Before Your Surgery: Memorializing Your Breasts

Woman making plaster cast of breasts before mastectomy Image Credit: Patricia Chambers
A plaster cast can be used to create a keepsake.
Photo Credit: Patricia Chambers (SELF Magazine, 2015)
Young woman pre-mastectomy boudoir Photo Credit Claire Burnett
A boudoir session is an option for remembering your pre-surgery body.
Photo Credit: Claire Burnett (Smithsonian Magazine)

More about preparing for your mastectomy with aesthetic flat closure at the Preparing for Surgery page.

Memorializing Your Breasts: Options to Consider

You may want to consider memorializing your breasts before your surgery. Then after your mastectomy, you will have something tangible with which to remember and honor your previous breasted body. Here are a few ideas, sourced from breast cancer survivor-created lingerie company AnaOno and life coach and breast cancer survivor Melissa Eppard:

  • Photos. Photos of your breasts can help you remember them after they’re gone and play a role in supporting you through your grief and healing process. You can take intimate photos either by yourself or with a partner. Or, you can have professional photos taken – there are many photographers who specialize in boudoir, with options for all different styles and preferences. Peruse Instagram or Pinterest to gather some “inspiration” photos that you like to show to your photographer.
  • Write a letter or journal/poetry about your breasts. Or, address your letter TO your breasts – some people find a sense of peace in thanking their breasts for what they’ve done for them and “letting them go.”
  • Hold a farewell ceremony or celebration with friends and/or family. It can be as lighthearted as making a silly cake and enjoying the company and support of loved ones, or as solemn as you prefer. Some people have a special spiritual or religious practice, or meditation routine, that helps them process their feelings.
  • Make a paper mâché or plaster cast of your breasts or torso, or have one professionally made, that can be turned into a sculpture you can keep.

Some women don’t feel inclined to do any of these things, and that’s ok too – preparing emotionally for your mastectomy is a very individual process and you know what’s right for you.

Some articles and inspiration:

Published by Not Putting on a Shirt

Founder of Not Putting on a Shirt, a mastectomy patients' rights organization that advocates for optimal surgical outcomes for patients going flat.

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