Then and now

So many people have commented and indeed congratulated me on my strength. It is true that I have surprised even myself on how I have coped. Much of it is to do with my personality, the no fuss and drama me (though I can create both when provoked). Also because I like to have information before panicking and try to be optimistic in these matters. But make no mistake having breast cancer was the worst and scariest thing I have ever had to face. Losing one of my lovely breasts has been terrible, I morn it every day. In this post I will try to explain my then and now. There is no need to be sorry about any of this, I don’t need sympathy, just the chance to tell.

Then

Until pregnancy I was quite small busted, but while pregnant they grew and never went down. I always had a good cleavage and many people, men and women have admired it. High necked clothes don’t suit me, my face and neck look too fat in them. I prefer a lower cut dress or top. My bras were all plunging, not padded as they made me look bigger than I wanted, but underwired for support. Not that I was sagging especially; I was told I had great tits for my age (former relationship) and great tits full stop (this one). To me, with my expanding middle and puckered hips, my tits were my best asset.

Then

Once I gained confidence with my blog and began posting pictures of myself, they were often of my breasts. My pierced nipples, me bulging out of a leather waistcoat or wearing a leather harness. Master called them my jugs and played with them a lot. My nipples, especially the right were very sensitive and I have had nipple orgasms more than once. To me my breasts were my best asset and I am fucking angry and mightily sad that I now only have one.

Now

The skin around the wound is soft and smooth, but the scar line itself is kind of puckered with little folds. The area under my arm remains numb and puffy. No one can tell me if and when it will recover. I touch the wound area quite a lot. During the day the area under my bra gets hot and itchy and sometimes I can’t help but rub it. Obviously not out in public but in the comfort of my living room. Lying in bed too, I stroke it. You see, most of the time I can’t really tell I don’t have a boob there and of course neither can anyone else.

I have a silicone prosthesis that fits inside my bra, it looks (and feels according to master) pretty realistic. But you can’t wear this kind of thing with a skimpy bra with a plunging cleavage. This means that I have bought several new bras, but not thrown any of the 15 or more old ones I have away. However I may soon move them into a box under the bed for the future (see below).

Master still loves to play with the breast and nipple on the left side. He strokes and nibbles, pulls and pinches. He also strokes the place where my right one used to be. But it isn’t the same. Even when I am aroused by what he is doing, I am thinking of what I have lost. His fingers on my wound area and surroundings are pleasant, but there is no sexual arousal from it. Instead he concentrates on the left and my other erogenous zones.

Now

The biggest challenge for me now though is looking at other people’s tits. While I still love to look at everyone’s Sunday and other day blog and twitter posts. I can’t help but feel a twinge when I see a lovely pair of tits staring out at me. Likewise looking at old photos of myself makes me happy that I have so many, but sad that there will be no more like them. I also find myself looking for signs of the cancer within, of course there was never any sign.

Future

I know these feelings will pass. It has, after all only been 3 months since the operation and my treatment won’t be completed until the end of this month.

In the future I hope to have a breast reconstruction. To be able to show two breasts to myself, to Master and this little area of the world would be wonderful. I know any reconstructed breast won’t be the same. It is likely that the surgeon will have to reduce the size of the left one, so I would be smaller than before. But I know it is what I want. To be able to wear any bra, or to be able to go braless. Summer days with no bra, that has to be something to aim for.

Before that, well I will try to be as body positive as I can. But don’t imagine that this has been easy or that it ever will be again. I loved my boobs and I will have to learn to love having one again.

Wicked Wednesday... a place to be wickedly sexy or sexily wicked

Progress – Week 6 & 7

I delayed writing this week because of my oncology appointment, which took place on Wednesday. My assumption was that I could detail the treatment plan here. Unfortunately not (see below). But there has been plenty of progress. 

