Absurd, you say, couldn't happen. Well, believe it or not, it did. I kid you not. See, it was hot – very hot. And I'd been wearing a prosthesis since my mastectomy in 1984. No big deal. I've gotten used to it, it goes on and off just like another piece of clothing. And like other types of apparel, I have more than one of 'em, good for different occasions.
But, as I said, it was hot. Very hot. Did I mention humid? I decided to wear the artificial breast that goes with my swimsuit because it's made of mesh and lots cooler than the everyday thing. After dinner, I walked to get the feel of the city. Lima's a fantastic place, by the way, teeming with life and smiling people. I admit it, I was distracted.
Back in my room, I discovered something missing. Yeah. You got it. My breast had deserted me. Somewhere on the busy streets of Lima lay my poor mesh boob. Not even able to speak a word of Spanish! I've often wished I could have watched the street cleaner sleepily ply his broom the next morning.
I lost my breast in Lima, Peru ... sad to say, that's not the first time it went walkabout.
It happened on the Maryland Eastern Shore too. Extracting myself from the car en route to a seafood restaurant, I felt something slither past my waist. When Jim (my significant other) asked what was wrong, I told him to get a table and I'd be right in. As he shrugged and continued on, I scrabbled in the gutter to rescue my prosthesis - and it took some doing to replace it in the car, that town being a busy place.
I lost my breast in Maryland ... and that's not the end of it.
I have had it slip to my waist to be pinioned by a waistband, leaving people looking askance at my odd growth. Then there was the company Christmas party. Luckily, it became obvious at Jim's house that I'd forgotten to insert that little darlin', since one side of my sexy new dress hung empty. Jim, quick on the draw, handed me a rolled pair of socks, and thus armed, we ventured triumphantly into the snowy night.
I was one of the lucky ones. The cancer had not spread and I didn't need any other treatment after my surgery. A cancer survivor visited me in the hospital to help me through the tough emotional part – losing a breast. It hadn't hit me yet. I was just so pleased to be alive and with a bright future ahead of me that losing a piece of flesh was secondary. I asked the lovely woman if the loss would wash over me at some later date. Her answer – it might. Hadn't hit her yet. And it was 20 years since her surgery. Decided then and there that there were no tears to be shed for me. Let's get on with life.
But I didn't count on losing my breast all over the globe.
There have been lots of laughs. Such as when I was being fitted for a new one (protheses have a two year shelf life) and the fitter asked me how I liked its thrust. Thrust! Good God. I just wanted something to hold my clothes out where they were meant to be. I controlled myself until she asked if I wanted a nipple. Then I lost it. Poor woman. I drove her from the dressing room with my guffaws and had the whole shop in laughing tears by the time I left.
Once I had to dive to the bottom of the swimming pool to rescue my poor drowning boob. It almost expired but I got to it in the nick of time. A little mouth to whatever and it was fine.
Almost let it get away again in the water at St. Croix in the US Virgin Islands. There is virtually no tide movement there but a big wave hit me and the darn thing popped out. Its airborne arc startled my companions before it plopped into the churning water between us. As Jim reached down and retrieved it and I calmly replaced it, the conversation never skipped a beat.
Life can be good if you let it.
Yeah, I know. I know. There are bras made especially for prostheses with cute little pockets sewn into the cups. Don't like them. I only need one pocket and most come with two. So the second pocket holds me flat while the prosthesis proudly juts into the world. At 71, it shouldn't matter to me that I look lopsided but it does. Damn it, it does.
I have finally found that underwire bras will hold that precious half pound of whatever the thing is made of. Though life isn't quite as adventuresome now, it was a gas while it lasted.Editor's Note: The author retains all rights to this article. If you enjoyed it, please click on the Breast Cancer site to fund free mammograms for breast cancer prevention.