I am coming to appreciate the roles of the different surgeons. I have not yet met with a plastic surgeon (PS), but will probably set that appointment up in the next few weeks just to get the conversation started. With breast cancer in the US, you are usually dealing with at least two surgeries. The first surgery is done by the breast surgeon (BS). This surgeon specializes in removing the cancer. You can have either a mastectomy (where they remove the entire breast) or a lumpectomy (where they just remove the cancer). That is an overly simplified explanation – as both surgeries depend on what you plan to do after – that is the reconstruction or no reconstruction. The two surgeons work together to help give you the look you want post-surgery. Some of the choices your breast surgeon makes depends directly on what you want the final outcome to be.
So, it occurs to me after looking at several pictures of not too nice results post mastectomy/lumpectomy surgery, that I want a plastic surgeon that has experience doing trans female-male top surgery. You see, if the plastic surgeon knows how to do trans surgery well, then they would appreciate the importance of appearance. And if they have experience with female-male trans surgery then they would get what it means to be flat. I’m surprise to realize that appearance matters to me. I want to look good naked … I’m OK with being flat – not having breasts – so I don’t think reconstruction makes sense for me (at least that is my current thinking) – but I do want to look good naked. I want to be able to look at myself in the mirror and be proud of what I see (rather than sad). I’ve been warned never to look down … the downward view of your breasts is the view the only you see, and it will never be the same … everyone else sees the outward view!
One thing that I find very interesting in this process is that I have a greatly improved body image. I would not have expected that result. I’m a lot less vain now – and a lot less worried about my other lumps and bumps – but I do want to be able to go topless. I don’t want to have to feel like I need to cover up because I have odd disfigured lumps and bumps where my breasts used to be.
I’m reminded of my early days when one breast started growing before the other (midway through grade six if I recall correctly). I found myself wearing training bras because I did not want to look lopsided – I always used one of the stalls to change in PE class, cause I didn’t want the other girls to notice that I was lopsided. Now, I find myself wanting to be the poster child for women with mastectomy who choose not to reconstruct – I want to model swim suits for real women. A few months ago, I supported a Kickstarter campaign for Nettle’s Tale swimwear. I bought a swimsuit but never got around to sending them my sizing information (couldn’t find the measuring tape in my Ottawa apartment). After diagnose I reached out to the folks at Nettles Tale as I cannot give measurements now and I’m also not sure whether the suit I picked will work! I threw out the idea to the folks at Nettle’s Tale swimwear of modeling for them as they are hoping to come out with a new line of swimsuits that support prosthetic boobs. They were excited about the idea, but of course nothing is planned yet (I don’t live in Vancouver, which poses a challenge, but also it will be a year before I’d be ready anyways) – but I thought I’d share that I am serious when I say that I want to be a swimsuit model when this is all done!
I learned a new word the other day – foobs – which is short for fake boobs. I had heard falsies before, but foobs was new to me. Today I learned that the best place to buy a variety of foobs is eBay. Buying new can be rather expensive (eventually I’ll need to see what my insurance will cover). Since both the breast cancer and the trans community use them, there is a market for lightly used foobs. You learn something new every day!