Am I weird or something?

arbojenn
arbojenn Member Posts: 118
edited March 2014 in Breast Cancer #1
I get strange looks from the onc and surgeons when I ask about removing my "good" boob at the same time I have my reconstructed breast removed. Am I too vain or weird for not wanting to go through life as a "cyclops?"
Background: First diagnosed 1998 at age 47 with invasive ductal, one positive node. Mastectomy on involved side, chemo, five years tamoxifen, one year Femara. Reconstruction in 1999. Would do it again if I had to do it over as it gave me ten years of feeling normal. Local chest wall recurrence in reconstructed breast diagnosed May 2009. Enlarged node on OTHER side proved to be benign, but definitely recurrence on original.
TREATMENT: Neoadjuvant FEMARA, surgery to remove reconstruction, overlying skin and remaining tissue. Due to kidney surgeries ages ago, will need skin grafts to cover the "hole." Follow up with six weeks rads.

I am not up to reconstructing AGAIN. But that lopsided look was more damaging to my vain psyche than the no hair interim! I want them in pairs or not at all. Kind of like shoes for me: one by itself just doesn't do it. Maybe it is because I am older. Insurance will cover the removal of my remaining breast for preventive purposes. The looks I get, though, make me wonder if I am strange to be so willing to give it up. About the time I had the mastectomy, a movie came out where an alien women had just one breast. That MIGHT have something to do with my reluctance to look in the mirror and see my chest winking at me. I can't stand thinking of that sight again! Plus, it is hard to look good in clothes with just one. It is easier to have the choice to wear a form or go braless--in this summer heat that would be a blessing! If I do decide to wear a form, I could just stuff a bra with baggies full of ice cubes. Help with the hot flashes from the endocrine therapy. My grandmother went through life with just one but was always trying to hide. I am old and nobody looks at my chest anymore anyway and the girls finished their job nursing my kids over twenty years ago. In a few years, my natural boobs would be mistaken for knees anyway.

Am I missing something? Am I weird? What am I not considering? I know I will feel weird being flat chested, but I was never very big to begin with. And I really HATE wearing bras! They are hot and confining! But the looks must mean I am overlooking something. (They are willing to do the surgery but when they ask WHY and I tell them I just cannot handle the cyclops look, they look at me like I AM that alien from another planet.) I don't really care what people think of me for my decision should they discover it, but I DO wonder if there is something I am not considering before making this decision. What reasons are there for keeping just one when you are not getting reconstruction?

Comments

  • Marcia527
    Marcia527 Member Posts: 2,729
    When I was diagnosed in 2003
    When I was diagnosed in 2003 I asked if it would return in the other side, thinking he should just remove it at the same time. He insisted it wouldn't. He didn't explain why not. This is the same surgeon that wouldn't tell me my odds. I thought this was strange. I looked up what my odds were on the internet and asked the oncologist if what I found was true and he said, "pretty much." I didn't push the issue.
  • mira1013
    mira1013 Member Posts: 6
    Not weird at all
    I don't think you're weird and you have a great sense of humor. My cancer was found in Feb. As it turned out, I had a lump in one breast, crystalization in other breast, and a tumor in ovary. The breast surgeon said I could have just the right breast removed and do a wait and see on the left. There was no decision on the ovary. Complete hysterectomy. Since I am 64 years young, there was no question on removing the other breast. Like you I couldn't imagine looking at one drooping breast in the mirror. I chose to wait on recon. Since I carry weight in my stomach it's a little noticable, but not wearing bras has been great.

    I hope this helps you.

    Mira
  • tasha_111
    tasha_111 Member Posts: 2,072
    Marcia527 said:

    When I was diagnosed in 2003
    When I was diagnosed in 2003 I asked if it would return in the other side, thinking he should just remove it at the same time. He insisted it wouldn't. He didn't explain why not. This is the same surgeon that wouldn't tell me my odds. I thought this was strange. I looked up what my odds were on the internet and asked the oncologist if what I found was true and he said, "pretty much." I didn't push the issue.

