Breasts that aren’t breasts

Over the last couple of days I’ve been reflecting on how I now have breasts that aren’t breasts. It is an odd thing really. They look like breasts. To the external toucher, they feel like breasts (or so my husband tells me). The nipples don’t react to anything, because at the moment they don’t have any sensation. I don’t expect that I will ever have nipples that react to any stimulus again – and that is one of the sad losses as part of this ‘treatment’.

In some ways, it is a good thing that I don’t have feeling in my breasts yet. I have a pretty nasty looking wound on my left breast where some of the skin didn’t survive the surgery. It will heal or be fixed up in the ‘clean-up’ plastic surgery. If I had feeling, it would probably hurt like hell! So, from that perspective I’m grateful. But I am becoming much more aware of the fact that I have these things on my front which look like breasts but have no feeling. When I look down upon myself, it looks ‘normal’ … I don’t have the visual cue that something is amiss. It is the lack of sensation that tells me these are not breasts … and of course my surgeon and oncologist … when I ask about what ‘breast self exam’ looks like with flap constructed breasts. The comment is ‘they aren’t breasts’ … it is completely different tissue … so it may look and feel the same to the external observer, it isn’t.

At this point in my journey, I’m encouraged to let things heal and not worry about recurrence. I’ve done what can be done to fight the cancer. The treatment was aggressive. My oncologist described it as being hit by a truck multiple times (first the chemo neuropathy, then the major surgery). So, recovery is slow and steady. I think if I say it / write it enough times I might start believing it.

  • Becky


  • Hard for me to imagine as a male what it means to lose your breasts. If your nipples were saved are they still wired in and able to sense and react? Or maybe more importantly for a writer, what part of story has changed? It think it’s a bit cold to say your new breasts aren’t breasts. It’s your tissue and gets to be what you want it to be.

  • The wiring is an interesting question. Unfortunately, the general answer is no. Over the next couple of years my body will re-grown nerves … and it will be interesting to see which sensations return and which don’t – but although they are my nipples, they are empty vessels … containing only fat at this point. This is also the case with the neuropathy in my feet … it will take time to heal and some nerves will re-grow – just not sure which ones and which sensations will be completely lost … it is however, miraculous that I have what I do have …

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