Personal Prosthesis Experiences

I was one-sided, you know. But then the nurse told me to get some old stockings and put in my bra and that would make my breast, make me, you know, look even and everything. And I did that for a while. Then a lady gave me a prosthesis and it was larger than my breast, so that I still looked uneven and was lop-sided. So finally, I got one, but welfare wouldn't pay for it. I had to scrape some money and get it myself. And I got one. Then you had, you know, you're supposed to wear the bras that hold the prosthesis. So being the ingenious me, I got a girl that had one. I looked at hers and I took and traced the paper over it and I went home and I cut me out some, and I sewed them inside of my regular bras and that's what I've worn ever since.

Before my surgery I went to see a plastic surgeon in town. We talked about reconstruction. I went by my intuition. There was not quite the silicone scare that there is now. But my thinking at the time was that my body was going to be going through so much with chemotherapy and surgery that I did not want to put my body through one more thing at that time. If I wanted it later on, I could have it later on. I just did not want to put anything foreign in my body. So I had a prosthesis. It fits into your bra, so you have a pouch in your bra that it fits into. But when you lean forward, it would lean with you so that it would go away from your skin, which I found to be uncomfortable. You have to be careful what clothes you wear. It's a little bit distressing finding clothes that are still a little bit feminine but not real low cut. So I went through that process for a while, and then about a year and a-half ago, they came out with a new prosthesis and now I have one. I have a piece of velcro that is on my skin and then I attach the prosthesis right to it, so it's attached to my body. They say you can sleep in it. I don't just so that it will last longer. It's made it a lot easier for clothes and just feeling good about myself. I mean, I don't think about it now like I did before, which is what you want to do. When you are diagnosed with cancer, that's all you think about. Of course, it is, because it's so scary.

My little nephew, he was vacationing down in Florida, and Shawn said I want to go home to be with my Auntie. She's had cancer and they rode all the way on a motorcycle from Florida way up to Sault Ste. Marie. He's only about eight. He was really curious about Grandma's boob. He's a very friendly little guy, so he had a lot of little friends his age. So I was bending over and my boob fell out and their eyes got about this big. What's happening to Grandma? She's falling apart. The next day they called up some of their friends and they were all giving me a hug. They were playing a game to find out what side was the boob and what side wasn't the real thing. And all the laughs they gave me was just really therapeutic.

I asked my husband and he said "I don't care how many breasts you have, two, or three, or one." I said "Okay, fine then. I just won't do it." Because, I mean, just for looks you cannot tell what's prosthesis, right? I think another thing is the philosophy between east and west. The west society you can see all the advertisements, the girls wear swimming suits, you know. You have to have this sex appeal. The Orientals think different. Really, the function of breasts is to nurse the baby, so it didn't bother me at all. I think it might bother some American women.

 © 1999 Michigan State University
Communication Technology Laboratory