I’ve mentioned before that, pre-Bullshit, I didn’t spend too much time worrying about my tits. ‘I’ve always been happy with my lot boobs-wise,’ I wrote in my first ever post, ‘and reckon that the few people who’ve seen them have been bloody lucky to do so.’ Recently, though, I’ve been having other thoughts: how-about-going-a-little-bigger thoughts; thoughts prompted by the necessity for reconstructive surgery sometime early next year. Because, I figured, swapping two implants can’t be that much different from swapping one, can it? And while, yes, I remain relatively happy with my lot boobs-wise, I wonder… could I be happier?
Well, obviously. Of course I could be happier. I’d be happier if my norks had remained cancer-free and hadn’t been threatened into oblivion by a BRCA gene. I’d be happier if they were natural. I’d be happier with them if wearing bras wasn’t so uncomfortable, if I didn’t have a dint in my left boob where an inflation port used to be, and if I still had feeling in my nipples. But I’m not talking about that kind of happy. I’m talking about size-happy.
Since my first post, my boobs have been seen by far more folk than the ‘few people’ who’d looked at them prior to my diagnosis. Which isn’t just ironic, but also bloody annoying. Because these puppies have, over the last two and a half years, been flashed an awful lot – but never at a time when they’ve looked their best. On top of that, though, their increasing exposure has – naturally, I suppose – caused whoever’s looking at them to comment on their size. ‘You’re lucky to have small boobs,’ people have said, for various reasons from not being as wonky after a mastectomy, to needing less lamb’s wool to stuff inside a prosthesis, to requiring fewer appointments to inflate my tissue expander. And all of those points might indeed be right… but each time it’s been said, my immediate reaction has always been: ‘Erm, hold on a second – my boobs are small?’
See, I’d never considered myself to be small-busted. I’m definitely not big-busted, mind, but small? I dunno; I guess I’ve always just preferred ‘modest’. Would you say a 36B is small? It’s relative, ain’t it? To some of you, a B-cup will be positively tiny; to others it might seem pretty ample. I recently read that the average British bra size has jumped from 34B to 36D, and discovered – in the same article – that small-back, large-cup figures are on the increase, while false breasts are waning in popularity. It’s enough to give a bogus B-cupped bird a complex. Not least when one of those cups is currently running on empty.
The ‘you’re lucky to be small’ conversation came up again last week, in the second of my inflation appointments with Stunning Surgeon.
‘We’ll do another 60mls today,’ she said, ‘so you might start to see a little bit of shape creeping in over the next few days.’
‘Excellent,’ I said. ‘I really miss my cleavage.’ (And how! It’s only after my recent surgery that I’ve been surprised to discover that my wardrobe is made up almost entirely of low-cut dresses and tops. Which, as much as it’s a right royal pain in the arse at the moment, doesn’t half give me a sly grin every time I slide open the wardrobe door.) ‘So how many more appointments will I need until it’s fully inflated?’ I asked.
‘Another three, I’d imagine,’ she said. ‘Five altogether, 60mls each time.’
‘Hm,’ I thought. ‘I have 300ml tits. Is that a lot?’ (I’ve since discovered that the volume of each of my boobs is more than a half pint but less than a can of Coke, and equal to such household staples as a tin of Mr Sheen, a tub of crème fraiche and a bottle of Gaviscon. Make of that what you will.)
Long before the 300ml discovery, though, I’d been spending a lot of time trying to be more realistic about the size of my bust and wondering whether increasing its size – only to a C-cup, mind you – would restore the kind of sweater-puff satisfaction that I had pre-diagnosis.
‘So I’ve been thinking,’ I said to Smiley Surgeon a couple of weeks ago. ‘And I wonder whether, when I come in to have my reconstruction, I could go a little bigger.’
‘Don’t worry, I’ll make sure they match in size,’ he said, misunderstanding my request.
‘No, no, I mean both of them. You know, just a little bit bigger. So I’m, y’know, more in proportion.’
‘Oh, I see,’ he said.
‘So is that doable?’
‘Well... yes, absolutely.’
‘And do you think they’d look okay?’ I asked, in a question which might have been better directed at P.
‘I’m confident we’ll get an excellent result,’ he confirmed, quoting the reassuring mantra I’ve often heard.
‘Do many women decide to do this after a double mastectomy?’
‘Mm, some do.’
‘But most women go the other way,’ added Always-Right Cancer Nurse. ‘More women decide they’d like to go a little smaller instead.’
‘Ah,’ I said. ‘Not me.’
‘Anyway, we can discuss this nearer the time,’ concluded Smiley Surgeon who, demonstrably, knows me well enough by now to only trust decisions that I’ve spent a good chunk of time mulling over. And rightly so. Because these aren’t the kind of considerations a girl should take lightly.
Or are they? The thing is, half of me just thinks ‘fuck it; you’ve been through so much shit; why not treat yourself to a reward out of it?’ And, until the last couple of weeks, there wasn’t even another half to consider. But since being out of hospital, and all the shite that comes with it, I’ve been wondering whether such a modest potential increase would even really be worth the end result. The other worry, of course, is that my C-cup would become some kind of ‘I am my boobs’ statement, and while that has been the unavoidable case for the past couple of years – and, to some extent, remains the case even now – it’d be a shame to find myself, say, five years past diagnosis with an even more prominent reminder of what’s happened staring back at me in the mirror.
Perhaps, then, it’s my perspective – more than my pillows – that requires augmentation. Because, I suppose, with the current 300ml/120ml imbalance, I’m bound to have a bit of a skewed outlook. And maybe – not least given the clandestine cleavage-confidence behind my low-cut wardrobe – once that balance has been restored, I’ll be less inclined to present an attitude of ‘I’ve beaten breast cancer and all I got was this lousy B-cup’ and instead find myself grateful for
small modest mercies.