Flat is Fabulous - Stand Tall Aesthetic Flat Closure by VPA Athlete @tracycrushescancer
This October I decided to become an ambassador for Stand Tall Aesthetic Flat Closure, and last Sunday I led a team of brave flatties at the Making Strides Against Breast Cancer walk in Denver. To be clear, we are not making strides against breast cancer. 1 in 8 women in the US will be diagnosed in her lifetime, and of those, 1 in THREE will go on to develop metastatic breast cancer and die from it. 1 in 3. That's where I live now....wondering if I will be the one. This hasn't changed appreciably in the 20 years since I graduated medical school - we are living longer after earlier diagnosis, and yes the 5 year survival looks great compared to some other cancers. But when you're diagnosed in your 20's, 30's or 40's with cancer, just five more years doesn't seem like a lot. And even though many of us will live those 5 years, many of us will still die decades later from breast cancer (see Suzanne Somers, obituary).
Sobering, stressful, scary - these numbers are hard to ignore, and hard to escape. But in the meantime, I can at least advocate for body positivity after surgery, to avoid the pressure to get reconstruction, and to show other early stage patients that remaining flat is a beautiful choice. I don't begrudge anyone their implants, flaps, expanders, or multiple surgeries - but that was never going to be the plan for me.
2 years later I have zero regrets about going flat. About removing a healthy breast for symmetry. About not "saving extra skin" for reconstruction later. I love not thinking about wearing a bra...ever. I am so grateful I had no complications, and I didn't have to put my body through the stress of multiple surgeries. But I got push back from my surgical team, also known as "flat denial", and multiple people tried to convince me I'd regret my choice. I do not.
A woman spotted our signs and our group Sunday, and she made her Mom come say hi. Her mom had been flat for years, and never once felt proud or confident in her body. She saw us, and she cried. We had flattie hugs. Several other women saw us, and nodded or fist bumped or cried out "You're so brave."
I wish it didn't require "bravery" to be comfortable in your own skin. I wish these women felt whole, confident, and beautiful with their scars. I feel so grateful to show them they can. Thank you to all of the brave flatties who shared their photos with me before surgery so I could feel confident in my choice, and to all the women who walk topless and scarred and proud. I'm proud to call myself a flattie.
Tracy Crushes Cancer
My journey with lobular breast cancer, stage IIB. 47 year old mom, wife, vegan, and 5x ironman.