, to know that it is possible to move on and feel as a good friend put it, ‘this too shall pass…”

      With that said, I would not be able to move on without the support I have had from people reading this blog. Hope you and others will understand.

      xo
      Norine

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