How to Respond to the "Which Tit Was It?" Visual Inspection?

Hi All

When I returned to work in January I had a few occasions when it was obvious that the person I was speaking to had assumed that I had had a mastectomy and was staring at my chest and trying to work out which side I had had the cancer on. I dealt with this by being quite open about the surgery I had actually had (lumpectomy combined with breast lift/reduction). That worked really well with my colleagues and all the speculative looks stopped quite rapidly.

But today I was quite taken aback when I visited a client’s offices and met someone I hadn’t seen since before my BC surgery, and was subjected to the same visual inspection of my boobs - and not even very subtly!

Have any of you suffered this reaction - I’m sure it must happen to loads of us - and how have you handled it? I would have loved to say something, but couldn’t think of the right words quickly enough.

Sarah x

I’ve seen most people sneek a peek trying not to be obvious about it.
It’s made me feel scrutinised to be honest and uncomfortable.

Although I do have to admit that I’d probably try and look on the sly too, I think it’s natural curiosity. It’s just upsetting when its happening to you! I’ve not said anything to anybody about it because I’ve thought I’d probably do it myself (guilty smile)

YES!! So glad someone has asked this. It’s bothered me for ages.
When first DX, my area manager came to see me, and spoke to my chest for quite a while. I only ever said to OH about it.
I’ve had it on the rare occasion that i’ve told anyone, and now never tell anyone, partly because of that.
To me it’s private. It’s part of my medical records and to me it’s confidential.

I haven’t had surgery, but have played ‘guess the bap!’

I just told people and it was never an issue for me or for them. not sure why it didn’t bother me but it just didn’t

This is something that happened to me about two weeks ago and would seem to be the right place to share from the thread’s title. I posted it under starting chemo in May.

I am bored, Bored, BORED with cancer. I want to be able to start a conversation with someone that doesn’t begin with, “How are you?” while they try and look (a) interested and (b) put on their empathetic, “I understand how you must be feeling” face. The men who ask me that question are at least amusing because you can see them trying to work out which one of my breasts has been mangled. I actually caught one of them staring at my chest so openly while supposedly talkng to my face that I thrust out my chest and said, “The surgeon did such a great job you can’t tell, can you?” I pointed to the one which was affected and he actually started to reach across to touch it, whereupon his wife shouted his name and grabbed his hand. Best moment I had all weekend

excellent, its on a par with the hair loss starers - once I figured out that it was their problem i couldn’t give a damn. Caught one older lady staring at me with my bald head and cap on in supermarket car park. I rolled down the window and said to her ‘yeah I’m bald, having chemotherapy, OK?’. she was mortified, but hopefully won’t be so ignorant with anyone else.

Cherryorchard, I read that story before and fell over laughing, and even though I knew what was coming I again found myself rolling on the floor!

The only time I’ve deliberately played “guess the boob” was when another forum member asked me if I could tell which one. I couldn’t (obviously).

I certainly haven’t done it knowingly but I suspect I may have been guilty of looking chestwards. So to those I have met, if I have, I apologise if I’ve caused offense.

Daisyleaf, I’m with you. wore wig so others weren’t embarrassed now don’t give a damm take me as you find me is the place i’m at. only wear wiggy when i’m cold. Chris x

One thought I did have was to buy a pair of those false strap on rubber boobs that featured in one TV episode of Black Adder, wear them under a coat or jumper, then if I attend a meeting with someone I’ve not seen since my surgery I could just whip the coat/jumper off and ask “what do you think of the finished result?”

Sarah x

That would be priceless!
Dx

Any more ideas from anyone? I liked Cherryorchard’s suggestion of saying “The surgeon did such a great job you can’t tell, can you?” as a polite way of pointing out that they’ve been caught staring!

I can’t say I’ve ever had a problem. I’ve never noticed anyone staring. When I went back to work after my recon, nearly everyone spoke openly to me, telling me how great it looked. I don’t know if it was because I was very open myself and told everyone why I was having time off before I went on sick leave but I was never made to feel uncomfortable.

I actually considered making myself a pointy arrow badge that said ‘it was this one - now just get over it!’

I know what you mean about the ‘how are you…?!’ sympathetic tone / tilted head - TALK TO ME ABOUT SOMETHING ELSE!!!

I’m like daisyleaf it’s not bothered me to much, maybe as I can be wicked back to certain comments. Just after mx I popped into work and the questions flowed and looks so I whipped my top up and flashed my scar, there where a lot of dropped jaws, also I have if someone stares too much trying to work out which boob is what, pull out my softy and said I feel a right tit, even if it’s the left!!!
But as my 4 yr old granddaughter introduces me as " this is my nanny she only has one boob and wears a comfy cushion" you can’t become to worried about the reaction I get .

I didnt have the type of boobs to get stared at b4 MX and I cant say that I have noticed any looks now…

Nor did I have the type of boobs that caused stares (and once you’re past 50 you become invisible to many people anyway) I think it’s just natural curiosity when they know you’ve had breast surgery. I just wish people would be a bit more subtle about it.

The idea of a badge with an arrow is worth considering…

I get it out!

In the garden, in the passenger seat of the car, in the kitchen, down the path, in the staffroom.

  • tend to find they don’t look again!

x

Hmmmm. Tempting. But I work in a large open plan office full of engineers, 98% of them male, so that could be a quick route to a number of heart attacks (for them) and a P45 (for me)!

Yeah, I get in first. I offer to show people the biposy bruises and post surgery will show them the scars etc.
While I was waiting for results my senior manager did glance at my chest and then said “oh I have heard about your little problem”, but I had to laugh as he looked so awkward and expected me to burst into tears.
My biggest issue are people doing the “looking up my nose” tilted head chat and talking to me as if I am simple.
But I would rather people spoke to me, then walking past me looking at the ground, I find that really hard to deal with.

not long after my MX i was in asda and saw a friend with her hubby who had just had surgery on his shoulder… he proudly showed me his scar, I declined to show mine… would have just not in asda!