Yesterday I went shopping for my new breast. Since my mastectomy, I've just been going around lopsided, in camisoles with shelf bras. Now it's time to get a bra and start looking a little more, um, symmetrical. So that means a prosthetic breast and a mastectomy bra.
I received excellent service at Bare Basics in Steveston, British Columbia. Arlene was kind, supportive, and full of good, pragmatic, advice. I have friends that buy all their bras there and I know why. A good bra fitter is the secret to finding a good bra, and a good bra can be a wonderful thing. (Ok - I'll say goodbye now to any guys that may have been reading.) After trying a few different variations, Arlene found me a very close match amongst their breast forms and helped me pick the bra that would give me the best shape and support. She gave me advice about care and a reminder that I needed to file my insurance claim soon in order to be within the six-month window we have in Canada.
So, I'm home now with my good bra. Good right? Problem is, I don't much love this breast. I had been hoping a pretty bra would help me feel, well, normal. But the bra ain't so pretty and the breast ain't my breast. I must have been pinning a lot of hope on this new purchase, because the let down I felt was immense.Wiith clothes on over this new breast, I look much like I used to. But the process of getting it all on, lining it up, shifting everything around, feeling the dense, heavyness of it, and then taking if off again...the sadness of it hit me so suddenly that my response was physical. This isn't my breast. My breast is gone. Gone. And in its place, under this fleshy, heavy, plastic coated chicken cutlet, I have a long puckered scar, a bump, and some other odd little, well, bulges. And as I'm looking at this altered terrain, this same terrain that I have been washing, moisturizing, and massaging - but visually avoiding - for the past 6 months, I must finally come to terms with it. I am different now, and always will be.
The tears flowed out of me in a way they haven't in months. My husband was great. He said all the right things. He put it all in perspective and said all the things I already knew. I am alive. Different, but alive. And that is worth it. But I suddenly feel so sad, something I haven't allowed myself to feel for a long time. I realized that for the last eleven months I have been trying to get back to something to which there is no getting back. And realistically, I always knew this. But there is nothing like wrestling with a concrete thing to make you realize you are actually wrestling with something intangible, internal.
So instead of trying to fight my way back to what used to be normal, I guess I am going to have to face what my my new normal is. And that may just be the secret behind coping.