    I agree
    I am a partial cyclops (LOL) and cover my lopsidedness with a falsie, i would not go for reconstruction. But if I was to lose one, I would sooner have them both gone. I like symmetrical!

    Hugs Jxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • mimivac
    mimivac Member Posts: 2,143
    bilateral
    Jenn, I don't think you're strange at all. Many women I know have bilateral mastectomies when cancer is only on one side. It is a personal decision and no one should look at you strangely for that. That said, I know that many doctors are against preventive mastectomy. I was never even given the choice and ended up having a lumpectomy. My surgeon just assumed that I would want that. I didn't know enough at the time to say much. But since then I have found that most women in my situation have bilateral mastectomies. I am happy with my decision, but everyone should get to decide for themselves. Maybe you could say to the doctor, "I'm getting the feeling that you think this is a bad idea. Can you tell me why?" That way, you can ease your mind and make a decision based on all the information. Good luck.

    Mimi
  • The1percen
    The1percen Member Posts: 135
    man's point of view
    Hi,
    I don't remember your "marital status" so I will go with you being sole decision maker. I would also believe that if you have a "signinficant other" that he would be supportive of what ever you wanted. To me it is NOT "weird" I am probably a small "B" myself (iou vey I can't believe I am admitting this) I can't imagine that lopsided feeling. I was in the military and I even hated shouldering my weapon because it made me feel lopsided. I also couldn't imagine having to wear a bra! I can assure you and all you ladies I would have burned mine way back when TOO! Also being a man (and again I can't believe I am admitting this) I have always tended to talk to a woman's chest. Not always in a sexual manner, but because I didn't feel comfortable looking into her eyes at some point. Looking from your side I would be self conscious about people "staring". I think you should follow your heart and "gut"... if that's what YOU want and insurance isn't an issue then
    go for it". Hope I'm not out of line, but I have been told some of you "enjoy" hearing from the "opposition" LOL. Good Luck and Take Care,
    Mike
  • CR1954
    CR1954 Member Posts: 1,390 Member
    Far from weird........
    You are far from weird and you are not "missing something." I gather that the looks yoyu get come from people who have not had to personally deal with breast cancer or mastectomy.

    I had one breast removed. I WISH that I had had both removed. Being lopsided is not especially attractive and I don't care to wear my prosthesis unless I am going out the door. Frankly, it gets heavy and uncomfortable after a time.
    I would rather be flat chested and "even."

    And then there is the constant worry about recurrence in the remaining breast.

    If I had it to do over, I would do both.

    Hugs,

    CR
  • Jeanne D
    Jeanne D Member Posts: 1,867
    I had a small lumpectomy and
    I had a small lumpectomy and I am glad that is all I had to have. But, this is a very personal choice for everyone, for you. You should do what you want to do, what makes you feel better physically and emotionally. Don't rush into anything until you are for sure. Good luck with whatever you decide. Jeanne
  • arbojenn
    arbojenn Member Posts: 118
    You guys are great!
    Thank you all for your comments and input! It is invaluable!

    Right now, I am leaning toward having the good one out, too. It would be really hard to get a bra to put a falsie in when my good one is down around my waist. :) I checked with the insurance, prompted by something Mike said, and while they will pay for the prosthetic surgery, they will NOT pay for a "touch up" for cosmetic purposes. (THey will pay for a reconstruction again, but my inclination and doctors' advice both nix that.)

    My hubbie of thirty five years wants me to have the good one out, too. He was more of a basket case through this than I was. He's grown accustomed to my face, it appears--but not my boobs, thank heaven! He doesn't want to go through the fear of losing me again. Isn't he just so sweet?

