Printer Friendly
The Free Library
22,741,889 articles and books

Real lives: `I chose life over my 40DD breasts' Meet the former Playboy bunny who had both breasts removed to protect her from cancer, and her daughter, who hopes to do the same.

Byline: Text by Tracie Bunce n. 1. a sudden unexpected piece of good fortune.

Noun 1. bunce - a sudden happening that brings good fortune (as a sudden opportunity to make money); "the demand for testing has created a boom for those unregulated laboratories where boxes of

Jenny Pitcairn-Hill, 53, has four children and works as an administrative assistant. She lives in Crawley, West Sussex West Sussex, nonmetropolitan county (1991 pop. 692,800), 768 sq mi (1,990 sq km), S England. A chalk ridge runs from the county's east to west edge. In the south the land flattens into a gentle plain. After early Roman invasions, the Saxons moved across Sussex. .

`I had always had big boobs, 40DD. In fact, they even got me a job as a bunny girl at London's famous Playboy club The Playboy Clubs were a chain of nightclubs owned and operated by Playboy Enterprises until 1991 with the first club opening at 116 E. Walton in downtown Chicago on February 29, 1960. . I loved the attention they brought me. They made me feel sexy.

`Previously, I was a nurse. On my way to work one day I saw an ad in the local paper for a "bunny hunt" at the Playboy Bunny A Playboy Bunny was a waitress at the Playboy Clubs (open 1960–1988). They wore a costume called a bunny suit inspired by the tuxedo-wearing Playboy rabbit mascot, consisting of a corset, bunny ears, a collar, cuffs, and a fluffy cottontail.  Club in Park Lane. I had to compete with hundreds of gorgeous girls to get the job. It was all about whether you were a good "people person" and, of course, went in and out in all the right places.

`At 21 I was "old" for a bunny, but I made the most of it. When I walked up this glass staircase that overlooked the road, car horns would toot and blokes' jaws would drop to the floor!

`I was still working as a bunny when Mum died. She was in her early forties when she discovered a lump - the breast cancer that eventually killed her. Knowing Mum, she would have waited to see a doctor because she "didn't want to make a fuss".

`After the lump tested cancerous, she had a breast removed. I remember thinking, "Well that's that then. We can all get on with our lives."

`Though I knew my grandmother had died of breast cancer, I thought the disease was random. At 24 I quit being a bunny, got married and had kids. For a few years life went on as normal, but then Mum said, "It's come back." By then the cancer was too advanced for surgery and it had spread to her bones. I remember thinking, "Why didn't you have both breasts removed when you first got cancer? Then you wouldn't be dying now."

`Around the same time, my Dad, Thomas, was battling lung cancer lung cancer, cancer that originates in the tissues of the lungs. Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death in the United States in both men and women. Like other cancers, lung cancer occurs after repeated insults to the genetic material of the cell. . He died 19 years ago on Mum's birthday and I was inconsolable. `Mum moved in with me and the children and I cared for her, along with 24-hour cancer nurses. She became very frail and died in her late forties, a few months after Dad.

`Four years later I was still on antidepressants Antidepressants
Medications prescribed to relieve major depression. Classes of antidepressants include selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (fluoxetine/Prozac, sertraline/Zoloft), tricyclics (amitriptyline/ Elavil), MAOIs (phenelzine/Nardil), and heterocyclics
 when doctors and specialists told me I had a one-in-three chance of getting breast cancer. It hit me like a ton of bricks. "I'm going to go the same way as Mum and her mum," I cried to my husband.

`I started having mammograms twice a year and I checked my breasts for lumps almost obsessively ob·ses·sive  
1. Of, relating to, characteristic of, or causing an obsession: obsessive gambling.

2. Excessive in degree or nature: an obsessive need to win.
 - when I got dressed, in the bath, everywhere.

`The breasts I had been so proud of were now a time bomb. I had long since stopped viewing them as sexual objects. Instead, I was afraid of them. I got my first lump at 35 - I'd known it was only a matter of time.

That day I had been moving chairs around and accidentally bashed my chest. I was checking for bruises Bruises Definition

Bruises, or ecchymoses, are a discoloration and tenderness of the skin or mucous membranes due to the leakage of blood from an injured blood vessel into the tissues. Pupura refers to bruising as the result of a disease condition.
 when I felt it in my right breast.

`Within 24 hours I had seen a consultant and had a biopsy. The lump was sent away for tests, but I didn't need the results, I just knew. I thought, "I'm going to die. How will I tell my children? I don't want to leave them all alone."

`I told my eldest daughter, Sula, then 11, that I had cancer. She asked lots of questions: "Will you have to go into hospital?", "Will you die?" Kids are so matter of fact, which made it harder.

`For three torturous weeks I kept manically busy, and started preparing the children for when I was gone; I even made a will. Only Sula knew what was happening as the others were too young to understand. My husband and I had split up a year earlier but Sula was fantastic, a rock.

