Wednesday 2 July 2008

Hello boys.

Nobody ever enjoyed ill health (in particular the attention it brings) quite like my Grandad. After he had a double heart bypass, he spent the subsequent few years sitting in his chair breathing loudly, hand placed purposefully over his heart, just itching for someone to acknowledge it.

After my diagnosis, I joked that perhaps I could attract the same kind of attention by sitting with my hand constantly on my left tit. And ta-dah! Here I am, typing with my right hand while grabbing my prosthetic boob with my left. (There's heavy breathing too, though that part's more to do with this being so effing painful – now I see why they make pregnant women do breathing exercises.) Besides, my left arm remains pretty screwed – to the point of not being able to tie my hair back and needing someone to do up my bra – so holding onto my prosthetic tit is as good a use as any for it, eh? Call it physiotherapy.

But yes, the falsie. Cancer really does get more glamorous by the day, I tells ya. Just as I was enjoying the joyful moment of being unplugged from my various wound drains before being discharged from hospital, in comes my very lovely (and always-bloody-right-about-everything) cancer nurse to fit me for the bra that I must wear, day and night, until someone tells me otherwise (and I doubtless snog them full on the lips from the sheer emancipation of being freed from it). Believe me, this bra is no Agent Provocateur contender. But more of that later.

What the bra does have, however, is a handy little pocket to house the prosthetic boob that I'm currently sporting (keep an eye out for them next Fashion Week). It's round and foamy and stuffed with lambswool, and it feels a bit like a novelty clown's nose (honk honk). And while I'm thankful for it in the meantime so I don't have to look all wonky-chested in my far-from-low-cut clothes, I'll be more enthusiastic when we can eventually get round to the fun of inflating my currently flat saline implant. (That said, it'll be limited fun – it's only got my usual B-cup level to imitate, so we'll hardly be putting it to the Dolly Parton test.)

Speaking of inflation, there's been a weird side effect on that front that I hadn't really bargained for. You've seen Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, right? (The kinda crap '70s one, not the trippy Johnny Depp one.) Well remember Violet Beauregarde filling with blueberry juice after eating that dodgy chewing gum, and you've got a pretty good idea of how my left side has felt since my aforementioned drains came out. Always-Right Cancer Nurse warned that my skin 'might begin to feel like a filled-up hot-water bottle' and, true to form, she's not wrong. Fortunately my consultant has got the Oompa Loompas on hand to drain me next week. 

And hopefully after that, this damn bra will become a bit more comfortable. Not that my newly deflated left side will make it look any more passable in the fashion stakes, you understand. I can't emphasise this strongly enough: the bra is hideous. I'd post a photo of it if I weren't so bloody embarrassed. (And bear in mind that I can handle the shame of you knowing all about my constipation.)

From a distance (the other side of a football field, let's say) it looks a bit like a training bra, or a cropped gym top (the really show-offy kind that you see those leathery, 50-odd women wearing while jogging over Chelsea Bridge in rush hour). Up close, mind, it looks like something that could have had a previous life on my Nan's washing line. It's white (naturally, it doesn't come in any other colours) with wide straps and nondescript flowers embroidered onto it, the like of which you'd normally see on a naff B&B bedspread. This bra is all the proof you need that the medical world just ain't used to dealing with breast cancer in twentysomethings. It is the anti-sexy. Poor P's already got bollocks like cricket balls and, with this lingerie look, it doesn't look like being remedied any time soon.

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