    I will take that advice, though, and tell the doctors I sense they don't think it is a good idea and ask why. I have a four week reprieve before I make the trek down again. I have plenty of time to make the decision. The surgeon wants to do the surgery in mid August but school starts up again at that time: I teach middle school math. I want to get a handle on things before I turn them over to a sub who will have them until my return. (Oy! Not looking forward to breaking them in twice!) I am holding off until late September or October and the onc is agreeable. We will see about the surgeon in July. I will do what I gotta do, I guess.

    Again, thank you all!
  • zahalene
    zahalene Member Posts: 670

    man's point of view
    Hi,
    I don't remember your "marital status" so I will go with you being sole decision maker. I would also believe that if you have a "signinficant other" that he would be supportive of what ever you wanted. To me it is NOT "weird" I am probably a small "B" myself (iou vey I can't believe I am admitting this) I can't imagine that lopsided feeling. I was in the military and I even hated shouldering my weapon because it made me feel lopsided. I also couldn't imagine having to wear a bra! I can assure you and all you ladies I would have burned mine way back when TOO! Also being a man (and again I can't believe I am admitting this) I have always tended to talk to a woman's chest. Not always in a sexual manner, but because I didn't feel comfortable looking into her eyes at some point. Looking from your side I would be self conscious about people "staring". I think you should follow your heart and "gut"... if that's what YOU want and insurance isn't an issue then
    go for it". Hope I'm not out of line, but I have been told some of you "enjoy" hearing from the "opposition" LOL. Good Luck and Take Care,
    Mike

    Mike I appreciate
    your honesty and candor as well as the dignity with which you treat the ladies here and these issues. It is helpful for us to get input from the male perspective.
  • zahalene
    zahalene Member Posts: 670
    arbojenn said:

    You guys are great!
    Thank you all for your comments and input! It is invaluable!

    Right now, I am leaning toward having the good one out, too. It would be really hard to get a bra to put a falsie in when my good one is down around my waist. :) I checked with the insurance, prompted by something Mike said, and while they will pay for the prosthetic surgery, they will NOT pay for a "touch up" for cosmetic purposes. (THey will pay for a reconstruction again, but my inclination and doctors' advice both nix that.)

    My hubbie of thirty five years wants me to have the good one out, too. He was more of a basket case through this than I was. He's grown accustomed to my face, it appears--but not my boobs, thank heaven! He doesn't want to go through the fear of losing me again. Isn't he just so sweet?

    I will take that advice, though, and tell the doctors I sense they don't think it is a good idea and ask why. I have a four week reprieve before I make the trek down again. I have plenty of time to make the decision. The surgeon wants to do the surgery in mid August but school starts up again at that time: I teach middle school math. I want to get a handle on things before I turn them over to a sub who will have them until my return. (Oy! Not looking forward to breaking them in twice!) I am holding off until late September or October and the onc is agreeable. We will see about the surgeon in July. I will do what I gotta do, I guess.

    Again, thank you all!

    I was one-sided
    for about 1 1/2 years and found that to be much more of a hassle than after I had the second one removed. I have been breastless for over 20 years and it just isn't an issue. I also wear glasses, have a top denture. I have to see and eat but I don't have to have boobs except when and if I choose to. Rather liberating actually.
  • arbojenn
    arbojenn Member Posts: 118
    zahalene said:

    I was one-sided
    for about 1 1/2 years and found that to be much more of a hassle than after I had the second one removed. I have been breastless for over 20 years and it just isn't an issue. I also wear glasses, have a top denture. I have to see and eat but I don't have to have boobs except when and if I choose to. Rather liberating actually.

    laughing so hard!
    Zahalene, I LOVE your post here! You are my kind of lady!
  • Kat11
    Kat11 Member Posts: 1,931 Member
    arbojenn said:

    laughing so hard!
    Zahalene, I LOVE your post here! You are my kind of lady!

