By Andrea Magni
I am a master of reframing …
Reframing is an important skill as it takes you from a place of zero choice to being the master of your own destiny.
There is a legend that Amazonian women would remove their breasts to make them a better archer and warrior. It isn’t true and yet for some breast cancer survivors it is: removing their breasts makes them much more able to fight and live on.
As we navigate our treatments there are some well-meaning people who will refer to our breast surgery as a “boob job” or they’ll comment on how sore their boob job was when trying to let you know they “understand.”
Our Breast Cancer survivor group meets once a week and we have no agenda. One week I discussed the fact that breast surgery was an amputation and it resonated so deeply with everyone.
When I had my double mastectomy they hollowed out my body from one rib cage and armpit to the other. All the flesh under my skin was removed. I had implants placed over my pec minor muscle and under the pec major muscle and stitched into place. This was not an augmentation or “boob job”.
My breasts have changed so much over my life, from pre-puberty, adolescence, young adult, overweight, pregnant, breast feeding, and after. When I learned I had breast cancer and had opted to have a double mastectomy I grieved. I grieved for the loss of naiveté and the innocence of life. I was not sure then if my cancer had spread, all I knew was I wanted to take the most extreme action.
My 2.0s as I affectionately call the upgrade (only an upgrade in that they’re not trying to kill me), are big. 34DDs. I did not ask for them to be this size. The surgeon made her mind up while I was on the table. I believe she could have gone smaller but she looked at my almost 6 foot frame and thought I “could handle the scale”. There are some downsides to this: tops do not fit like they used to. The size makes them heavy. None of my old bras fitted and I have to wear bras with serious construction permits and broader straps. There is a reason the DD’s have special sections in the bra store. My breasts do not mold into the bra – the bra has to fit perfectly and even then after several hours the implant squashes my skin into the bra frame. I was hoping to be able to go bra free every now and then and this is not really possible. They are simply too large. Thankfully Sports tops are helpful.
The positives still outweigh the negatives: I have breasts, they do have feeling (and this is wonderful), I did get some new lingerie, they allow me to talk about breast cancer in a refreshing way. I love the 2.0s very much.
Best 2.0 moment: a few weeks after surgery we were staying at my Dad’s house and he was reading the kids and I a bedtime story. My daughter was tucked up next to me and leaned in, put her head on my chest, she looked up and said “mommy does this hurt?” I pulled her closer and said “no, it feels wonderful”.
Second best 2.0 moment is how good they look in a halter neck bikini! See? Silver lining!
What do you want to see differently in your world? Maybe I can help with perspective and reframing.
Reframing puts the responsibility of choice back in your corner. For example: “my doctor says I have to exercise or I will have a heart attack. So I guess I had better go to gym.” Or you could take ownership of the idea and say “I want to be well and make better choices for my body. I want to go to gym”.
Coaching to reframe is a powerful cognitive tool that helps develop perspectives that better serve your goals.