I’ve had that Huey Lewis and the News song in my head: “I Want a New Drug.” Except I’ve been slightly changing the lyrics: “I want a new boob. One that makes me look slick. One that won’t make me crash my bra. Or make me feel three feet thick.”
With that in mind, I just came back from what I affectionately call “the boob store.” That’s where I go every year to get a new breast prosthesis and mastectomy bras. For those of you not in the know, I had a mastectomy in early 2012. I’ve been pretty open about it here and on my own blog. I’m fine, now. But even more vigilant.
Anyway, back to the boob store. I don’t mind going because the woman who opened it and the women who staff it have all been through a breast cancer diagnosis and treatment. So they know. They know how a woman feels when she comes through those doors for the first time, and they make each and every one of us feel welcome. There’s a sign at the front counter that says “you’ll come in as a stranger but you’ll leave as a friend.” And that’s true.
I went in today and they all said “hi” really warmly and pulled my file and took me on back to a fitting room and did all the measurements to make sure I got the right “fakey,” as I call it, and the correct-fitting bras. They always have a pot of coffee going and they send you home with a lot more than you came in for. Even the space makes you feel like you’re visiting a friend at her craft studio. There are tank tops and swim suits for fakey wearers, head coverings for women going through chemo, and wigs. There are informational pamphlets and some pretty cool T-shirts with inspirational art and sayings on them.
There are also decorations all over with more inspirational sayings and group photos of all the survivors who walk in local breast cancer awareness events. It’s cluttered and kind of goofy but feels like your fave older aunt’s house or your grandma’s house (provided you enjoyed going to her house). The place was a doctor’s office in the 70s, I’m pretty sure, and it still has that wood paneling from the era. The carpet is newer, though, and the paneling even comes across as charming because the whole place’s vibe is like your favorite auntie invited you to her house for fresh-baked cookies and oh, while you’re here, let’s get you fitted for a new prosthesis.
It’s the least self-conscious place I’ve ever been.
So I went today and got fitted and outfitted and geared up (heh).
But it always gets me thinking. I’m coming up on my diagnosis anniversary and, in February, my surgery anniversary. I’m not going to fib and say I’m not stressed out about these things. I’m trying not to be anxious about them. They’re just dates, after all, on a calendar. But they do have symbolic significance, and represent a point in my life that was pretty scary and pretty stressful. Your body remembers that, and I find myself reacting the way I felt then. I’ve had some anxiety that clouds my stomach and makes my chest hurt. I’ve been a little weirdly emotional, and dreading my mammogram, which happens in January or thereabouts.
I guess I still have a juke joint in my living room. I’m still getting through the aftermath. And yes, I am also still getting some help. Don’t worry, kids. I try to take care of myself and I am not afraid to ask for help. All that said, this year was a great year in many ways, but yes, I do have some triggers and I’m trying to figure out healthier ways to deal with those.
I’m glad I went to the boob store this time of year, I think, because it’s a supportive environment with women who have been through what I have, sometimes to the nth degree. I don’t feel like I have to explain myself and I don’t feel weird for dreading my anniversary dates. They all know. We don’t have to talk about it. There’s recognition there of everything a woman goes through in a breast cancer diagnosis, treatment, and then the aftermath where you try to figure out how much it changed you and in what ways. They all know, and because I know they do, it puts me at ease and I don’t feel weird for still having issues almost two years out.
So I left feeling a lot better than when I’d gone in. Yay for the boob store! In another post, I might regale you with some of the names of mastectomy-related products that companies come up with that are apparently supposed to make you feel all warm and feminine (cue “You Make Me Feel Like a Natural Woman“). I, personally, would like a prosthesis called “amazon ass-kicker” with a tagline like, “it ain’t real but it gets the job done.” Or maybe “Damn right I’m fake. You got a problem with that?” Heh. Hmmm. Business opp, people! 😀
Anyway, going to the boob store is one of those things that I have to do now roughly once a year. It’s a little thing, in the great scheme of things. One more chore I’ve acquired in the past couple of years.
But sometimes, it really is the little things that can mean the most.
Happy Friday, everyone. Hope your weekend is fantabulous!