    I only had a lumpectomy, but
    I only had a lumpectomy, but I remember my mom who had a mastectomy wishing they had taken both. She would say that she could go braless and would have been more comfortable.
  • lynn1950
    lynn1950 Member Posts: 2,570
    Yes for bilateral symmetry
    I don't like looking at my naked flat chest, but I never doubted my immediate decision have both removed. Like you I was small, they had served their motherly purpose, and I always hated wearing bras anyway. If I had a cyclops, I would still have to deal with our outrageous system of having to hide our erect nipples (the only reason I needed a bra, anyway)and then have to wear an uncomfortable (from what I hear) prothesis, to boot. I still have not decided about reconstruction. I miss the sexual arousal, but other than that, I am glad to not have to worry (much) about those girls. A friend who had reconstruction gave me her prosthesis bra, which I have yet to try on. But someday, I may need the look, so I am prepared. Always a girl scout. I don't think you are one bit weird. I think you are foreward thinking and progressive. Love, Lynn
  • confused123
    confused123 Member Posts: 251
    lynn1950 said:

    Yes for bilateral symmetry
    I don't like looking at my naked flat chest, but I never doubted my immediate decision have both removed. Like you I was small, they had served their motherly purpose, and I always hated wearing bras anyway. If I had a cyclops, I would still have to deal with our outrageous system of having to hide our erect nipples (the only reason I needed a bra, anyway)and then have to wear an uncomfortable (from what I hear) prothesis, to boot. I still have not decided about reconstruction. I miss the sexual arousal, but other than that, I am glad to not have to worry (much) about those girls. A friend who had reconstruction gave me her prosthesis bra, which I have yet to try on. But someday, I may need the look, so I am prepared. Always a girl scout. I don't think you are one bit weird. I think you are foreward thinking and progressive. Love, Lynn

    I don't think you are crazy,
    I don't think you are crazy, unless we both are. I opted for bilateral mastectomy instead of just right side because I did not want surgery again later and because of symmetry, although I opted for reconstruction. I say do what you want and who cares what anyone else thinks.
    Kim
  • confused123
    confused123 Member Posts: 251
    lynn1950 said:

    Yes for bilateral symmetry
    I don't like looking at my naked flat chest, but I never doubted my immediate decision have both removed. Like you I was small, they had served their motherly purpose, and I always hated wearing bras anyway. If I had a cyclops, I would still have to deal with our outrageous system of having to hide our erect nipples (the only reason I needed a bra, anyway)and then have to wear an uncomfortable (from what I hear) prothesis, to boot. I still have not decided about reconstruction. I miss the sexual arousal, but other than that, I am glad to not have to worry (much) about those girls. A friend who had reconstruction gave me her prosthesis bra, which I have yet to try on. But someday, I may need the look, so I am prepared. Always a girl scout. I don't think you are one bit weird. I think you are foreward thinking and progressive. Love, Lynn

    I don't think you are crazy,
    I don't think you are crazy, unless we both are. I opted for bilateral mastectomy instead of just right side because I did not want surgery again later and because of symmetry, although I opted for reconstruction. I say do what you want and who cares what anyone else thinks.
    Kim
  • Kylez
    Kylez Member Posts: 3,761 Member

    I don't think you are crazy,
    I don't think you are crazy, unless we both are. I opted for bilateral mastectomy instead of just right side because I did not want surgery again later and because of symmetry, although I opted for reconstruction. I say do what you want and who cares what anyone else thinks.
    Kim

    I just want to wish you good
    I just want to wish you good luck in whatever decision you make!
  • FeistyTexasGal
    FeistyTexasGal Member Posts: 11
    Cyclops
    Hey there! Don't think of yourself as a Cyclops, think of yourself as an Amazon woman. Mytholgoy says they only had one breast so they could use their bow and arrows faster! They had them cut off or burned off. So, hey, join the warrior women. You are not weird or vain. I asked to have both cut off but my surgeon wouldn't do it. I opted for reconstruction at the time of my mastectomy and now am wearing a concrete breast until I can have surgery in January. I am a tiny woman but had double D breasts. I want little perky ones now! Anything you decide to do will be fine. You will be beautiful with or without breasts. It is so hard to believe I only started this two weeks ago. It already seems like it has been months and months. This will be my fourth chemo and I have to have it every week until mid-October. I cut off all my hair this week - 19" - and donated it to Locks of Love. I hardly recognize that woman in the mirror. My comfort lies in the fact that there is a virtual army of women out there who have been there, done that. I wish you the best of luck! - Karen
  • FeistyTexasGal
    FeistyTexasGal Member Posts: 11

