Phantom Nipples

Phantom Nipples


My nipples might be missing in action these days, but I will let you in on a secret peeps (‘coz you know, we’re totes close and BFFs share stuff like this): my brain still thinks they’re there.



Tonight’s fun discussion topic, for all you playing at home, is phantom nipples, just because I will bet 20 cents not one of you has ever had an inkling of a thought about them, let alone read a whole blog post dedicated to their existence.

Phantom nipples are a thing people, and I have them.

I guess in much the same way some amputees report having the sensation that their missing limb is still attached, so too I’ve discovered, do nipple-less breast cancer patients.

They get itchy. They get sore. They even get cold! Ever tried to scratch something that isn’t actually there?! It’s a whole new level of frustration!


In fact it’s not just limited to my nipples. I think I have phantom boobs. While the real things are long gone now, (Long gone to where, I have no idea. Where do all the unwanted boobs go? Where do all the amputated limbs go? These are the things keeping me awake at night, guys. The big questions!) I still frequently experience stabbing pains and weird sensations. I think it’s all related to the nerves and nerve-endings damaged during surgery sending wacky messages to my brain.

My surgery scars continue to be a source of mild astonishment for me too. Most glimpses in the mirror leave me thinking, Whoa…nipple-less freakish looking mounds, where did you come from? You’d think that after six weeks of seeing the scar-lines I’d get used to them. So far it’s still a little tough to take. I’m sure with time this will lessen.

At present all I see are the scars. I have nine now. It’s most impressive. Two seven centimetre horizontal lines where my nipples used to be, a similar sized one in my armpit, from my axilla clearance (all lymph nodes in my armpit were removed during mastectomy surgery too, as the cancer had spread beyond the breast). I also have five small round scars on both sides of my torso from drain tubes that helped my body get rid of fluid post-surgery, and a 2 cm scar and circular lump on my left upper arm where my port-a-cath is located!

Are scars cool? Even on a 37 year-old mother of three whose ideas of fun are cracking cryptic crosswords and playing online Scrabble?

Anyone want to comment – or better still, compare scars? I’m sure someone out there has something way more impressive than a couple of phantom nipples and a port-a-cath!

Go on – drop me a line. Let me hear your battle stories as I sit in the chemo day ward for five hours tomorrow!

Kate x

13 thoughts on “Phantom Nipples

  1. Not that my scar remotely compares to yours but… I have a huge one on my left arm from when I smashed a glass door when I was 11. Pretty much Jane and I were in the throes of a preadolescent argument and I stormed off, pushed the door too hard and wound up in the ER 🙂 Good times

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Sounds impressive, G! Good story too. Love a good ‘unintentional door smash’! Jay did the same to a massive glass door when he was a kid – but with his foot. Fortunately he was wearing a shoe, so don’t think it required a trip to the ER! Good to see Lao People’s Democratic Republic is now on my blog readership! Thank you kindly 🙂 Hope you’re enjoying your trip! xx


  2. Scars? You outcounted me with the first of the two nipple versions, so no competition there. Unfortunately talk of a lousy C-section scar won’t cut it in contributing much to your chemo day tomorrow (would the forehead scar from the grade 5 pea (stone) shooter be any use?). I know I’m scared with you and yet haven’t been there with you, so how could it be? I think we each have our world for scary things, but lucky for most of us, they can stay in a cupboard for the best part. Then, some of the best people have to face the demons and tackle them straight on. There is no other way. Your recount of events, pre-empting of the next are the reality for you. As others have said, we are all very privileged to be able to read and feel part of your story.
    So, the unknown of your hair is scary too. It looks a full head for pre-prep photos, and I hope it stays that way. BUT, if mange appears and the clippers come out, I know who will be the next best looking chick without hair, no question about it.
    Extra thoughts will be heading your way for the 5-hour recliner session tomorrow, and then that the anti-all side effects drugs do their deal. xx Robyn

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I forgot to include my C-section scar too, Robyn! So that’s 10 I have now! Double figures! Thanks for your lovely message. And thanks for following my blog and reading about my journey. It really helps knowing I have people on the sidelines cheering me on. Hope you see you soon. xx


      1. Your an inspiration miss Harcourt. Inspiring wife, mother and friend. I ❤️ your blog. Thank you for sharing x


      2. wow-10 scars. Its a sort of comforting number-even, rounded and full.
        The brain is extraordinary and I am sure you will use its power for good -you will soon have convinced it that there are no nipples there.
        Thinking of you today -2 down and less to go each time. Hope your anti-nausea power drugs do their thing !
        What you write Kate is fascinating, and I am so grateful for your openness and honesty. I am learning so much, and rest assured there are many of us zooming vibes in your direction, Catriona


      3. Thank you Catriona for your steadfast support of me, my stories and our little family. We feel so fortunate to have neighbours like you. The nausea is again, pretty nasty. I’m trying to sleep it off at present. Hope to catch you in the street again soon when it passes.
        Kate xx


  3. I’ve just read your Blog from first post to last Kate. I’ve cried and laughed, been entertained, informed, utterly astonished at your wit and wisdom without a shred of self pity. Wow!
    So… please, can I make a claim to having been your English teacher a long, long time ago? Did anything in those long hours in a hot classroom in the middle of summer help even one incy-wincy bit to produce such amazing writing from a superb young woman? I’m loving your Blog…hating what you’re going through…absolutely believing in the happy ending. Nxx


    1. Dear Nelwyn, thank you so much for reading all my posts and for your very lovely comments. My enthusiasm for all things English was definitely piqued back in those classrooms of the L-building in 1990, so you have undoubtedly played a big part in fostering my love of writing! Right now it is helping me get through this tough time, enabling me to understand my feelings more clearly and communicate them to those close to me. I wish it were under different circumstances, but I’m so thankful to have people following my journey and showing their support from the sidelines. Much love to you and Neville, and I’d love to catch up with you properly one day soon.
      Kate xxx


  4. No scars- but you know I broke my toe in grade 3. I was totally stoked that it got me out of bush dancing with Tom (he had warts on his hands)


  5. I have 2 large scars; one on the boob and the other in the armpit. I have to say the armpit hurts a hell of a lot more than the boob. Speaking of nipples, I was hoping my nipple would go back to normal after my lumpectomy but no luck. It still looks like a crushed top of a water bottle. Come back to normal. Come back to mama!


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