Physical recovery

Over the past two weeks my recovery really has gathered pace. The wound has now completely healed and the swelling is reducing. For the past almost 7 weeks, I have been walking around with what felt like a cushion under my arm. It would swell during the day and reduce a little over night. Now though that has improved a lot. The past 2 weeks though, I have been getting shooting pains at the top of my arm, just above the armpit. My oncologist reassured me that the reduction in swelling is causing this. The nerves which had been compressed are jumping to life, and this is exactly what it feels like. 

Oncology appointment 

As I mentioned above, the oncology appointment was on Wednesday. After surgery a small sample of the tumour should have been sent to USA for analysis. This test predicts the likelihood of recurrence. For some reason, it was omitted, so no result and therefore no treatment yet. If the likelihood of recurrence is high I will need chemotherapy and this must be done before radiotherapy. This is very irritating as I want to get things done and over with. The doctor wasn’t best pleased either because it delays things. Plus he spent 20 minutes chasing results that didn’t exist.

The up side is that I get to enjoy Christmas with no worry about treatment. But it does prolong the uncertainty. I can’t control it, so I don’t plan to worry (too much).

Body image

Since the operation I have been wearing a soft cushion thing in my bra. They call this a stuffy. It gives some shape, but rides up and definitely isn’t the same size as my remaining boob. 

Yesterday I went to be fitted for a silicone prosthesis. It is larger, a better shape and is the same size as my left boob. It weighs a pound (yes, it has been on my kitchen scales), but you don’t notice it once it is in the bra. 

For this procedure I had my bra size measured. It may come as no surprise to find that I have been wearing the wrong size bra, probably for 20 years or more. So, rather than a 36D apparently I am a 42C!!!! Funny thing is, a 42 bra doesn’t seem much looser than a 36. The world of bra measuring seems weird and further investigation is needed. Plus hopefully weight loss!

Over all, I am feeling better about myself. I am used to the way I look and feel. I don’t exactly love the look of myself but it is who I am for now. For that reason, I will be sharing photos soon. I just need them to look as good as they can and the lovely Molly has offered to help me with that. There is no one I would rather have to photograph the new me. 

The new me

The new me is really the old me. I have lost just a small part of my body, not an arm or a leg. In terms of body mass or weight it is nothing. But when it comes to the impact of the removal of a breast it feels enormous. Breasts are not sex organs as such, but for a woman they are important elements in the act of sex. My nipples were always very sensitive and I loved to have my breasts touched. To experience that connection to your cunt, the enlarging of your clit and a flow of moisture from within is wonderful. Of course, I still have one nipple and one breast. The connection is still there and when he nibbles or sucks my nipple the reaction is the same.

Learning to love the remains of my breast

I want him to touch the area around my scar now it is healed. I know Master found it daunting, he was frightened he would hurt me. What’s more it took longer to heal than we expected. Fluid found its way out from the suture line and a dressing was required, right up until yesterday. He strokes me gently, running his fingers across and it feels pleasant.

There seems to be no sexual connection from that area and my cunt now. The breast tissue has been removed, but there is feeling. Along most of the scar line now, the sensation is normal. But under my arm the flesh feels as if it belongs to someone else. What’s more, there seems to be more of it than there was. The nurse told me that it’s because the breast previously held it in place. I’m not sure it can be toned through exercise or lost through dieting. Neither of those ever work on the exact areas you want them to.

Over the weekend I developed some weird and not pleasant pains in my right inner arm. It feels like the numbness is subsiding and in its place over sensitive nerves. They are quite the worst pains I have had over the past 5 weeks. But they are short lived, momentary even and happen at the oddest moments. When I stretch my arm our, when I lean forwards, when I try to lie on my right side. Not every time I do those things but often. This is making me a little irritable right now.

Diet, exercise and fitness

There are a host of exercises that I am meant to be doing to make sure my arms are mobile. As I lift them up to my head and above, there is a tightness on the right side, a pulling. The sudden jolting pain is new, but localised and definitely not muscular. I have a hunch I need to increase, not reduce the exercises and so I am trying that. I want to be able to go swimming, I think that would help. But since my scar is still a little vulnerable, I won’t do that yet. So I will try exercising my arm in the bath.

