Friday, May 20, 2005
What About the Boobies?
I know! There has been a distinct lack of boobie talk on this site lately. How will I ever attract traffic to this site without the obligatory use of words like boobs, boobies, or breasts?

I haven't mentioned the reconstruction process in quite a while. I completed the expansion process in late March filling them to 610 cc's. While I am still most comfortable wearing the prosthesis to fill out my clothing, I have reached capacity. I have been in a "resting" period these last two months adapting to the expansion prior to placement of the permanent implants. I think the permanent implants will look and feel somewhat different and for this I am grateful. I am not so pleased with the feel or the placement of the expanders.

I see my doctor on June 13th to check things out and schedule surgery. I am looking forward to crossing this milestone off my list and moving on. I'm tired of my "breasts" and all things related. First it was the surgery, then it was finding the prosthesis (and insurance hassles), then it was the biweekly expansions, and next surgery. Don't get me wrong, I am glad I am having reconstruction. It is amazing how much more you notice your stomach when there are no breasts obscuring your view. Surprising to me, the social and psychological aspects have been more trying at times than I anticipated.

The other day I was pulled over by a police officer for not securing my seat belt. I was only traveling less than a mile down the road on a residential street and opted not to wear it for comfort sake. Before I get the safety lectures, I understand the potential repercussions of this act. I opt to trade the risks to avoid the pain of the seatbelt against my breast bone. That area has been sensitive since surgery and during the expansions. Just to keep your mind at ease, I do wear my seatbelt for longer trips and anything involving a freeway. And did I mention I was pulled over in the City that is also my employer and the whole thing occurred in front of the police station which is also across the street from the university where I am an adjunct professor? The officer was doing his job and I don't begrudge him his duty to pull me over for a citation. While I would have rather gotten the ticket and moved on sheepishly, I tried to answer his question, "Why aren't you wearing a seatbelt?" Of course in my embarrassment a tear or two escaped.

By the time I got to the office I was more embarrassed. I was joking with a co-worker that I did a total "chick thing" when I got pulled over. His reply was, "Did you show him cleavage?" To which I turned away, went back to my office and cried. It didn't end there. Later in the afternoon we were celebrating a co-worker's birthday with a chocolate cake. One of the guys turns to me and says, "Got milk?" imitating the numerous milk commercials seen in print and on television over the past few years. Of course, in my now identifiable hormonal state, I replied with an emphatic "No," as a tear silently fell down my cheek.

I realized I have started thinking about the perception and social importance of breasts since Rae wrote about her insurance woes as she faces ovarian cancer treatment. Is it strange that legislation that states 100% of breast cancer care and reconstruction costs (including protecting symmetry) are to be covered by insurance, yet Rae's insurance increases exponentially due to multiple claims involving her ovarian cancer care. I started to wonder if this legislation was passed by a congress dominated by men because of the social and sexual status of breasts. The justification for this legislation was the psychological trauma and physical deformities experienced by so many women who experienced mastectomies (unilateral or bilateral) and the impact on quality of life. Can't the same be said about ovaries? Or is it that they aren't physically seen and adored, and, therefore, not as important since they don't require reconstruction?

Maybe I am reading too much into it and perhaps I have misinterpreted the legislation. Either way, the emphasis on breasts is astonishing. Am I getting on a soapbox because I don't have them any longer? Maybe or maybe not. I may be more aware because of the focus I have had to place on my breasts this last year. I would be lying if I said I didn't miss my breasts and the natural, comfortable feeling that natural breasts have. However, the breasts weren't more important than getting rid of the cancer and reducing my risks for future recurrences. In my head, I am just trying to find a balance. I certainly won't find it in the media or in public perception. I don't criticize anyone's personal preferences. Who can explain the reason for attraction to any thing/part/person? I just wonder why breasts have become an alter at which many worship. Why does an increase in size relate to an increase in status and/or beauty?

Most days, dealing with breast cancer and reconstruction are very clinical for me. I have my reflective and deep moments, but I don't often have lots of drama and trauma over the mental aspect. Part of my current reflections can be attributed to a hormonal surge that have sent my emotions and moods swirling into space, exploding, and showering me like the sparks off a bottle rocket. Like my quest before cancer, I am just searching for peace of mind and peace of heart. These days, it just takes a little digging in different directions. Y
Written by Jeannette Vagnozzi
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Name: Jeannette
Location: Southern California, USA

This is my story about being diagnosed with breast cancer at age 39. I thought I was out of the woods, but four years late it came back. This is my quest to be a two-time survivor.

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