Nothing Without Me

240/275. Those are the number of CCs of saline that are in my breasts. Lefty is still a little behind righty. I feel huge. I feel like a small child is sitting on my chest. I feel a little karmic backlash from all my pre-expansion desired breast size jokes (Real big, super obvious, not subtle, double Gs like my initials, jokes). I am starting to worry about how the months with these expanders, which have to get much bigger before we can exchange for smaller, will be.



During this whole process I’ve made comments like “they’re just boobs” and meant it. How lucky was I that Breast Reconstruction is so easy compared to losing other body parts. At the farmer’s market I saw a man with a prosthetic leg and gave myself a little perspective slap in the face because they really were just boobs. But I’m starting to feel a little sad and missing my BB’s (birth boobs). Until they tried to kill me they never did me any wrong. Never acted recklessly or caused me any shame. I miss them. And more than anything I miss how I didn’t think about them at all. How they just were a part of me that required little to no effort. Now I think about my Expanders all the time. I think about how I look all the time. Do people see how uneven they are? Can they see my shape through my shirt? If I can’t wear a bra because they hurt that day, are my nipples offending anyone? Can I sleep on my side again? Will people judge me for still wanting to be social even when I’m in pain and not working? Did I just run into someone with one of my boobs and not notice? Did I really just hit the door with one of them and NOT NOTICE!?

“I am not my body. My body is nothing without me.” -Tom Stoppard

Before my double mastectomy I asked a photographer to take some pictures. I did not want boudoir or lingerie. I just wanted to document what I looked like at 33. I wanted to remember my BBs and have the photos when I want to share this part of my life with someone not just though stories and blog posts, but visually. Mostly I wanted something tangible I could do in order to feel some control. We took the photos in my bedroom, with the morning light pouring in through the window. The picture are beautiful. I love that I have some with sweet peas and that the macrame my mom, who also is a cancer survivor, made for me is showcased on the wall. I think I look so small. And scared. But I also think I look strong, even when I didn’t feel it. Even when all I wanted to do was close my eyes and pretend it wasn’t happening. Some of these picture I have already and will continue to share on this blog. Some I won’t because they’re private, but it is something I whole heartedly would recommend any woman do before having a similar surgery.

Black and White (and freckley). Photo by Madi Cline (
Me. Photo by Madi Cline (

This is just a part of my journey and already it feels like a memory. The pictures make me sad but also happy when I see my BBs. They were nice, but they weren’t perfect. Just like my new ones will be. Just like all breasts are. Just like we all are.


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