A Breast Cancer Survivor Explains Why She 'Dropped a Boob'

Illustration for article titled A Breast Cancer Survivor Explains Why She 'Dropped a Boob'

Rita Henley Jensen is 69, and after her mastectomy she started the process of reconstructing her missing breast through surgery. Then she took a sharp left turn.

Jensen is a writer and founder of Women’s eNews. In an essay for SheKnows, Jensen writes that she’s stuck by her decision to forgo reconstruction surgery, saying, “I do not regret that I decided to drop a boob. I do regret that the post-mastectomy bathing suit I bought is ugly, by my lights. I would really like my black Speedo back.” Love her.

Jensen describes being in the surgeon’s office, realizing exactly what she would be going through if she wanted to pick that boob back up again:

I was asked to strip down to pretty much nothing, and the plastic surgeon took photographs of my nakedness, asking me to rotate so that he could have on-hand photos of my entire upper section. “Why?” I asked. And he had a perfectly prepared reply: He had to decide to take tissue from my back, my butt or my stomach — or maybe implants or some combination.

“Oh,” I said.

He added that he would then have to rearrange blood vessels from my belly area to the breast area to keep the newly pasted-in tissue alive.

“Oh,” I said.

He very carefully explained the complexity and hazards of the prospective surgery.

“Oh,” I said.

He asked if I had any questions, and I wanted to know how long I’d be out from work. He said I should be able to return to work after six weeks.

I fled. As the CEO of a small nonprofit, there was no way I could miss six weeks of work.


No regrets. That vivid step-by-step really drives home the painstaking process of recovery, and the sacrifices women are pressured to make in exchange for “normalcy.” Jensen says her internist was impressed and glad that she’d said no to reconstruction, and her co-workers didn’t even notice when she forgot to put the prosthesis into the pocket built into her post-surgery bra. The whole essay is well worth reading here.

Image via Flickr.

Contact the author at aimee.lutkin@jezebel.com.

Contributing Writer, writing my first book for the Dial Press called The Lonely Hunter, follow me on Twitter @alutkin

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I was diagnosed at 29 with a tumor large enough that mastectomy was the only option. It’s important for people to know that the razzle-dazzle surgical reconstructions that sometimes are out there in the media (a la Angelina) are most often for people who didn’t have cancer at all (preventative) or didn’t have the full array of treatment including mast/radiation which has distorted that half of my chest beyond recognition. If the cancer was bad enough, there are no pretty options. Happily for me, I could give less of a F about pretty and wear sports bras with both pads put into my cancer side, and go merrily about my way!