Over the past weekend we stepped up exercise levels in general. The weather was glorious; beautiful crisp sunny if cold days and no rain. We walked miles around London and only took public transport a few times. Walking is great for me and something I need to do daily, a challenge in winter but something that can be done.

Our other source of exercise has been sex and lots of it. That he feels horny most mornings and wants to have sex with me is making me feel good about myself. My mood is pretty good and I feel positive. He tells me how much he wants and needs me and has me tell him how much I want and need him. That affirmation is an important element of our M/s  relationship and also part of this healing process for us both.

Finally to diet. I am making the changes previously mentioned, though sticking to them is proving challenging. Mainly because in trying to eliminate one thing you can easily find yourself eating something else almost as bad. Plus over the weekend I ate more cheese than I maybe should have. However I am on the right track as I have lost 3lb over the past 2 weeks. A long way to go to get to a healthy weight but progress none the less.

Next week I see the oncologist and then we can start to plan. The radiotherapy of course, but Christmas and perhaps a trip to some warm weather in the new year.

The deed is done

The rollercoaster events of the past few weeks came to a conclusion yesterday. Once the decision for me to have a mastectomy was made last Wednesday we began to make plans for the weekend. Being away from home helped, and while we obviously discussed the operation, we also concentrated on having a good time.

The music festival got off to a great start with workshops about the poetry of Lord Byron and it’s musical settings, followed by a day on Debussy. There were evening concerts and meals in our favourite restaurants.

On Saturday night we drank a little too much, and Master took a few photographs of me naked in our Airbnb living room. I don’t know if we will ever show them, but we have a few good shots for ourselves.

Sunday was spent at a study session, learning about classical composers and their music across European and transatlantic borders. Then we travelled home. Driving home in the rain we encountered heavy traffic, but once home spent the evening quietly.

By now we both felt ready to face the inevitable. It was time to get this operation done. The time for commiserations done. On Monday morning I had an early breakfast and then we went back to bed for a while. Snuggled together he stroked and kissed me before bidding farewell to my right breast.

It turned out to be a long day

Although we arrived at the hospital at 12.30, I didn’t go for the operation until 4.30. My son came over to spend the afternoon with us. A slightly surreal but pleasant afternoon passed.

My first ever anaesthetic and operation passed smoothly and by 6.45pm I had woken up. I was amazingly awake and felt pretty good. The first face I saw as I arrived back on the ward was Master’s. A feeling of immense relief passed over me. Within minutes I was speaking to my son on the phone to reassure him all was well.

As I lay in my bubble of post surgery euphoria, I snuck a peek inside the front of my gown. My left breast remains in tact, its nipple still holding the plastic bar I bought for the operation. My right side is flat, the wound hidden by dressings, it’s breast and nipple is no more.

There were 4 of us women in our shared bay, all recovering from surgery for breast cancer. After Master and other visitors had left we lay in our beds talking about our experiences to date. Reflecting on this shared journey. Our nurses were kind and compassionate, encouraging us to talk.

It was a long night

Only one of us slept last night and that someone wasn’t me. The ward was quiet, but each of us had our lower legs encased in machinery designed to prevent thrombosis. The intermittent noise generated by each one seemed to prevent sleep. Added to this, regular observations by the diligent nursing staff and alarms elsewhere meant none of us slept for more than a few minutes at a time. Still the sence of cameradey carried us through to breakfast at 7am.

While the two women who had lumpectomies headed home at lunchtime, two of us remain for another night. I am hopeful of being sent home tomorrow. I faced my bare chest in the bathroom mirror this morning as I washed and don’t relish the thought of seeing my scar. But this has to be faced, and now hopefully the cancer is gone. Difficult days lie ahead for me and for him. But we are facing this together.

