Find your tribe they said. Okay. So where do I find a tribe of flat chested women? And where do I find ones who had no say in the matter? Facebook! Yeah. That's where.
So I started looking for my tribe and found a group called Flatties. Cute. And appropriate. These would be my people.
I submitted a request to join and answered the questions. Apparently, I passed the test. They let me in. Now I have a group of women who understand what it's like to go through life without breasts - thanks cancer.
Of course, the choice wasn't only up to cancer. Yes, it was the cause behind the choice but the choice not to reconstruct was ours. We had that power. We were smart. We had considered all options. We chose freedom from more surgeries and the possibility of more infections and more pain.
So what if our chests are scarred? At least we're still here. We are alive and we are strong.
We wouldn't be human if we didn't have our moments of weakness, though. We'd be liars to admit we don't wish things had been different. Sure, we mourn our loss at times. And yes, we cry. A lot. Who wouldn't?
Becoming breastless is tragic. The emotional, physical, and spiritual pain behind it is unexplainable but those who've experienced it understand. Yes, I need a tribe.
In the group, I find women who are unashamed of posting photos. Their bare chested shots don't shock me. In fact, I find them quite brave. At least they're willing to take a risk - to prove cancer couldn't take all of them. I'm proud to call them friends, albeit virtual.
There are days I don't like myself much. When I look in the mirror, I see ugliness, disfigurement, flatness. But, then I remember. The choice to be flat was mine. I could have chosen the route of breast reconstruction. I could have allowed the doctor to slice chunks of fat off my body and sew them in place upon my chest forming mounds of fake breast tissue that may or may not have survived. Tissue that doesn't survive is called necrotic. And when it dies, it has to be removed immediately.
Reconstruction is a long, drawn out process and one I didn't care to participate in. Yes, I could have been a medical fake, a fraud, the great pretender...but I chose not to do so. I chose to let others see what breast cancer took from me. It took parts of my body but did not take the whole. I am still here. I am alive and I am proud of that.