Rachel Joy Horn is a writer, blogger, and editor for eHow.com. After testing positive for a genetic mutation linked to breast cancer, Rachel underwent a prophylactic double mastectomy at 21. She blogs about her journey on Ticking Time Bombs, a resource for other women at risk of breast cancer. Rachel currently resides in sunny Santa Monica, California. You can ask her questions about her journey on RealSelf here.
Question #1: Did you do anything special to say bye to your boobs before the surgery?
Oh you bet I did! I wanted to bid my boobs farewell in style and I also wanted to let my friends know about the upcoming surgery, so I planned Breast Fest 2012. It was a party in the garden of my apartment. I made an event on Facebook explaining what the surgery was and what the party would be like, and I was pleasantly surprised to see the turnout of people there to support me! I wore a cute little crop top that really showed off my boobs, and I made boob-themed jello shots and decorated with pink balloons. I also gave a little speech. And here’s the poem I wrote for the event:
Only half of us have them,
but we all can agree:
they’re bubbly and round
and they fill us with glee.
I’ve known mine for years
(the last twenty-one or so)
and it gives me such sadness,
to see them go.
But before they’re replaced
by saline delights
let’s say goodbye in style
with one hell of a night.
So whatever you call them—
tatas, titties, boobies or breasts—
come celebrate mine
and treasure my chest!
Question #2: How did your boyfriend react when you told him you were going to get the surgery?
I think he was freaked out at first, but he tried not to show it because he didn’t want to scare me. I made a point of being as scientific as possible with him, explaining the facts of the gene mutation and why it was a benefit to have the surgery now. I also made sure he knew that my boobs weren’t going to be gone forever—I was just replacing the filling inside.
He was cautious of his word choice because he knew I was in a delicate state emotionally. He did a lot of listening. I think he handled the situation really well. Unfortunately we aren’t together anymore, but it is not because of my surgery. He stuck with me the entire time, through finding out about my genetic mutation to my mastectomy to my infection and then to my final implants. He was there for me at the lowest points, and for that, he will always have a special place in my heart. Now that I’m single again and out in the dating world, I’m reminding myself that a guy who is weirded out or uneasy about the surgery and my new boobs isn’t worth my time.
Question #3: What was it like shopping for bras after your mastectomy?
It was so much fun! I received quite a few Victoria’s Secret gift cards after my surgery, so I was excited to finally get to use them. But I was luckier than many women; my plastic surgeon didn’t put any bra restrictions on me. Some women have to wear soft bras without wires for months or even a year after they get their implants. I was permitted to wear underwire bras immediately.
While bra shopping, I found that the bras with thicker straps were my favorite. I also did not like push-up bras; they didn’t really fit the same way they fit before my mastectomy.
It’s worth it to get measured properly when you go bra shopping for the first time after your surgery. Try on a few different sizes; I measured in around 38C /36D, and I tried on both sizes but determined that the 36D fit the best.
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Want to read more about Rachel? Check out her stories below!
Ask Rachel: How She Calmed Her Mastectomy Nerves
Ask Rachel: How She Picked Her Implants
Ask Rachel: How To Exercise After A Mastectomy, Deal With Disappointment & More