You’ve Survived Breast Cancer, But Are You Ok?

It would be nice to think that after you have battled breast cancer that you could feel the same emotional strength as you did before, but often the reality is a very different story. Initially, I did feel a range of wonderful feelings like relief and gratitude and I felt blessed to have developed a very different outlook on what is important in life. But psychologically I felt that life was not the same post cancer. Although people will always respond differently, one thing for certain is that those who receive a cancer diagnosis are forced to face many emotions without warning, as with any sudden disease. Naturally, feelings such as stress, anxiety, fear and uncertainty tend to live in the back of your mind during this time, whether you acknowledge them to be there or not. Survival mode certainly takes over well and truly when fighting cancer and in my case, I really feel that the emotions probably got put to the side until it was gone. I’m not sure if that was the best way for me to deal with them or if it is necessarily the norm, but to be honest it was my instinctive way of coping. I was facing something for which I had never been able to prepare. I didn’t know what was right, but what I did know was that I had a family and a life worth fighting for.

I’ve been cancer free for nearly 5 years now and I am very proud to say that I am genuinely at peace with and have adjusted to my new body, how I dress it and the choice I’ve made. But every now and then I can be blindsided. For example, you may have accepted the passing of a loved one and be at peace, but all of a sudden out of the blue something can trigger the sadness of that loss and it can really take you by surprise. The same happens for women who have lost their breasts – out of the blue you really wish you had those boobs back. What I have come to realise is that I have probably had pretty unrealistic expectations of myself. Really, I am still navigating this whole breast cancer/no boobs thing and that’s totally ok. It’s ok not to be ok some days.

Being a naturally upbeat person, I guess I have been a bit naive to the fact that these feelings might pop up at any time and in the strangest places. More recently, I have had periods of time where I haven’t liked how my chest looked in anything and that’s not a cry for a compliment. I have looked at myself and felt obviously deformed. I have hated having no boobs but I don’t want to reconstruct. So where did that leave me? I just didn’t know what to do or how to feel. Those feelings then led to me being incredibly self-conscious about my appearance. I would notice people glancing at my chest and internally I’d be thinking “Were they just curious as to what my chest looks like now or were they thinking what I was wearing looked terrible without boobs?”

Honestly though, I have had to make a conscious effort not to let my mind think like that. At the end of the day, there are going to be women with very different opinions on the importance of visible breasts. What I need to focus on is not them, but what matters to me. The truth is, I want to make this no boob thing work, I really do. What is a guarantee to every breast cancer situation however, is that the drastic surgical steps such as a mastectomy and/or reconstruction can have a prolonged impact on body image and someone’s sense of self.

So while I feel like I’ve been battling psychologically with my appearance over the last 5 years (as would women who have chosen to reconstruct, adjusting to a different chest that they ever knew), I’m guessing that I’m definitely not alone. I think it’s safe to say that women who have had breast cancer are going to be a little less self-confident in their appearance. What it comes down to is that they need to feel accepted in how they now look, whatever decision they made. They need support from those around them and those regular, ‘Are you ok?’ conversations. It is definitely not the norm for women of my age, but I have chosen to stay flat and I am ok. I am more than ok. I’m not saying that people don’t, but what is important to me (and I’d imagine is the same for others is my situation) is that those around me support my decision as much as I have, despite the fact that it might not be what they think I should have done or what they would have done. No one will ever truly know what they would do until they are faced with it.

Anyway, enough of that….Let’s get onto checking out some wonderful items to suit our beautiful breastless chests….

I love this recent jumpsuit I bought for my brother’s 50th from Mister Zimi (currently on sale).

Mister Zimi

Siblings minus 1 (Matthew)
Greg’s 50th

 

Here are some other great finds from other websites (and the best thing is they are mostly on sale). I really love the bright, floral patterns at the moment. They are awesome for distracting people from the chest and I just can’t get enough of them.

The Iconic

St Frock

Portmans

Petal & Pup

So to all of you brave breastless women, are you ok? Never hesitate to make contact with me about anything, I am here to for you.

I am breastless and beautiful.

Love, Gen x

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