I wanna grow up to be like 'Mater (you know... Tow-mater!) - The Funny Thing About Cancer
 
One of my first posts on this blog was about how I am like Harry Potter.

Today's post is about how I hope to be like 'Mater.  You know... Tow-Mater.  From Cars?  If you have no idea what I'm talking about, you obviously do not have a 3 year old boy at home.  My son Loves the Cars movies.  Loves. 

So we've watched Cars and Cars 2 once or twice (or 10 or 20 times...).

In Cars 2, Mater has the chance to get his dents removed, but declines saying that each dent and scar represents a memory of his good friend, Lightening McQueen.

In essence, he is proud of every scar and dent because he "earned" it.

Today, after going through all my surgeries, I look... different.  I have some scars and dents of my own.

My boobs, when covered by clothing, are pretty effing perfect (if I say so myself).  I mean, my plastic surgeon ROCKED it.  And he's very proud.  He takes alot of photos.  I think he shows them to all of his plastic surgeon friends.  And then they all ooooooo and ahhhhh over my awesome rack (in a purely professional, non-sexual way) and then clap him on his back for his awesomeness.

I'm only half joking, my surgeon is very proud of his work, which is much deserved.  I honestly wouldn't be surprised if he had photos of my foobs framed and hung up in his office.

Anywho, back to the point. 

When covered, my foobs are rock star quality.  They're beautiful.  They're perky.  They're round.  They look great.

Naked... it's a different story.  I have some big scars.  BIG scars.  HUUUUUGE scars.  On one side, the scar is probably 4 inches long and goes horizontally accross my breast (where my nipple used to be).  On the other, it's roughly in the shape of a C (a really crooked, "a toddler wrote it" looking C).  Because I had a lumpectomy... and then a mastectomy.  The doc was afraid if he made a wholely separate cut that the skin between the scars would not get enough blood flow.  So he connected them... which makes it look like a C.

Most days, I really don't care about what my boobs look like.  They do their job.  They fill out my clothes.

But some days, I struggle.  OK... not "some days", I can tell you exactly which days.  When I'm in the gym locker room. 

*cue scary music*

Once again, I feel like a high schooler.  Those days every girl dreaded when they would have to change into gym clothes in front of all of their peers.  And we all learned the crazy contortionist ability to change bras under T-shirts.  You ladies know what I'm talking about!

Well, today as a 31 year old, when I go to the gym locker room, I feel like I'm back in high school again.  Instead of just changing and ignoring all the other women there (like I used to), I'm back to attempting to be a contortionist... and at 31 years of age, I am NOT as flexible as I used to be.

All because I am painfully aware of my scars. 

Why?  Because unlike boobies, which every woman has... no one else has scars like mine.  Trust me, I've looked around, I haven't seen a single missing nipple or scar.  My boobs are now "one of a kind".

I still don't know why I'm so shy about it.  I mean, I've never caught another woman sneaking a peek.  I've never had anyone react to my breasts at all.  I'm pretty sure no one has even noticed.  But I dread the day that someone does.  I dread the "double take" that I'm sure will come.  Some woman being overtly shocked at the appearance of my breasts. 

And that is how I wish I was like Mater.  I wish I was proud of my scars.  I wish instead of seeing my scars as blemishes, I wish I looked at them and saw it as a badge of honor. 

One of the other survivors I've spoken to pointed out that my scars, if they ever draw attention, are an excellent way to educate other young women.  When she goes to the gym, she changes just like all the other women.  If women ask her about her scars, she tells them her story.  She reminds them to do self-exams and that cancer can hit at any age.

When I heard that... I had a bit of an epiphany.  An "aha" moment. 

No one else has my breasts... and I do not want them to!  Early detection of cancer can make the difference between life and death.  Or giving the choice between lumpetomy and mastectomy.  Or chemo and no chemo.  Early detection is THE MOST IMPORTANT THING when it comes to cancer.  If I can inspire a handful of women to do their self-exams regularly, it will be worth any embarassment I may feel.

But ugh.  Lemme tell you, saying is easier than doing.  I'm still a little embarassed, but I'm working on it every day.  I no longer change bras under my shirt (much to the relief of my joints).  I'm slowly becoming more comfortable with the idea, slowly gaining some confidence that even if some woman DOES give me a double take, I will be able to look her in the eye and be proud. 

My scars have a story.  A story to be shared in hopes that it can bring positive change in another person's life.  Let's just hope I'm brave enough to share when that time comes.
Mary
2/6/2012 04:22:13 pm

Cynthia - when I had my mastectomy - I had NO NO NO idea what the scar might be like but I knew I wanted to live. I was afraid to even look on the internet or ask the doctor - it just had to be done. Truthfully I will I had known. To start with, a mastectomy scar isn't that bad (nothing like I expected - just a simple straight line. Once you've had a nipple redone and a year or two for the scar to fade - I would say unless someone was focused you might not even notice. Your scars will fade alot. I'll take my healthy perky scars over worrying about cancer anyday. You're friend is right about fear/education. Can you believe women don't get a mammogram because they might lose a breast? Hello? Your best chance of hanging on to your breast is early detection. Plus when you are 80 and you will live to be eighty - while most ladies will be lifting em to buckle their belt you'll be standing proud. Be proud girl - you are a real survivor.

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Karlene
2/10/2012 03:18:01 pm

You are the Rock star of Survivors! I aspire to be as brave and secure as you are.

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8/10/2012 11:20:42 am

Cynthia,

I have been struggling with this exact same problem, except that I totally hide from everyone and change in a restroom stall at the gym. Hopefully some day I will have the courage to come out of the stall and change in front of people again, for exactly the reasons you give here: my scars area a part of me and they might prompt other women to do self-exams. Thanks for writing about this.

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