Cancer Lesson #20: Leave Your Modesty at the Door

Cancer Lesson #20: Leave your modesty at the door.

By the time I met my plastic surgeon (and, yes, it still feels weird to be able to use that phrase), I’d realized a lot (and I mean a lot) of people would be looking at (and probably touching) my boobs in the next year or so.

Thus, when Dr. K2 asked if he could take photos to document his work, I unhesitatingly took off my shirt, stood in front of a blue cloth and allowed my breasts to be photographed for posterity. (A little over a year later, we repeated the process for the “after” shots.)

And that was just the beginning. When I was in the hospital after my surgery, it sometimes felt like I was hosting a parade of interns, each of them interested in one thing – my newly reconstructed right breast.

I’m not exaggerating. My breast surgeon had at least two interns checking in on me, and my plastic surgeon had four or five, all making the daily rounds. Plus there were regular checks (hourly at first) by the nursing staff.

So, if you’re beginning breast cancer treatment and possess even a shred of modesty, I’d suggest you leave it at the door.

More recently, my oncologist has mentioned several times how a TRAM reconstruction tends to age more naturally (read: Your TRAM boob will sag just like your non-TRAM one). He mentioned seeing pictures at conferences that demonstrate this.

It crossed my mind that photos of my breasts have probably been displayed at plastic surgery conferences.

I find this kind of funny. Who would have thought I’d be a pinup girl after all these years? And after all my breasts have been through, they deserve a little extra attention, especially if it helps plastic surgeons do an equally good job on someone else in the future.


Lyndon Johnson shows his surgery scars. Photo from Briscoe Center for American History (if you can’t read the overlay!)


Cancer Lesson #18: All cancer patients have a date with destiny.

Cancer Lesson #18: All cancer patients have a date with destiny.

I believe there comes a time in each patient’s life when s/he is excited to get the date of his/her surgery and/or commencement of treatment. My particular date was Wednesday 27 April 2011, and I was thrilled to be getting the show on the road.

Before that, I had a minor “date with destiny” in the form of my plastic surgeon, Dr. K2. By then, I had to decide if I was going for the vavoom factor or a more natural look.

When I wrote about this in my blog, I said, “That’s w-a-y more than you needed to know, right? And yet, I feel so unrepentant.”

I refuse to be embarrassed by the things I wrote then and am writing now. I’ve shared my cancer lessons because it’s important for others to realize this is something they can survive. And face it, there are a lot of bizarre things about being treated for cancer. How could I not write about the experience?