I miss my nipples. I miss the lovely tingly feeling when I brush fingers across them. I miss how they contract when it gets cold. Or when I’m aroused. I don’t miss my breasts nearly as much. They were a nuisance. Heavy pendulous things covered by a bra that gave me a backache. In case you were wondering, my back is so much better now, thank you.
Yes, I’ve had a double mastectomy. And before you’re thinking that I’m going through gender re-assignment, let me assure you that’s not the case. Although I do look much more masculine now. Last year my life was saved by the fabulous women doctors and nurses at the Royal North Shore Hospital in Sydney.
I am one of the 18,000 women who are diagnosed with breast cancer in this country every year. My only risk factor was that I had a child after the age of 40. I’d had a total of three ultrasounds and a mammogram before I had a biopsy on the lump. Why did I persist? My nipple had started to tingle.
There’s a lot of things they don’t tell you about breast cancer. If you’re diligent, as I am, and have regular mammograms you expect to have the cancer spotted before it spreads. But mammograms aren’t a panacea, especially if you have dense and calcified breasts. The surgeon couldn’t see the cancer on the film and ordered an MRI scan. The only thing that absolutely confirms the presence or lack of cancer is a biopsy. My mantra is now “biopsy your lump”.