I have 4 breasts. I’ve lost 3 along the way, so that makes 7 in total – a strikingly magical number.
My right breast is an amazing, hand-crafted piece of art, sculpted out of my own flesh. It is admired by medical professionals on a regular basis.
My left chest wall is flat and scarred. My left breast tried to kill me, too, and had to be removed. The implant I had put in failed. I can’t have another go – the skin is thinned and scarred by radiotherapy. It’s not viable.
Obviously, if I’d known this was how things were going to end up, I wouldn’t have had the reconstruction. I’d be flat all over. I’d have a choice of breasts – no breasts at all for sport; small, chic ones for sophisticated occasions; party ones! Maybe.
Instead, I have a small collection of left breast prostheses. Be aware that I am a woman who can’t control her pens, her sunglasses, her mobile or her reading glasses. That means my kids are used to hearing me shout “I’ve lost my boob, I’ll be down in a minute”. That counts as normal in our house now.
Firstly, I have a firm, silicone breast. My every day breast. It’s reasonably realistic in texture, but it’s always cold, and it’s the same plastic pink colour as my daughter’s long neglected Barbie.
Next I have a clear, light-weight, chlorine resistant swimming breast. Sometimes I wear it all the time – if we’re going away on hand luggage only. It looks like an affectionate jellyfish, snuggling up to me. It feels weird.
My last breast is the first one they gave me post-op. It’s a little muppet softy, gentle on new, tender wounds. It feels like a firmly stuffed rag doll – without the arms and legs. And head. I wear it for running, because there’s no friction.
Now I don’t have any breasts of my own, I have more than any woman could reasonably need.