When I got home, I put on my new titty and bra and promptly
broke into tears. The titty reminded me of raw liver, while the bra resembled
the suspension system of my 1995 Volvo.
Beryl Tsang, http://knitty.com/ISSUEfall05/PATTbits.html



Once again, I'm giving the lie to my statement that
I'm not here to talk about my boobs.


Backstory

I've just recently gotten enough energy back, after going through cancer treatment, to start doing art and craft projects again. I started knitting before Christmas, because several people had requested scarves, and I'd far rather give a handmade gift than buy stuff. Of course, yarn shopping I saw some very nifty sock yarn, and figured it was time to learn how to turn a heel.

After finishing several pairs of socks, I decided to hunt for a bigger project, and surfed around looking at knitting patterns and blogs. (I'm always impressed with how graphically bad web pages can be, as well as good. They range from unreadable to gorgeous...but I wander.) I ran across a quite lovely online mag called knitty, and started poking around in the patterns.

Imagine my surprise when I found the picture of tit bits. Hot pink knitted tits with a little flower button for a nipple. Fantastic! I visited the home page of the woman who created the pattern, and who sells these, custom made. She makes several different styles, ranging from realistic to fun to naughty - stripes, metallic thread, and you can even have a pierced nipple, if you choose.

Of course I had to knit one. I knit the pieces, and I had to experiment a bit to get the size right - to match my own, of course. I was so excited I dreamt about it, and got up before the rest of the household to work on it early in the morning.




Exploding a cancer myth

You might, beloved reader, be wondering, "So what?" I'm getting there, albeit slowly.

There are many things that are awful about having breast cancer, not the least of which is that modern prosthetics are ugly, heavy, and uncomfortable. Unless you are very small-breasted, the weight of the prosthetic pulls on your shoulder (rather than on your chest wall, as a real breast does), and it can lead to back and shoulder problems. And the author is right - the brassieres do resemble suspension systems rather than something pretty that I want to wear next to my skin. These knitted ones are fun, and damn, haven't we been through enough after surgery and chemotherapy and radiation that we deserve something fun? Not only fun, but dare I say it, sexy? The tit bits also expose a popular breast cancer myth in a lovely way.

Having breast cancer is an embarassment and we should hide it.

This shows up obliquely in lots of cancer literature, as well as places like the National Cancer Society. They offer free makeup sessions so you can "look your best" during treatment. May I gag now? Okay, yes, I can see the use of some makeup tips, if hair loss and your appearance are important. My experience, however, was the exact opposite. My skin was really sensitive, so I didn't want to wear any makeup. During radiation, I looked pretty good, but felt like death warmed over. I was tempted to use makeup to make my complexion more greenish and paint black bags under my eyes, like Amy Sedaris, so I would look as shitty as I felt.

In addition, the typical post-mastectomy bra and prosthetic have a clear message - Your bod is no longer sexy, babe. No lace, no pretty colors, no cleavage, certainly. You have gone from fun to functional. Preferably also well-hidden, just like that Volvo suspension.

Also, I think this is an indirect way to gag women. Don't talk about your breasts unless they are the societally approved version, and God forbid you should talk about having one cut off. Not only do I think this is dishonest, I think it's dangerous. Here's why.

Breast cancer occurrence is now up to 1 in 7, up from 1 in 11 in 2000. As in, 1 in 7 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime. To make this real, there are now 70 ninjagirls. Nine more, besides me, will probably be diagnosed with breast cancer before we all kick off from heart disease. Ten of us. This breaks my heart.

Of those new occurences, 1 in 4 ( 1 in 4! 25%! ) new cases are found in women 40 or younger . For all you 25 years olds, the foundation Boarding for Breast Cancer was founded not long after a young snowboarder died from breast cancer at age 28.

Third statistic - 160,000 women who are diagnosed with breast cancer every year....and 40,000 die. Flat chance of breast cancer killing you, if you are diagnosed? 1 in 4, again.

With that said, if there was a disease that required that guys have half of their penis and one testicle removed, would we be talking detection instead of prevention? Doyle covered this topic really well in The One-Boobed Systyrs of the Apocalypse, so I won't repeat it here, but foundations that talk about early detection frankly set my teeth on edge. What, I have to ask, is it going to take? Waiting until every woman gets it, before we start looking at prevention, rather than detection? Put every woman through treatment which is frankly medieval in its barbarity? Please, no.

Knit your tits

Tit bits inspire me, just like the toughtitties shirts do, because they don't hide breast cancer . My new knitted titty is currently sitting on the coffee table - not that we need a "conversation piece" about this particular topic. My fervent hope is that by talking about breast cancer and writing about it, we can question the way cancer is viewed by society.

In the mean time, I'm working up my courage to get dressed up, and wear some shocking purple lacy bra, with cleavage down to here, and on the left is a reg'lar breast, and the right, a matching shocking purple breast. It's going to take a little chutzpah, but I'm getting there. Now, back to my knitting.

knitty - www.knitty.com
tit bits - http://www.titbits.ca/
Boarding for Breast Cancer - www.b4bc.org
Young Survival Coalition: Young Women United Against Breast Cancer - www.youngsurvival.org







@wertperch says re tit bits: It redefines what is sexy. Is one breast less sexy than two, or a fun woollen boob a distraction? I still find you sexy...

BrooksMarlin I've always had a thing for girls with oddly colored hair. I wonder how I would react to purple boobs
La petite mort "you have lost a breast so therefore you are not a sexy vibrante woman and bugger how hot people think those amazons are. So you can wear Granma bras."
(bravo! Fabulous 1 sentence summary!)
BrooksMarlin says It doesn't suprise me grundy, especially when you think about how few women are "allowed" to be sexy in the first place, much less a one-boobed systyr.
BrooksMarlin says So what I'm trying to say is, when you bust out the brightly colored cleavage, you should throw us a pic or two.

As a practical aside, I have an alternate suggestion for the tit bit filling.

My mother didn't know how to knit, but after her mastectomy she knew that the silicone breast prostheses she'd been offered were creepy-feeling, uncomfortable, and expensive. She soon hit upon an inexpensive, biodegradable, customizable alternative: a kneehigh stocking filled with birdseed (specifically small, round seeds like millet, or at least anything that's smaller and less pointy than sunflower seeds) and tied off.

The birdseed is light but has enough heft to stay put and conforms to the shape of your body and the bra you put it in. You'll have to change it every so often (particularly if you work up a sweat or get caught in the rain -- you'll sprout!) but disposal is dead easy: feed it to the birds. They won't mind if it's got a little tittie sweat on it.

Feeding the birds isn't necessarily sexy -- though it could be I expect -- but it is certainly life-affirming.

As with any plant substance, it's possible some women could have allergic reactions to the seeds and develop irritation or rashes. If that happens, you should discontinue use of the seed and try small glass or nylon beads (or simply resort to the standard tit bit stuffing of cotton fleece or poly fiberfill).

 

wertperch says This gives the added advantage that, like a real breast, one can feed from it.

... why are you looking at me like that?

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