Treatment plan

Yesterday morning, in my Wicked Wednesday post I wrote about the coming couple of weeks and my hopes for the impending surgery. In the afternoon I saw my consultant and now have the treatment plan.

Unfortunately the tumour is twice the size that showed on ultrasound. I was reassured it doesn’t mean it has grown that much over the past month. But that this kind of cancer is difficult to measure. This means I need a mastectomy rather than lumpectomy. 

The options for a breast reconstruction were explained to us. I am really not keen on having one largish breast and one completely flat area for ever more. So, I was hoping for a reconstruction at the time of surgery. However, the surgeon explained that the radiotherapy could damage a silicone implant. With a 40% chance of requiring further surgery because of this, we felt this was a no go. So, in a years time I will have a reconstruction by a plastic surgeon, that will take some of my own tissue to be formed into a breast. People, I get a tummy tuck too!! 

I have tried hard to be positive over the past month, since the biopsy was taken. But I feel the rug has been pulled from beneath me and I am struggling emotionally now. Thankfully, I only have till Monday to consider the decisions that have been taken. By that evening my right breast will be gone. I am luckier than most, I doubt many people have the library of photos we have of my breasts. But I don’t know how painful it will be to look at them afterwards. Especially in those first few days. 

I intend to try to be body positive about this and when the time is right I will show my body on my blog.

The road ahead will be challenging, but I have Master to support me and I have nice things to do. Today we leave for our music festival until Sunday and will return when I am well enough to do so. 

Thank you for the kind words of support here on my blog and twitter, it helps to be part of this wonderful community. 

Pause

It feels a little as if we are on hold right now, someone has pressed the pause button. Around me, people are busily getting on with their lives, caught in the daily grind while I sit here and wait.

Life for me right now is made up of endless hospital appointments interspersed with doing very little. Shopping, cooking, the odd evening out, all of those things continue. We are also making time for some sex – well there is plenty time for sex, but obviously we don’t have sex all the time. There are still things around the house to be done, the big declutter continues – for him that is. Plus I continue to gradually unpack (assisting in his declutter). 

Yesterday I dug over a patch of the garden. It had become overgrown with weeds and grass. Also some bulbs with leaves but no flowers, we have no idea what they were. Now, the ground is clear and I have planted bulbs. This might be the last bit of strenuous work I do for a while. Very soon I will have to pause even more.

This afternoon I will get the results of the MRI scan, which took place only yesterday. The scan was a weird experience, not entirely unpleasant just very odd and noisy. Surgery will be soon, and today I will know when. Before that I will have a blood test and on the morning of the operation sentinel node imaging. This seems to be my life right now.

Having said all that, we do have one thing on the agenda. A two week trip to a nearby city for a classical music festival. For the past two years, this has been our way of taking a break from real life. A pause, you might say. Well it starts on Friday and we plan to spend as much of the next two weeks as possible there. Hospital appointments and operations permitting. We have an airbnb booked and will stroll the city, attend concerts and lectures. It will be a great place to pause the pause as it were!

Wicked Wednesday... a place to be wickedly sexy or sexily wicked

The follow up post can be found here

My space

This weeks Food 4 Thought Friday prompt is all about self care, something that I have considered much more over past few weeks. It is so easy to be wrapped up in work, family, friends, household chores etc. Less easy to find the space for yourself. This was very true for me over the past few years. Reading back over older blog posts I can see how my life was a circle of work, getting the house ready to sell, helping my mum move and finally my own move. Of course there have been wonderful holidays and weekend breaks, but often they are busy times. Finally now I can and also need to have time for myself and us. 

What activities do you indulge in to take care of you?

In the time since I finished work most of the self care has been reasonably sedentary. My body and brain needed to relax and unwind. The two holidays I have taken have been relaxing, I have read novels for the first time this year and strolled rather than rushed. I have also begun to blog more, but also read what others have written. 

