Ladies, let’s not beat around the bush: our breasts are important to us. Big or small, they represent so much to us and reminds us of giving birth, intimate times with people we love and just that pure femininity. But when they’re taken away by cancer, it can feel like a part of you is missing and it’s not to do with body confidence or needing to look good, it’s something much deeper.
One woman who explains this beautifully is Rita Wilson, the American actress and Tom Hanks’ wife. She has just announced she is cancer-free but didn’t do the usual ‘I’m happy to just have my life and be here’, she admitted it was a God awful journey she’d been on and said, in an interview with the New York Times, that her mastectomy “was an amputation”.
Another message Rita wanted to get out there was that not only is breast cancer a real eye opener, in the first instance, if you suspect you might have a lump and your initial consultation doesn’t find anything, do not be dissuaded from seeking a second opinion. An early test had come back negative for Rita but something did not feel right, she said. Only after she demanded a second opinion was the cancer discovered.
“For me, this is about telling people, ‘You can get a second opinion — your insurance will pay for it, even Obamacare, God bless it, will pay for it,’ ” she said. “It’s so easy to say, ‘I’m just being paranoid,’ but you should trust your gut”.
In her wide-ranging interview with the paper, she told of how her husband Tom Hanks was her rock before, during and after her mastectomy.
“Who knew it would make you even closer?” she said.
“You never know how your spouse is going to react in a situation like this,” she added. “I was so amazed, so blown away by the care my husband gave me. It was such a normal, intimate time”.
And although she had her cancer detected early, Rita Wilson still feels exhausted. “Right now, the expander feels hard and weird and looks nothing like what breasts should look like”, Ms. Wilson said. She said can’t wear a proper bra and the time being, she is sticking to loose tops. She doesn’t feel the urge to get big replacements and is instead taking it easy and getting used to live without the breasts she had her whole life.
Another famous Hollywood actress went through her own mastectomy journey, however it was preventative, and raised an enormous amount of awareness for the surgery and what options are available. Jolie spoke openly about her procedure and how she didn’t feel it took away her sense of being a woman, like so many women feel. Angelina’s doctors estimated that she had an 87 per cent risk of breast cancer and, not wanting to take the chance after her mother and aunt had died from the disease, she chose to have both of her breasts removed.
There’s so many feelings you can go through when you experience breast cancer, but you are not alone. A piece published on The Atlantic, summed up how a lot of women feel when they lose their breasts: “For me, the bigger struggle is with friends or family who think that because the surgery is over, the chemotherapy is done, you should just flip a switch and return to their “normal”. That is not how it works. I cannot speak for every woman, but in my experience—a woman is forever changed”.
Tell us, have you gone through breast cancer or know someone who has had a mastectomy? How did you feel when you lost your breasts? Was it hard?