Friday, October 4, 2013

Fixing the Crater Boob

If you read blogs by women facing breast cancer, something I'm sure you all do for kicks and giggles during your free time, you'll find that many women post at least once about sadness regarding the loss of their breasts or the change in their natural appearance. In fact, a local friend who blogs about her experiences unabashedly admits to crying in front of the mirror about her new appearance. Although I respect this perspective, I couldn't be more different. I don't care. I can remember crying three times in the past two years: the first was when I found out about having cancer and I was worried about how it would affect Paul and the girls, and the other two were in the bathroom feeling painfully sick during a/c chemo. When I look in the mirror, I think things like, "It's crazy how quickly I've adjusted to my look without nipples!" or "Isn't the human body amazing that you can cut it open and then sew it up like a shirt and it heals itself back together!?!" or "I wonder why that skin is sticking to the bottom of the crater?" (Answer: scar tissue.)

I know I'm a bit of an oddity among women in my nonchalance about my appearance. But I actually take pride in the fact that I'm confident enough to be photographed in my bathing suit, bald and steroid swollen up 18 pounds, and have it posted on Facebook. See:

Now I have to bring up our friend the crater boob. With it, I've performed all of my duties as a mom, wife, and friend. I've completed a triathlon and a 10k. I don't think I've been judged or lost any friends due to my lopsidedness. And I can still look in the mirror and smile.

So it is with quite a bit of guilt and embarrassment that I make this vain announcement: I'm having surgery to fix the crater boob on Monday. I'm actually having the other implant taken out, excess skin removed, and both sides pretty much flattened out.

My primary reason is that the mathematical principal of symmetry appeals to me. Although most people, including me, are not precisely symmetrical, this seems vastly different than one ear being slightly higher or a mole on one side that isn't on the other. Bras don't fit and shirts are lopsided. "But you're alive and happy!" I argue with myself. I have no response, but somehow I've decided to go ahead with this surgery.

A second reason for this decision is that I have learned that I prefer my natural body to silicon. There's nothing specifically wrong with the implant, but for someone who doesn't wear make-up and has never dyed her hair, having a big silicon breast seems just as hypocritical as me having Monday's surgery.

Finally, and this is the most selfish reason: I just want small boobs. I wanted them originally, but when Dr. Baum decided to recreate what I had before I didn't complain. Healthy was most important. But here's another opportunity for the small boobs I've always wanted.

See, I'm riddled with guilt.

To explain what's going to happen, I'm going to put a nudie picture right here on the main page of the blog. Sorry Ron and any other men reading. I'll crop it and make it small so it barely even looks like a breast. Here goes:

On Monday afternoon, Dr. Baum* is going to cut open the seam down in the bottom of the crater. Then he'll scrape the scar tissue out and cut out the surrounding skin. Finally, he'll sew top and bottom skin together, flattening out the appearance. Using that right boob as a guide, he'll cut open the left side and remove the implant, and do his best to make them match. Then Flatty Shari will wake up, hopefully not be in too much pain, and go home to resume normal life.

I've checked with Dr. Alpert (radiation oncologist), and even she seems confident that the radiated skin that caused so many problems will heal appropriately.

Since I've been feeling so hypocritical about this elective surgery, I've procrastinated blogging about this surgery, now only 72 hours away. I know you're going to ask how you can help. Caring for the girls on Monday is covered (thanks, Karrie), and a ride to gymnastics on Tuesday is, too (thanks, Sarah). We haven't lined up any meals for next week, and a ride for preschool on Wednesday might be in order, but this operation doesn't award me any special treatment. It's all vanity, I tell 'ya!

*I did go for a second opinion, and this new plastic surgeon was better with the whole bedside manner thing, but he suggested doing the very same thing. Dr. Baum has been with me the whole way along and is a great surgeon.


  1. Been thinking a bit this afternoon, and there were three more crying episodes in doctors' offices and during chemo infusions. But those don't count because it's a well known fact that medical buildings cause tears.

  2. While it’s great that you have embraced the new you, the hard reality is spoken by many this devastation cancer brings. Crying in front of the mirror or in the shower doesn’t make us weak, it shows that we have been strong for so long and we need a release.

    1. No judgment. It's so hard on everyone, and we all handle it differently. You and I couldn't be more different in personality, but we both choose to blog with our perspective to help ourselves through this crazy situation. I'm so glad you've found that crying helps you.