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  • Writer's pictureCarey Cornacchini


Prior to my diagnosis, I'd been going to Lifetime Fitness five days a week and doing water aerobics. I was in the best physical shape I'd been in a while believe it or not so I had great energy going into this journey. (go figure - best shape of my life and I get cancer!) I haven't been able to get in the pool since May 31st. I was dying to get back! I have been walking every day but it just wasn't the same. I missed swimming, I missed my lady friends. It has been frustrating waiting - waiting to heal, waiting for the first chemo, waiting!

Anticipating that I would eventually get the go ahead, I bought a mastectomy suit from Lands End - yes they make them. Suit bought but what do I put in it? I can't wear a suit with just one breast! That would look just weird! I mean, flat on one side, gargantuan on the other. Did they even make prosthetics for the water?

I called Image Recovery in Royal Oak and found out there is a special prosthetic to wear in the water. Whoo Hoo! Appointment made, bathing suit in hand, I head there on Thursday. I’m taken into a dressing room suit in hand. The clerk lays out the prosthetics. They look like giant jelly fishes. Honestly, clear blobs. OMG does my real breast look like a blob?!? I get over the "look" of the prosthetic and move on to the size - gargantuan! I swear when I get the new set, they're going to be C's! I reach out and grab one. It's a big piece of silicone, a big blob of squishiness and HEAVY! Truly, can I just catch a break! My God, I'll be swimming with a weight on. Will it weigh me down? Will I swim lopsided? I have got to weigh this thing when I get home.

Shock over, I put the first one in my suit. Well I attempt to place it in my suit. Masectomy suits have a slit on the side where you can slip in the prosthetic. Attempt is a good word to describe the slipping in. The meaning of attempt - ​make an effort to achieve or complete something, typically a difficult task or action. ​ That would about sum it up what I was doing - attempt - difficult task. It was like trying to stuff an elelphant into a mouse hole. Get the picture?

Short of calling in the calvary, I finally get it in. I look in the mirror, looking straight on, turning from side to side. I have no idea if this is the correct one. I finally ask for help. This is where the "breast cancer has no dignity" thing comes in. I have exposed myself to more strangers than I care to remember. So once again, a complete stranger is feeling me up and looking at my chest. She assesses me and pronounces - "I think it's too small, you need a bigger size". Are you kidding me?!? My God the next size has to be as big as the state of Texas!

She grabs a larger size and we attempt (remember the meaning) to take out the smaller size and replace it with the larger one. It wasn't just me - she finds it really difficult also. She finally gets Texas in and I turn to look in the mirror. My God, Texas does looks better! I'm telling you, the next time around size C!

$200 later, Texas in hand, I leave ($135 for the prosthetic and I may have bought a few scarves and hats). :)

I see my oncologist, Dr. Youssef, that afternoon. It was a great visit. He normally would see me after each chemo treatment. He feels I'm handling it so well I won't need to see him for a month. I ask if I can begin swimming. The answer - YES! Double Whoop! Whoop! Today is a great day!

I wake up this morning looking forward to the day. Yes, I'm still nauseous but it's tolerable. I eat breakfast, grab Texas and miraculously insert it. I'm ready to go.

The closer I get to Lifetime the happier I am. I arrive and walk with my friend Tina. This feels normal, like coming home. I walk into class and am greeted by John, the instructor. I show him Texas and ask what do you think? I wonder if I'll float or do you think it will weigh me down? He laughs. John gets me - lol!

I get into the water and feel at home. I'm doing something normal today and I feel great! I last the entire hour, though, there are times when I don't work full out and

John gives me instructions to help me not damage anything. But I did it! I feel energized! I get a smoothie on the way out, and think to myself - yep today is a great day Texas and all!


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