Ann’s Diary: Breast–And Breastless–Cancer Heroes

I don’t know why I get upset when I watch something like this:

It’s not that I deny anyone the right to handle their cancer their way.  I hate to see anyone–ANYONE–having to be put in the position of being a warrior against cancer–least of all me.  

And as a fighter, I reserve the right to handle my diagnosis the way I choose–as all of these women and men have done.  Bravo to them and bravo to Ford for spotlighting them, supporting them, clothing them in the gear–all of it.  It’s amazing to watch a business, no matter the na-sayers who claim it’s about publicity, or tax right offs, or blah blah blah–

listen, when you’ve got the disease, then come to me with your complaints.  But I bet you won’t complain–you’ll just be grateful, like I am, that somebody gives a damn about you and your horrific, mind-blowing, life-changing and maybe life-ending experience.

So here’s what bums me out:  not a one of them is without breasts and showing themselves as such.  You know what that says to me?  It says that breasts are way too important.  

I have nothing–NOTHING–against reconstruction, or prosthetics. I’m just saying that presenting yourself as with breasts, even when you’re not, is not the only answer.

When I thought about putting fake breasts back into the place where my real breasts–one of which had cancer and one that didn’t–were, I was put into the awful position of “what if I have no breasts? What am I then? Am I still sexy? Am I still a woman?” And after 4 terrible, stomach churning, put-this-marriage-to-the-test days, my hero-of-a husband and I decided I would still be amazing without boobs. I would still be female, still beautiful and (gasp) sexy, despite what breast cancer wanted to steal from me. And I am proud of that decision–though not altogether understood by the world around me for making it.

After a few months of living without breasts, and trying prosthetics, I felt like a phony. I felt like I was misrepresenting me. I had breast cancer, my breasts had to go–and putting on fake boobs was like a bad costume party in my mind; and it made me feel bad. So I dumped them. For 8 years I’ve lived as is–no breasts, no bumps, but plenty of life.

In a video like this, what would have amazing impact to me is seeing a woman–or more than one woman—who chose to not have reconstruction and doesn’t wear fake breasts. I am not saying me. I am just saying someone. Someone who says, “hey society, guess what? I love myself, as does my husband, and I have NO BOOBS. How bout that,society?”

I am not saying all people should make my decision; I am saying that many of us out here do. We make a hard, horrible decision that less is more, as the saying goes–especially in the face of chemotherapy, radiation, mastectomy surgery, recovery, and all the pills you have to take for the next 5 years to keep breast cancer at bay. It’s not always about reconstruction or fake breasts after breast cancer.  It’s about living.

So next year I hope somebody chooses to submit themselves into the casting call for this fantastic, formidable, film-worthy video support in the fight against breast cancer who has no breasts and doesn’t use prosthetics. There are many of us out there, fighting after their first battle, after their second round–or in my case, after it’s jumped the fence and gone into other organs (metastatic)–and we are ALL FIGHTERS. We are proud, we are pumping iron, we are praying to live through this devastating illness…

..even those of us with a few less body parts to fight with.





Posted May 30th, 2012 by
Ann's Diary: Breast--And Breastless--Cancer Heroes
  • Kathy Sciarrotta

    I found your site today. I never see other women in public without breasts. For 5 years I have gone breastless. So you would think I would notice. Infact, I have only seen one woman breastless and that was years before I had my double mastectomy. She was young, probably, late twenties and we were in a class together. I never asked her but never forgot that it was a possibility. I attribute my choice to her courage to be as she was. I attended a workshop the year after my mastectomies and bunked in a dorm with a group of women and one women commented when I undressed the she thought I was just one of those older women that the breasts hang down to her stomach. A sense of humor is important sometimes.