Some of the things I like to do to relax include walking – exploring new places, eating nice food and drinking good wine. I have my sewing which has taken for ever to finish. I also like to be pampered – a manicure, pedicure, facial, not that I have had those for a long time. 

How regularly do you make time for yourself?

As I mentioned above, time for me was previously in short supply. Now though I can indulge myself and since my recent cancer diagnosis I need to. Finally family are giving me permission to concentrate on myself, but it is a shame that wasn’t the case before. 

My priority is my health and wellbeing and our relationship. For now, that is how it will be.

Is your sex life part of your self-care regime and, if so, what part does it play and how?

Sex is certainly part of the plan. But also the opportunity to spend time together while naked. To be allowed orgasms and to provide sexual service to my Master. I am not sure how my libido will be affected by the impending treatment. But meantime it seems wise to indulge ourselves. 

New realities

Yesterday, we had sex. Spur of the moment, lustful afternoon sex. 

In the morning we woke in a large, but slightly chilly hotel room. Breakfast was served till 10, so even though we were both randy as hell, we deferred. We showered together, he lathered my body with soap and caressed my breasts. He held me and kissed me and bent forward to take my right nipple in his mouth.

I am feeling mighty odd about my right breast. The bruise from the biopsy has faded, but is just visible. The hardness inside, the cancer, remains for the moment. I look at my breasts in the mirror and think that the right one has changed shape. Perhaps, maybe. I am scared that after the operation I won’t feel like me any more. worse that he won’t want this new me. These are stupid and crazy thoughts, but they are real.

He loves my breasts

He calls them jugs, they belong to him, along with the rest of me and he loves them. Over 4 years ago, while our relationship was still new, I had my nipples pierced, for him. Also though for me, and we both love those piercings. Yesterday he took some photos, in the hotel room. He said what I was thinking, that we need to take photos now, just in case. In case I need a mastectomy and it doesn’t look the same. We have lots of photos of my breasts, many of them are on this blog, but knowing what is about to happen means we want more.

After breakfast we set off to a nearby city and wandered around the cathedral. As I wandered around, looking at the beautiful architecture, the stained glass, the tombs of clerics from centuries ago. I was struck by the peace of the place and could see how people might turn to the church and religion in times of need. I don’t have that feeling myself, but found the environment some how reassuring. A place where the fog can clear and the future, whatever it brings be faced. 

When we got home we had sex

Not straight away. He went off into his office to attend to some admin and sort through photos. I sat reading blogs, catching up on Twitter and responding to comments on here. Suddenly, he appeared in front of me. He asked what I was doing and without really waiting for an answer he unzipped his trousers. Moments later I had his cock in his mouth, it tasted very good. Slightly salty, warm and hard. My cunt throbbed a little. His cock filled my mouth.

We went upstairs and stripped off. On the bed, he ran his fingers over my slick vulva and proclaimed that I was turned on too. Damn right I was. He pushed slowly but surely inside and my body welcomed him. I needed this, wanted to feel him, to know that he wanted me. He moved in and out with ease, my body opening up like magic. My head cleared as it had in the church and I concentrated on him, his cock and his fingers. 

This wasn’t an epic sex session. A couple of orgasms for me, a change of position and he was coming inside me. But it was pure in the moment, carnal desire. I needed to know he still fancied me and he does. And what is more, I fancy him too and I don’t think that will change. I just need to remember that when things get tough. 

Health and healing

Health and illness

I think that most of us take our physical and probably emotional health for granted. Especially if you have had very little cause to do otherwise. I know I have.

Even though I have been a nurse for over 30 years, some of them looking after people who are very sick or dying. Even though my dad died 4 years ago this week and I cared for him at the end. I have taken my health for granted.

