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The (Push-) up Side of Breast Cancer

Mom to two little ones and mom.me contributor, Meredith C. Carroll will be sharing her experiences of her recent breast cancer diagnosis, imminent treatments and day-to-day living with the big "c" here on Mom's the Word. Please join us in supporting Meredith and wishing for the easiest path through this challenging journey she and her family are facing.

My boobs just started doing the most remarkable thing (and by “my boobs,” I mean the two 100+ ccs of saline in my chest cavity as a result of the surgical removal of my actual breasts on February 14 after a cancer diagnosis): They’ve made me an entirely new person.

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No, I still don’t eat eggplant nor do I admire (or, frankly, believe) people who claim to not watch the Real Housewives franchise because they, in fact, don’t own a TV. (You know you do, and you know you also have cable. The jig is up, people.) But just the other day, the nurse in my plastic surgeon’s office did my first post-surgical injection of saline into my tissue expanders (which will eventually be replaced with more-permanent silicone implants when my internal scars are healed enough and my exterior skin is sufficiently stretched to hold them in place).

I had been warned amply—and with good reason—that my chest would hurt the first few days after my filling appointments. “Hurt” is one way to describe it. “Having cement poured into my torso and fortified with brick, mortar and the inner workings of the collective hardheaded brains of the Arizona legislature,” probably would have been a more accurate description, however.

But once you get past waking up each morning and wondering if a grenade went off in the middle of your bed without you managing to so much as stir, there’s this the other thing—after the initial discomfort subsides, all of a sudden I have rock-hard balls inside my chest that are shouting to me that I DON’T NEED A BRA.

I’m envisioning myself steely and braless this summer in a simple white tank top

That may sound like a worst-case scenario to, say, a 13-year-old girl who is the last one in her class to get her period (are you there, God? I’m talking about her, Margaret), or, say an eternal hopeful but forever Playboy-Playmate failure. But to a gal who hasn’t seen a number west of the letter D on her bra tag in over two decades, can I get an Amen?

All of a sudden, I feel like John Travolta in Saturday Night Fever strutting down the sidewalk with the confidence of someone who has no idea that men should not only never wear red blouses, but Aqua Net called and they’d rather Travolta shave his wig-strewn head and go bald rather than worry anyone would associate their product with whatever’s happening on top of his head.

I feel something inside of me all of a sudden like women who’ve come before me whom I admire. No, not the spunky determination of Meg Ryan in You’ve Got Mail. More like the breast-ial confidence of Gwyneth Paltrow and her barely-there side-view silhouette at the Oscars when she won Best Actress for 1998’s Shakespeare in Love while wearing that pink Ralph Lauren gown. I’m envisioning myself steely and braless this summer in a simple white tank top; or wearing a daintily ornamental-only demi-cup bra to accompany a strapless, breezy summer gown. I feel like Madonna wearing that cone bra while sporting the high ponytail during her Blond Ambition tour—you know, minus the blond hair, high ponytail or the release of any platinum-selling album.

I don’t feel like my breasts will give anyone a black eye anymore, or, if they do, it’s just because of their sheer boulder-like quality. They aren’t hanging low, wobbling to and fro, and you can neither tie them in a knot nor tie them in a bow. They are works of art. Fortified, iron-like art. With thick, red, crooked, wriggly, horrific-looking scars that would give Frankenstein pause. But the breast-like objects on my chest are small-ish. And they don’t move. It’s like all of the Botox in all of the dermatologist and cosmetic surgeons’ offices on both coasts banded together and squeezed into my chest cavity for a party at precisely the time I needed a little celebrating. No one’s moving, but everyone’s happy.

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I know I’m supposed to be counting the moments until my implant surgery—which will probably be in June—because these hardened mounds are still uncomfortable and, frankly, just plain alien. But I’m actually enjoying the feeling of knowing my boobs aren’t going anywhere that’s going to embarrass or call attention to me because they’re not standing at proper attention without the supervision of a bra made under the supervision of a stern Eastern-European spinster.

I’m sure I’ll welcome the silicone once it arrives. I’m also sure I’ll enjoy the cute new wireless bras that will have a place of honor in my newly cleaned-out lingerie drawer. But for right now? Not needing a bra and knowing that the only thing going south on my body is my ability to sleep on my stomach ever again? Udderly delightful.

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