Quest For Girls

Updated | Published
by Lindsey McGraw Lindsey McGraw

Specializes in Med Sur, LTC. Has 34 years experience.

During a time frame when I was still a relatively young nurse, I encountered a life-altering experience… turning my whole world upside down. Diagnosed with breast cancer in late 1991, a month after graduating from RN school, my whole life changed after a 3-second phone call.

Quest For Girls

a great opportunity for an internship to become an OR nurse had been offered to me, but after this diagnosis, everything was put on hold. A disease that affects 1 in 8 with today's statistics, is a very scary thing.

This article is to "lighten the subject" with my story of my quest for new "girls" after surviving 17 years. Since I have the tenacity of longshore men and a sense of humor, there was no doubt like every other challenge in my life I would turn it into an adventure. Deep down inside I was always shy, putting on a good front for all to see, but an internal emptiness prevailed.

Life brings us messages in many forms ie; dreams, visions, or in my case a new good friend Jackie... a pretty blonde with big blue eyes and a nice smile. Sharing with her my dilemma of never having had reconstruction all these years, which was why on occasion I was so shy around the opposite sex, she gladly shared with me that her "girls" were bought and paid for. An added factor that I had lost a husband who could not cope with the situation, so this made it doubly hard to trust anyone of the male gender, let alone date.

Almost instantaneously it dawned on me that man-made saline implants were definitely an option for me to make me whole once again. A little slogan ran through my mind "What Mother Nature did not give you saline can fix you." My situation was not a case of just wanting to be enhanced, but one of being whole again, and it a big problem purchasing clothing anymore. With the new sexy looks, "girls" abound. With a limited wardrobe of big shirts, sweatshirts, and tank tops with a shirt to cover my vacant right side, I was anything but fashionable.

Determined to not share my secret with anyone yet, I discreetly set up my first appointment which allowed me to stay in my safety zone. Only after I had made a phone call and set up my consultation appointment with a local plastic surgeon, did I tell my best friend? She was shocked, speechless at first, but agreed to accompany me for moral support.

The day of my appointment arrived, and LaVern and I drove to the next town where the clinic was located. Sitting in the parking lot of the office building, she made me promise to behave, and not embarrass any of the staff members with my off-handed comments known to come out of my mouth with little notice. Again this was a facade to hide my underlying feelings of insecurity.

Once inside the clinic, I patiently waited for my name to be called, and became very nervous with anticipation of what the surgeon would tell me about my options, since I had a grueling surgery back in 1991 of a modified radical mastectomy leaving my arm swollen, (suffering from periodic lymphedema) and whole right side deformed. Even with the subtle floral pictures on the wall, my anxious feelings were not at all relieved.

A soft knock on the door, and in walked a young, dark-haired, handsome doctor with kind eyes. He must have sensed my apprehension because was quick to try to put me at ease with some idle chit-chat about careers etc. After he examined me I was delighted when he told me that I was a candidate for an implant, skin expander, that each week a small amount of saline would be added until I reached the desired size to match my remaining girl and to make me whole again. Walking out to the desk after my appointment, he approached me at the desk, placed his arm around me, stated: "it will be just fine." No doubt I was very visibly shaken by this experience and exhilarated at the same time.

As I left that day, a flood of varying emotions came over me. Instantly when I reached my truck, a flurry of phone calls was made to some of my other best friends with an update that I was indeed having this reconstruction surgery to make me whole again in while at the same time having episodes of laughter, and crying.

A whirlwind of activity followed that day with a scheduled surgery date in the next ten days. I managed to do all of the pre-op requirements, and a final appointment with my doctor to answer any further questions my date was set. Showing up at the hospital for my surgery, I had no idea how scared, apprehensive, and mixed my emotions would be. Everything went well, with being able to return home in a matter of a few hours for my recuperation time of two weeks. In a matter of days I began to feel wonderful, exhilarated, and when looking in the mirror seeing a little " perky girl" where a gaping cavern had been for years gave me a real sense of "Whoo Hoo!" A wonderful and exhilarating feeling that is very hard to describe or put into words.

Each week I return to my surgeon to have my implant/skin expander enlarged with a shot of saline to slowly match my good side. Looking in the mirror I have to laugh, because now I have the saggy, perky puppet show going on...because my new implant is high/tight, and of course gravity has set in on my other side. When I have my final phase everything will match up giving me a nice look.

My first shopping trip to buy new clothes and the Maidenform store to purchase new bra's found me almost in a state of panic, because no longer am I limited.....bring on the cleavage, world.

This story of my personal experience in no way should influence how a woman chooses to handle her own situation of having reconstruction or opting to not have this procedure done. Personally, I will forever remain empathetic for anyone who is suffering from, fighting with, or that has conquered this dreadful disease. It is a woman's own mindset, and an example of how one woman handled her mastectomy issue was to go out and buy a Harley motorcycle, driving off into the sunset.

Ladies it is never too late to experience all life can bring you at any age.

So, follow your heart and dreams, living life to the fullest. With a time frame of approximately six weeks, I patiently await my final surgery where I will receive my new "perky, pretty girls" with a totally new outlook on life.

Lindsey McGraw
13 Articles   29 Posts

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7 Comment(s)



Specializes in Med/Surg, ICU, educator. 985 Posts

Your story brought tears to my eyes...A while back, my MD told me that from my initial mammogram, I was probable for CA. I couldn't get scheduled for rework for a month. All I did was cry, thinking about all of the whats, whys and hows....luckily it was nothing, but the thought of losing my girls almost killed me, when normally, I don't even notice them. My husband was supportive, but also admitted he didn't understand why I was so upset. Even though I didn't have to go through, my understanding of what could have been is with you. I hope that you find someone supportive to share all of the great moments with now! Good luck with your girls!

BTW-my aunt, mom, and sister all had theirs done post mastectomy, and say they've never regretted it for a moment...Peace



1 Article; 17 Posts

I am so happy for you, women are so fortunate to have the option of reconstruction now days. I think it's wonderful that you went for it and that you'll get to enjoy the rest of your life with a renewed sense of your beauty inside and out!



Specializes in industrial and hospital nursing. 22 Posts

It was a very wonderful and inspiring story of how you handle your situation. I hope you find the man who will never leave you and will support you all the way. God Bless and goodluck.:wink2:



8 Posts

Your experience is similar to my moms - she too suffers from lymphedema, had to wait to replace her "girl". She's half-way there, affected side is fixed, waiting on the final phase. Her resilliance is amazing.



23 Posts

Great story... its ones like these that really keep young woman optimistic about their futures in these unfortunate circumstances.



1,341 Posts

You go GIRL!!! Carpe Diem !!!!! :)

Reminds me of a Jefferson Starship song!!!

A cookie for who guesses the song ;)

S.Corder, RN

S.Corder, RN

Specializes in Psych/Home health/Med-Surg. 30 Posts

I love your enthusiasm and quest for life. I was recently told I had uterine cancer and am still devastated. My "girls" seem to be fine for now. Your story

is encouraging and uplifting--like your new bras! Enjoy!