I Had Breast Cancer and All I Got Were These New Implants

The first anniversary of my second-stage reconstruction and augmentation was December 1st. Because I’m taking part in a 10-year study for silicone implants, I had a required follow-up visit with my plastic surgeon on Friday. The conversation was one you can never imagine having until you’ve been there–in addition to an overall progress report, we ended up chatting about how the girls line up (pretty darn well). I had to rate my overall satisfaction with the results and was able to truthfully say I am “definitely” pleased on the “definitely” to “not at all” scale of the form he had to fill out. I could tell he was pleased too, and he’s a perfectionist (a great quality for a plastic surgeon to have). He said my overall results were excellent.

As part of the study, I have to fill out a questionnaire for each breast. And I get paid for it–$20 for the augmented one, and $100 for the follow-up visit and longer questionnaire for the mastectomy one.

I’m not sure how helpful my answers will be. Both questionnaires use a “Disagree strongly” to “Agree strongly” or 1 to 4 scale, and I always wish they were essay questions. It’s really hard to assign a numerical value to something like how attractive you feel. Does 3 mean I think I hold my own with the over-50 crowd but I’m no Michelle Pfeiffer? Does 2 mean I lack self-esteem?

Some of the questions/statements (“I feel worthless”) are clearly gauging mental health. Others border on trippy. I did the short questionnaire over the phone and may have tested the interviewer’s patience. At one point, she said,“Thinking about your breasts, how confident are you in social situations?” I replied, “I usually don’t think about my breasts in social situations.” I think I finally landed on 3 to mean “I’m not sure my breasts affect my confidence.” It reminded me of an old Saturday Night Live sketch. Gilda Radner was Annette Funicello in one of those 1960s beach movies, and introduced herself by saying,”Hi, I’m Annette and these are my breasts.”

I’m sure whoever designed the study knew what they were doing. But I still wish they were essay questions.


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