Unfortunately I can no longer do that. A week ago I received news that the biopsy taken earlier in the month was malignant. Today we have been to see the breast surgeon and specialist nurse. I now know the type of cancer – invasive lobular breast cancer and stage; 2. It is estimated to be 3cm, but with this type of cancer it is difficult to estimate size even with ultrasound. So in the next few days I will have an MRI scan. Next month I will have surgery, hopefully a lumpectomy of the tumour is no bigger than 3cm.

Healing

It is very difficult to think about the healing process right now. I am just moving from diagnosis to decision-making into the treatment phase of this condition. But what I can see is that I need to consider my whole self, physical and emotional in order that I will heal completely. My emotions are pretty mixed up. I feel annoyed that this has happened right now, just when we are ready to enjoy life. On the other hand, I am glad there is no work to deal with as I don’t think I could manage that kind of stress. I feel sad that I can’t really plan stuff to do at the moment, but will now have to take every day / week as it comes. Treatment won’t end with the surgery. Then there is my body image, something I wrote about last week. I have always been proud of my breasts, and Master absolutely loves them. There is a possibility that I will need a mastectomy, though this will also include reconstruction surgery. Whatever happens though, my body will look and feel different.

Healing for me while all of this is going on will be about continuing to do the things we enjoy. I can see that doing normal things like going to concerts and films, seeing friends and family will be vital. Time too, spent relaxing, just being together, reading, watching tv, sewing and of course blogging. I also want to try to lose this extra weight I am carrying and take some exercise.

Health and healing has taken on a new meaning for me, but I will be concentrating on the parts of it that I can control and leave the rest to the health professionals.

Wicked Wednesday... a place to be wickedly sexy or sexily wicked

 

My body and me

I have always had difficult relationship with my body. I spent years believing I was fat and so hiding it away. Only to discover later, while looking back at old photos that I was slim. By then of course I’d put on a few stones. Before my pregnancy I had pretty small tits, but they grew and grew and thankfully stayed that way, even after I had breastfed.

Master says he likes my body, and that he wants something to grab hold of. I believe him and am comfortable in my own skin when I am around him. I love that he finds me sexy and arousing, even though I struggle to see it myself.

My mum has never held back from showing off her body. My son recently remarked that he found going holiday with nan a bit embarrassing, especially when she sunbathed topless. I never did so around him, partly after getting burnt in my youth, but mainly to avoid his blushes. Also, I thought I was fat, even when i wasn’t.

Hiding

Last Wednesday I arrived in Cyprus with my right breast covered in 2 large dressings. The day before, I attended a screening one stop clinic where I had 2 areas biopsied. A small area of calcium deposits was detected on the mammogram taken last month. The breast lump I had already found wasn’t seen on the xrays. I’m a nurse and I didn’t realise that would be the case. After much prodding, poking and an ultra sound scan, the area was biopsied. I still have a massive bruise to show for it.

The dressing was visible above my top, but if mum noticed it she said nothing. Sitting on the plane beside her, I wondered what I should say. As is often the case between she and I my decision was to say nothing. If the biopsies are negative she doesn’t need to know. However, since we are sharing a room this has presented a problem. And has led to me scurrying into the bathroom to dress, change and undress. It is a completely different situation to how things would be if I were home or indeed Master were here.

My reticence about speaking of my biopsy, of showing my body to others and in particular my mum exposes a deeper issue. She is not good with other people’s problems, she certainly managed to make my dad’s illness about her. But also we tolerate each other rather than enjoy each others company. Earlier in the week she actually described me as her carer, which I guess this week, I am.

But my inability to speak about the biopsy is also about me. It is about me coming to terms with changes in my own body. This summer I have developed a number of problems, including the lump. I am not healing as i did, bruises are taking longer to fade and disappear and there is something not right.

I don’t know if this is cancer or not, I will know on Thursday. But if it is, there will be no more hiding. If all is well, then maybe I need to take some lessons from this experience and value my body more. It’s the only one I have.

30th September

The outcome of the biopsy and next steps can be found here