Cancer Lesson #86: It’s the Little Things that Matter

Cancer Lesson #64: It’s the little things that matter.

In January 2013, I brought some new bras. And, no, the word “little” in the title is not a reflection of their size (though it would be accurate). If that’s TMI, so be it.

You see, for a year, nine months and 21 days, I wore sports bras, camisoles or — and this was a big step forward — the sort of garment you’d buy a ten-year-old who’s outgrown her undershirts.

Everything else was uncomfortable and occasionally outright painful. The kind of bras I’d worn in the past felt like they’d been designed for the sole purpose of rubbing my scars.

For those who don’t understand why this matters, I ask you to imagine trying to wear a big girl wardrobe over something that looks like this.

日本語: スポーツブラを着用しているマネキン。

日本語: スポーツブラを着用しているマネキン。 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

They’re called sports bras for a reason — these undergarments were never meant to be worn beneath anything less athletic than a t-shirt.

Things improved when I had what they call a “revision,” a process by which they remove the scarring and replace it with other soft tissue (read “fat”).  I finally graduated to  the training bras, which I could handle for a couple of hours at a time.

In January, however, I found two average looking soft cup bras that were actually comfortable.

Oh, they were nothing exciting — no La Perla, or even Victoria’s Secret — yet it felt good to be able to wear something that’s comfortable, doesn’t look stupid under a blouse, and is moderately pretty. Something feminine.

Maybe this doesn’t seem like a big deal — nothing compared to having survived cancer — and it isn’t. But cancer changed me, both physically and emotionally, and there was, and is, no way of knowing which of these changes will be permanent. I was happy because I thought I’d be wearing ugly undergarments for the rest of my life.

Being able to wear a regular bra again was a win. Even if it’s small as victories go, I celebrated.

Make no mistake about it: little things matter.

Addendum: It’s been nearly six years, and my scars still hurt sometimes when I’ve worn a non-sports bra all day. And I have a friend, diagnosed a year after me, who is still uncomfortable in anything but camis. On the other hand, I believe some women don’t have these issues at all. Everyone is different. 

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5 thoughts on “Cancer Lesson #86: It’s the Little Things that Matter

  1. I wish I’d known that the axillary sampling scar would stretch so far back and it would end up so sensitive. Yup, the underwire effect is a killer; I’ve finally managed to graduate to a bra style that has an wire, but I alternate it with a wireless one, which seems to prevent the scar pain escalating too much. And there isn’t a bra out there which hides the far end of the scar, under my arm. Of course, given my luck, that part of it is still red and noticeable even after 5 years…

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