In this moment, we (Scott and I) often find ourselves laughing at things that are rather absurd, but real none-the-less. I recognize it clearly as a coping mechanism, and something that is definitely needed. But I’m also aware of how easily something funny can turn into something not funny.
I recall back in my undergrad days, one of my friends had cancer. She had cancer before I knew her, and had a re-occurrence. I did not know her well, but well enough that I remember her clearly. Last I had heard she had two beautiful children and was doing well. I mention her because of a particular story. At her wedding shower (she had recently been diagnosed with the re-occurrence), we were laughing about this or that, and for some reason the jokes turned to wigs. There was laughing at first, but then a sudden transition to tears. This is what I’m aware of every time I laugh about something. I’m aware that at any moment that laugh will turn to a cry.
Today’s laugh was about prosthetic breasts. I never even occurred to me that one would make special prosthetic breasts for swimming. They even make aerodynamic (or I guess aquadynamic) prosthetic breasts. Who knew? I was reminded of Aimee Mullins TED talk about her 12 pairs of legs. She talks about how having various legs allows her to be different heights. She talks about legs as things that allow her to specialize her superpowers (when she wants to run fast, she has special legs for that). So that got me thinking about fake boobs. You see, if I don’t opt for reconstruction, and if I end up with cancer in both then I too could have multiple sets of prosthetics for multiple purposes. I could have bigger boobs to fill out my favourite shirt, or smaller ones when I want to appear more professional. Then of course, it occurs to me, that people who saw me regularly would find it rather odd that my chest size kept changing, and how would you go clothes shopping? Which boobs would you wear? And if I were to get into competitive swimming, would the boobs I choose to wear affect how fast I swim? Would that be considered cheating?
In all seriousness, I am thankful that the surgeon highlighted that a mastectomy is a real possibly. Not that I want one (the whole idea scares the crap out of me), but that I have a little more time to mentally prepare for it. When the diagnosis is in, and the treatment options are presented, I will be better prepared to make a decision. I at least will have had a chance to explore the options. It never would have occurred to me to search the Internet for breast prosthetics. My fear of being ‘lopsided’ does have some solutions – but frankly, given that I hate wearing bras, I’m still dealing with choosing between two bad options. Reconstruction means more surgery, more complicated surgery, and more healing time. No reconstruction means a life of prosthetics (at least for formal settings).
On a related note, Scott and I went for a walk around Sausalito on Saturday. I notice that I was looking at other women’s breasts. I had never really taken notice of other women’s breast before – but now, I find myself drawn to them. I am looking. I’m not even sure what I’m thinking when I’m looking, but I am certainly finding myself drawn to look. It is all very odd. Perhaps I’m admiring? Perhaps window shopping? Who knows.