Why I Went Flat
By: Melissa Jansen | Vice President, Flat Closure NOW
I was sitting on the couch watching television when my hand brushed my breast and I noticed the lump. The words that flew from my mouth and landed in my husband’s lap were immediate and heavy, “Oh My God….I have cancer!”
If I think about that moment in time my immediate, knee-jerk reaction was a swirling of inner knowledge seeped from my brain and each word spoken to my husband came in quick succession. “I don’t want a lumpectomy” – “I don’t want my perfect boob to have some scoop taken out of it, I will look deformed.”
The fact is, at the time I didn’t know what I wanted, I just knew my body was about to be carved into and I was not going to look the same. My perfect breasts were on the chopping block, and my mind was processing this fact even more than the cancer.
I didn’t know anything about breast cancer “options,” but I did know this; I had a friend who had breast cancer a few years beforehand, and she had a lumpectomy. She was the first person who had shared her breast cancer journey with me. Of course, she was first on my call list.
I didn’t go to a doctor straight away because I had other pressing matters at hand. One of my closest friends had died the week before and I was organizing her funeral, and my daughter was about to get married. I also didn’t even have a doctor to call!
When I called my friend she told me that O Magazine had just come out with a large spread on breast cancer, and she advised me to get it. I did and read it cover-to-cover.
The magazine was thorough and full of information on all the different options, but what resonated with me, was not those perfect reconstructed breasts. My mind, body, and soul gravitated towards the pictures of Chiara D’Agostino and Beth Fairchild, with their glorious flat chests on full display. Catherine Guthrie had written this particular article emphasizing how these remarkable women were living flat and proud. From that moment, thanks to Catherine Guthrie who wrote the I knew I couldn’t do reconstruction. I wanted a flat closure.
If you ask me why I chose to keep my remaining breast, I can only tell you that it was just what I knew I wanted to do. I wanted my one breast removed. I repeatedly told myself that I didn’t want to be “deformed”… although some critics say that living one breasted is a version of “deformity.” I beg to differ.
I honor all women in their choice during their breast cancer journey be it double mastectomy, lumpectomy, reconstruction or any other option. I know that being one-breasted is right for me. I am grateful to the women who offered themselves to be photographed for the media. These images and their stories helped me realize what I wanted for my own body. My biggest hurdle became trying to find other photographs of one-breasted women; I couldn’t find very many.
This has inspired my mission to give such imagery to women who choose to go “half-flat,” so that they are represented and empowered to feel just as good about their medical decisions, and their bodies.
I applaud my surgeon for listening to my wishes. His superior skills have given me a good surgical outcome. This has enabled me to share my photographs with other women who can now see that being one-breasted without reconstruction is an option. I am proud to be a member of Flat Closure NOW and am honored to represent one-breasted women in the flat community.