Marissa is a 40-something "flattie" in sunny SoCal living with metastatic breast cancer, her boyfriend (and high school sweetheart) and the memory of her not-so-mini schnauzer, Heidi, who was taken too soon by canine lymphoma. She enjoys reading, stress baking and roller skating. She hopes to inspire others with her stories about life with cancer.
After seven years, my prosthetic breast, “Rightie,” sprung a leak and needed to be replaced.
Now some of you may roll your eyes,
as my dear Rightie has met her sudden demise.
Under my clothes,
In her pocket she goes.
She’s served me well. No one could ever tell.
But, alas, she has sprung a leak. So her replacement I now seek.
A prescription for two Because just one will not do.
I must bemoan,
My form is oozing silicone.
Sticky and goopy. Icky and droopy.
Rightie is no more.
A puncture to her inner core.
She’s been laid to rest, My prosthetic breast.
Her job was mighty.
May she rest in peace, forever my Rightie.
It is not common practice or standard of care for those with metastatic breast cancer to have a mastectomy. Generally, at a stage 4 diagnosis, the goal becomes controlling the cancer, not eradicating it through surgery, though there are many differing opinions on surgery and its effect on overall survival outcomes. Some oncologists see a benefit, and some feel a mastectomy is pointless once the cancer has spread beyond the breast. For me it was not recommended when I was first diagnosed in 2014.
About a year and a half into my life with cancer, a different oncologist with a fresh set of eyes insisted I have the mastectomy to get rid of “the mothership,” as he called it. With stage 4, recurrence is almost inevitable, so reconstruction was never considered as an option. Essentially, flat chose me and I became a flattie in August of 2015 after having a bilateral mastectomy with aesthetic flat closure.
I have zero regrets.
Shortly thereafter, I made my first visit to the specialty store to be fitted for prosthetics, namely, Rightie and Leftie. Now while I do present as flat at times, I am most comfortable having some pressure on my numb chest and I like the shape the prosthetics give to my clothing.
As I went to get dressed the other morning, I felt something sticky on my silicone breast form. I wiped at it, and it seemed to get worse instead of better. I took off my glasses and brought my prosthetic form up closer for a better look and, sure enough, Rightie had sprung a leak. I posted in my Flatties Who Foob Facebook group requesting suggestions for a temporary fix. Duct tape, a pool float patch, packing tape and sticking plaster were some of the responses I received, all good ideas if you ever find yourself faced with a leaky “foob.” Since I live in the United States, I had never heard of “sticking plaster.” As it turns out it’s a British word for a Band-Aid.
At this point I think Rightie, at seven years old, is beyond tape and bandages. It’s time for a new prescription and another trip to the specialty shop. Under the Women’s Health and Cancer Rights Act, insurance must cover prosthetics and mastectomy bras every two years. The silver lining to having an aesthetic flat closure is when your prosthetic starts leaking there is no additional surgery needed and no breast implant illness to worry about. It’s just a shopping trip, and in my case, seven years later, a replacement is way overdue.
As it is said in the mastectomy realm, “Thanks for the mammaries, Rightie.”
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