Finding allure after Mastectomy
By Josephine Agbonkhese
There’s just something mysterious about the woman’s breasts. These two stylised protrusions on the woman’s chest have always been seen especially by the opposite sex, as unusual and fascinating.
As a result, from childhood, the male child is remarkably more obsessed with the mother’s breasts than the female, seeing them as a source of food and comfort. As the child progresses into adulthood, this obsession is transferred to those of his lover.
“The breasts were the first things I was ever introduced to as a child. Remember, even the Bible says the child will always go the way he was trained. So, we’ve been so wired from birth. That’s why you see babies swing their legs in excitement while sucking from their mother’s breasts. As a father, I get really jealous seeing this because I feel they are mine,” Johnson Ariyo, a 35-year-old Computer Engineer, said to Vanguard Allure of the attraction to a woman’s breasts.
“Read your Bible very well and you will find that one of the things which made Adam eat from Eve even when he knew that was the forbidden fruit, were her breasts. The fall of great men have often been because of the woman’s breasts” says Elias Ebohon, a Lagos residence.
But the breasts, which clearly defines a woman’s femininity, can also be extremely lethal – no thanks to breast cancer. In extreme cases, a woman may require a mastectomy in other to stay alive.
A mastectomy, which can be done as part of treatment for breast cancer or, in some cases, to help prevent breast cancer in women who have a high risk for it, refers to the surgical removal of one or both breasts.
As frightening as this might sound, frankly, one only just has to be a woman to be at risk of breast cancer, and thousands of women globally are opting for mastectomy in order to stay alive.
Hollywood actress, Angelina Jolie, in 2013 for example, had to undergo double mastectomy to reduce her chances of getting breast cancer after her doctor estimated she had an 87% risk of the disease.
But how does life feel post-mastectomy since the breasts also serve the aesthetic value of adding glamour to the woman’s silhouette?
Some survivors bare their minds.
“I am comfortable in my own skin” says Anne Peter (not real names), a 41-year-old breast cancer survivor who had a double mastectomy in 2017. “I do not feel one inch less of a woman.
Mastectomy doesn’t make us less beautiful or feminine. In fact, society needs to teach women to accept ourselves more as humans than as sexy women.”
For Adeosun Bosede Adeyombo, a 58-year-old survivor who went through a single mastectomy as part of her breast cancer treatment, all she feels post-mastectomy is peace and happiness.
“It doesn’t change anything. In fact, it is only when I’m in the room that I remember I have only one breast. When I’m outside, I don’t remember at all and you will never know anything happened to me. It is all about faith; and survival also heavily involves money. It does not affect my self-esteem in any way. Thank God my husband too is very understanding.
“In fact, removing the affected breast makes me always happy because the pain is gone. We have a support group that also teaches us how to feel good about ourselves without feeling awkward. Now, all I do is follow-up checks; I do not have to worry about cancer anymore. I also ensure I don’t eat junk foods. I make sure I cook my food myself; all my foods are natural now.”
While survivors might feel indifferent about losing one or both breasts to stay alive, one wonders what the actual feeling of the man who finds the woman’s breasts fascinating, will be.
Ugbeni Francis, a Lagos-based realtor, told Vanguard Allure his biggest attractions to his wife are her intelligence and industriousness rather than her body part.
“Naturally, God has made us complete. Once such happens, as humans, it has a way of reducing some attraction. But as a Christian, I will accept it in good faith.
“Instead of it triggering a divorce, it will strengthen me more to be with my partner. I will do all I can to show her more empathy; it shouldn’t reduce my love in any way. Otherwise, such a survivor could suffer depression.
“I must say, however, that my first points of attraction to my wife are her intelligence and industriousness.
“She is intelligent and hardworking. Facially, she is also very beautiful. For me, her intelligence is the asset I have. So, the breasts do not matter,” Ugbeni explained.
Ebohon Stanley, a 29-year-old bachelor thinks differently.
“Why would I stick to a woman who has lost her breasts? What then I’m I marrying? What will even take me to her in the first place? I won’t have anything to play with! No feeding bottle will be like the breasts. I’m sorry to say this but if we were married before the ailment, I will have to seek pleasure outside. Though it may not affect my marriage, I do not think I will find it easy even if she goes for reconstruction.”
Bayo Adesina, a 33-year-old about to walk down the aisle, said that no deformity would make him turn his back on the woman in his life.
“The breasts should not be an issue because love and companionship are most important. Personally, I do not think I should abandon anyone simply because of any deformity because I do not know what the next minute would result to for me. A cousin of mine always mocked a lady with crippled legs in his neighbourhood. Then, suddenly, he was involved in an auto-crash with his friend and he lost an eye. So, mastectomy should not affect any relationship. Besides, marriage is supposed to be for better for worse.”
Mastectomy is real; just as breast cancer is real—and more and more women are choosing to stay alive by opting for the removal of their breasts to cut down their risks of breast cancer. While some consider a breast reconstruction procedure after a mastectomy, others opt for using a breast form or prosthesis (inside the bra or attached to the body to wear under their clothes), or even the option of going flat (not wearing a breast form).
Whichever option a survivor chooses to embrace, as the global community spreads awareness on breast cancer this October, it is only humane that society understands the importance of helping survivors embrace their new bodies.
At present, due to fear of stigmatisation caused by ignorance on the part of members of the public, most breast cancer survivors dread being identified as one; especially those who had to undergo a mastectomy.
There is therefore, a need for more awareness on this reality which is currently the new normal for millions of women worldwide, who would rather die with this secret than opening up.