    man's point of view
    Hi,
    I don't remember your "marital status" so I will go with you being sole decision maker. I would also believe that if you have a "signinficant other" that he would be supportive of what ever you wanted. To me it is NOT "weird" I am probably a small "B" myself (iou vey I can't believe I am admitting this) I can't imagine that lopsided feeling. I was in the military and I even hated shouldering my weapon because it made me feel lopsided. I also couldn't imagine having to wear a bra! I can assure you and all you ladies I would have burned mine way back when TOO! Also being a man (and again I can't believe I am admitting this) I have always tended to talk to a woman's chest. Not always in a sexual manner, but because I didn't feel comfortable looking into her eyes at some point. Looking from your side I would be self conscious about people "staring". I think you should follow your heart and "gut"... if that's what YOU want and insurance isn't an issue then
    go for it". Hope I'm not out of line, but I have been told some of you "enjoy" hearing from the "opposition" LOL. Good Luck and Take Care,
    Mike

    Staring at my boobs
    Oh, Mike, that made me chuckle. I don't think a man looked me in the eye for 20 years. All of them stared at my boobs!! I have to laugh about it now. Off to chemo! Have a great day today.
  • Noel
    Noel Member Posts: 3,095 Member
    Noone is weird on this site.
    Noone is weird on this site. We have been thru a lot and we just have a lot of questions and concerns, that people that don't have bc can't fully understand. So, keep asking and someone here can help you. Good luck!
  • The1percen
    The1percen Member Posts: 135

    Cyclops
    Hey there! Don't think of yourself as a Cyclops, think of yourself as an Amazon woman. Mytholgoy says they only had one breast so they could use their bow and arrows faster! They had them cut off or burned off. So, hey, join the warrior women. You are not weird or vain. I asked to have both cut off but my surgeon wouldn't do it. I opted for reconstruction at the time of my mastectomy and now am wearing a concrete breast until I can have surgery in January. I am a tiny woman but had double D breasts. I want little perky ones now! Anything you decide to do will be fine. You will be beautiful with or without breasts. It is so hard to believe I only started this two weeks ago. It already seems like it has been months and months. This will be my fourth chemo and I have to have it every week until mid-October. I cut off all my hair this week - 19" - and donated it to Locks of Love. I hardly recognize that woman in the mirror. My comfort lies in the fact that there is a virtual army of women out there who have been there, done that. I wish you the best of luck! - Karen

    Karen... NOW I UNDERSTAND!
    AH-HA... now we have "the rest of the story"! Huh, no wonder they all stare LOL...
    Now, seriously... Thank you for the compliment and for those who you helped through your GENEROUS donation to Locks of Love!! Two years ago (at my second RFL) my youngest daughter gave too, I was SO proud of her! What a truly selfless way to help those who need something to help them (or their families) feel more secure in public. If I end up in chemo, I will think about your wonderful act of kindness, But I WON'T NEED ONE, I'm already ¾ of the way there... my only concern is my moustache... I've had for 30+ years, and like all of you, that IS part of my identity! I had posted earlier, about my advantages, one of them already being bald... I forgot about my "tache" OH-NO, NOT THAT!!!
    As for "cyclops" If this IS I am planning on a double. I want to be rid of "my MAN boobs"
    I hope that made ALL OF YOU LAUGH, that's why I said it! Take Care!!!
    Hugs,
    Mike