The Unforeseen Struggle

I have a tale to tell. A story of epic failures and misguided freedom. A tale of misconception trying to cover reality. A true account of a woman’s frustrations and defeats against forces beyond her control…

Breast cancer caused me to make modifications to my life. I’ve made a lot of changes physically, environmentally, emotionally, and lifestyle in general, since being diagnosed. I made these adjustments with the hopes of preventing a recurrence and just living a healthier life. I haven’t gone as far as making my own clothes and churning butter, but some of the changes have altered how my family and I live.  One thing I knew I had to add to my routine was exercise. I knew exercise was imperative to living a healthier life, but I am not a creature of habit. I had tried to commit to exercise several times before in my adult life. Step class, pilates, treadmill, I tried it all. But this time, my life really could depend on it.

When I was in school I hated gym class and was horrible at everything to do with gym. Yes, I was the girl that no one wanted on their team. I was the last to be picked because I was very petite and not athletic in any sense of the word. I’m not an avid swimmer. I doggie paddle but that’s about it. It’s sort of a love/hate relationship between water and me. My sister made me take beginner swim lessons at the local YMCA with her kids. My nephew was in 5th grade, my niece was about 6 years old, and I was in 6th grade. To pass, we had to jump into the pool, do the deadman’s float, and swim in the deep end.  I must have stood at the edge of the pool for a good 5 minutes trying to assure myself it was ok to jump in. It didn’t help that I wore glasses and was all but blind when I didn’t wear them.  I hated water getting in my eyes, or ears, or nose… any orifice on my body. Going underwater was completely out of the question. My sister finally snuck up behind me and pushed me in.  As you might guess, I failed the class.

Despite that, I always wanted to try swim aerobics. It seemed like the perfect thing for me, no substantial sweating, no heavy breathing and painful muscles, but still a workout to qualify as exercise. My breast cancer support group every August has the swim aerobics teacher to do a class with us, so that was the perfect opportunity for me to give it a whirl.

I went to my local breast cancer boutique to pick out a couple suits. I got a pretty one piece with light pink paisleys and black and white stripes, and a swim top with bottoms in neon pink with a pretty design. Both looked nice and fit well… so I thought. I slipped in my foobs and went to class. I get in the pool with my floatie on, feeling good and ready to work up a swim sweat. We started with a warm up in the shallow end, then moved to the deep end. I look down and notice the stupid foobs, still in the suit pockets, had floated out of the top of my suit and almost up to my collarbone. It didn’t help the situation that the flotation belt also moved from my waist to up under my foobs! These big black masses were protruding out of the top of my suit making it obvious that there were no real breasts to be found under the suit. Picture this: You are lying on your back in the water doing crunches, your foobs floating up and out the top of your suit, then noticing you are right in front of the young, male lifeguard. Now, you get the picture! I was so embarrassed and there was nothing I could do but continue on and casually float away.

Upon returning home and doing an inspection of the suit, I determine the pockets for the prothesis are large and made to fit whatever size prothesis you choose. My poor size B foobs had too much space to freely move around and that was not a good thing.  The other suit was the same way. Which this wouldn’t have been a problem if I was just using the suit to lounge on a beach and take the occasional dip in the ocean or pool.  But for exercising, it was definitely a problem.

The couple of weeks I tried holding them down with bobby pins. I think at one point I had three pins on each side. I still had some flotation except now you could also see the pins and one pin even open and poked me all during class.

Next, I did some makeshift hemming to make the pockets smaller (I don’t sew!); nope, didn’t work. I even tried shortening the straps. It still looked like I had a brassiere on and my foobs were going to pop out, hit me in the jaw and float away or sink…I’m not sure really.  I was so frustrated. The only good thing about having the foobs was that they stopped my flotation belt from floating too far up into my armpits. No matter how tight I made the belt, when I would lie back to do some exercises and suck in my gut, it would shift upward and rest right below my foobs.

I finally gave up on those two suits, cut my loses, and bought two new ones.  I got a black one piece that has round, long, silver bead embellishments on the top that makes it look almost Egyptian, the front is higher, almost to my collar bone, the pockets were sewn tighter and because of the high neck style I don’t get any foob floating and I love it! I also bought a black two piece that is a halter-style top with a cute ruffle skort. That one works too but it is more exercise to get the darn thing off when wet than the actual class itself. Plus, the skirt floats up to the surface of the pool and gets in my way. I save that one to wear to the beach. I call it my cute “mom suit”.

Still having only one suit that works, I ordered another one from a site recommended by the ladies in my swim class because the suits are made to last longer and not fade from the chlorine. It is a one piece but the bottom is black and the top has different colored tear drop shapes around the collar to the breast area. I was excited to show this one off. It fit good and I thought it was high enough to avoid the whole “peak-a-boo boob” thing.  I threw it in my bag and headed to the pool.

I put it on and adjusted my foobs to the proper position. Something just didn’t feel right. OMB! There isn’t enough support at the bottom of the pockets and they are, again, bigger pockets so my foobs are drooping almost to my waist! Are you kidding me? I felt like an 80-year-old lady with saggy boobs. I readjusted, stood up nice and tall, then headed to the pool. I put on my swim belt and joined the class.  With the help of the swim belt they stayed somewhat in place. When we headed out to the deep end is when the shift took place once again; my swim belt floated up pushing my foobs up pass the optimal boob location. They stayed in the suit but with the oversized pockets it looked like they were resting below my chin.

At this point, I was just completely frustrated. Who are they designing these suits for?  What woman that wears a size 10 suit would have large foobs big enough to fill these pockets?? I mean, they would have to be wearing a DD set! Once again, I took to the sewing machine, with my 90-year-old mother’s help, to try and make a workaround. I didn’t care what it looked like just that it worked.  I grabbed the material and started sewing. I must have taken in those pockets about an inch on each side. I put it out of the machine and just shook my head.  The seam I just put in was so crooked it was actually diagonal from the bottom left to the top right. I said I don’t sew.  That gene must have skipped a generation. LOL.  I put the foobs in and just laughed. One foob was about an inch higher than the other.  At this point, it was no ripping out the damage I had done. My mom, God bless her, said to leave it with her and she will mess with it when she feels like it.  I went home and ordered yet another bathing suit. And guess what? Same thing, my foobs hang low, at least they don’t wobble two and fro….

But, you know what, it’s all good.  I will proudly float past the lifeguard on my back doing my crunches, frog legs, and pilate legs and smile as I float by. I surrendered to the fact that this is me… floatly foobs, swim belt and all.



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