Breast Cancer · Mastectomy



If you’re a child of the 70’s or 80’s you’ll know immediately what the numbers above mean. For everyone else please read on.

Before smart phones became a thing, kids had to use calculators for fun.  Can you imagine that? No mobiles to communicate – we had to talk, write letters, use calculators…

Believe it or not, there are all kinds of amusing japes and fun games you can carry out on a simple pocket calculator.

One of them is a story involving a girl and her size 84 breasts…or something like that, I forget the details (I am 40 you know!)  As the story’s told, corresponding numbers are entered into your digital machine, before clicking the equals button to reveal the answer = 55378008.  Turn the calculator upside down and is reads BOOBLESS.


Except now I am the woman in the story. I am boobless!

Well actually, that’s a lie.  I have a couple of hard, cold, pert lumps attached to the front of my chest, with a long neat scar across the centre of each one, like a zip. There are no nipples, there’s no sensitivity, they don’t move.

The left boob puckers up around the bottom like the edge of a whoopee cushion and the right boob has an additional angular scar leading off the ‘zip’ pointing towards the centre of my chest.  This is from where the cancer was hoisted from my body and I like to imagine it was dragged out kicking and screaming before being plunged into an incinerator, yelling ‘I’m melting, I’m melting’ in the manner of the Wicked Witch of the East.  The bastard!

These are the breasts I’ll live with for the rest of my life and whilst they’re far from perfect, I adore them.

They’re healthy.

But getting them wasn’t an easy ride.

A couple of weeks before the operation I found myself stood in vast, vacant, magnolia walled photographic studio, stripped to the waist and feeling extremely self-conscious. A few pictures were needed of my boobies for the surgeon to use during the procedure.

A female nurse stood to the left of me whilst the male photographer fiddled with his camera, clamping it in front of his face as if not wanting to look at me with his naked eye.

‘I’m just going to snap a few shots from different angles’ he said ‘don’t be nervous, I’ll direct you as we go. The pictures will only be seen by your consultant, only the very best ones make it into The Folder.’

NB: ‘The Folder’ is a red lever arch file the lovely Breast Care Nurses show you in the unfortunate event you need a mastectomy. It’s like the Freemans catalogue of titties, showing prospective patients a variety of different surgical outcomes; from completely flat to full on Barbara Windsor.

‘Oh hahahahaha, I’m not too worried about being in the folder’ I lied.

My nerves suddenly disappeared and I adjusted my face into ‘photo-mode’ (slightly pouty, no teeth on show, eyes wide open to mask crows feet) and pulled in my tummy.

‘Right boobs this is IT’ I told my mammaries ‘I’ve worried about you two for the past seventeen years, now is your chance to repay me. We WILL make it into that folder’

The photographer clicked away, occasionally asking me to hold one arm up or turn to the side slightly. I twisted, turned and posed like a pro, thrusting my chest out for full effect. I felt like Abi Titmuss.

‘Okay, I’ve finished. Would you like to take a look at a couple of the shots’ Mr Photographer asked once I had covered my dignity.

‘Yeah, okay’ I replied nonchalantly, secretly thrilled at the prospect of seeing my ‘FHM’ worthy pictures in all their glory and making a mental note to Google possible agents as soon as I got out of there.

But as I gazed down into the tiny screen of his camera I had to double take.

He’d made a mistake.

What. The. F*CK?

Surely this wasn’t me? It couldn’t be me. Could it?

Firstly, my face has been cut out of every single shot. All that pouting and posing had been for NOTHING.

Secondly, my bazongas looked like a pair of spaniels ears.

The breasts I had imagined would look ample, soft and like perfect teardrops were actually hanging limply down by my sides. Battle weary after four children, they had simply given up and now drooped like wind socks somewhere near my belly button. NOT the look I had imagined.

And so when my surgeon stood drawing black lines over my bristols on the morning of the surgery, and asked me whether I liked my breasts, my answer was a resounding ‘No’

They had let me down in bad way.

And will I make it into the red folder?  I’ll keep you posted!

(first picture of me meeting my two new pals)Hello boobies

3 thoughts on “55378008

  1. Welcome to your new boobs.. oh and you of course.. Thanks for popping over to my blog and as you know, as a family, we’ve been very aware of the impact of mastectomy. Jen was lucky to have the option to have her mastectomy before cancer reared it’s ugly head and she is recovering brilliantly. Thank you for being brave enough to share your journey too as the ‘on line’ forums Jen accessed really helped her through the practical aspects of having a double mastectomy and continues to be a brilliant support for her. It’s difficult to really understand the impact when we haven’t been there whereas people who have experienced it themselves are an amazing help.
    Sending you a big hug for your bravery in sharing your journey xx


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