`When I went to see the consultant, he casually said: "It's all right," when all I'd been able to think was, "I will never see my daughters looking beautiful on their wedding day or know my grandchildren GRANDCHILDREN, domestic relations. The children of one's children. Sometimes these may claim bequests given in a will to children, though in general they can make no such claim. 6 Co. 16. ."

`During my forties I found eight lumps - all benign. Each time, the anxiety was awful. We'd try to carry on as normal but it was impossible.

`In 1996, during a routine visit to the consultant, I was given an opportunity to remove the fear of breast cancer for ever by having both breasts removed. I didn't have to think twice.

`When I came round from the operation I was swathed in a huge bandage bandage /ban·dage/ (ban´daj)
1. a strip or roll of gauze or other material for wrapping or binding a body part.

2. to cover by wrapping with such material.
 and I couldn't move my arms. But all I felt was immense relief.

`I turned down reconstructive surgery reconstructive surgery
Plastic surgery.

reconstructive surgery,
n surgery to rebuild a structure for functional or esthetic reasons.
 - I don't feel less of a woman being flat as a pancake The introduction to this article provides insufficient context for those unfamiliar with the subject matter.
Please help [ improve the introduction] to meet Wikipedia's layout standards. You can discuss the issue on the talk page.
 than with bunny-girl boobs.

`It's still possible to get cancer in the tiny amount of breast tissue I have left, but the chances are minimal.

`The operation was four years ago and I don't regret it for a minute. I worry about Sula and my youngest daughter, Janine. Sula's desperate to have her breasts removed and I support her 100%. I would love nothing more than for her to have peace of mind.'

Sula, 27: `Mum confided in me when she found her first lump. I was only 11 and very scared. Because Mum had no partner at the time to talk through her worries with, we became even closer.

`I remember Mum being so practical, making arrangements for us to be cared for. Every time she found a lump, I'd think, "This time she's going to die." I hated it.

`As my breasts grew, I hated them. Big boobs run in my family and I had a good pair by the age of 13. I enjoyed them when I was older because of the attention, but my nan and great grandmother dying of breast cancer was always at the back of my mind.

`When I was nine, Nan came to live with us, but I was never allowed to see her. One day she asked to see me - she must have been close to the end and looked like a ghost. I remember Mum being very weepy and a depressing mood hanging over the house.

`I became terrified ter·ri·fy  
tr.v. ter·ri·fied, ter·ri·fy·ing, ter·ri·fies
1. To fill with terror; make deeply afraid. See Synonyms at frighten.

2. To menace or threaten; intimidate.
 of losing Mum too - even when she wasn't having tests on a lump or waiting for results.

`One day Mum said, "I've decided to have a double mastectomy mastectomy (măstĕk`təmē), surgical removal of breast tissue, usually done as treatment for breast cancer. There are many types of mastectomy. In general, the farther the cancer has spread, the more tissue is taken.  to put an end to to destroy.
- Fuller.

See also: End
 all this worry." I was shocked at first, because I didn't want her to have an operation, but happy because we could be a normal family again.

`Even lying there in hospital, it was as if a huge weight had been lifted from her. She was happy and easier to be around, so life improved for us all.

`I was 23 with a little girl, Lara, aged four, and pregnant with my second daughter, Sheridan, when I realised that if I got breast cancer my little girls would be left without a mum. I took a gene test and I've got a one- in-three chance of getting it - that's terrifying ter·ri·fy  
tr.v. ter·ri·fied, ter·ri·fy·ing, ter·ri·fies
1. To fill with terror; make deeply afraid. See Synonyms at frighten.

2. To menace or threaten; intimidate.

`I decided I wanted a double mastectomy and Mum thought it was the right decision. But I also wanted reconstructive surgery, as, unlike Mum, I wanted to look the same afterwards af·ter·ward   also af·ter·wards
At a later time; subsequently.

afterwards or afterward

later [Old English æfterweard]

Adv. 1.

`My then partner was horrified hor·ri·fy  
tr.v. hor·ri·fied, hor·ri·fy·ing, hor·ri·fies
1. To cause to feel horror. See Synonyms at dismay.

2. To cause unpleasant surprise to; shock.
 at first. He was worried about how I would cope emotionally and though he never said it, I'm sure he was anxious about whether he would still fancy me.

`But the consultant was adamant. "I'm not happy about carrying out this operation on a woman of your age," he said. "If you feel the same way, come back when you're 30." Several years on, I do feel the same.

`I fear for my little girls and worry that they'll have to live with the terror of getting cancer, just like Mum and I. But medicine and science advances all the time and I hope that when they grow up, there will be a cure.'


Photograph by Gemma Day
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2001 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

 Reader Opinion




Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Title Annotation:Features
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:May 12, 2001
Previous Article:Win pounds 500 to spend on top fashion; How would you like a big wad of vouchers to spend on a great summer fashion makeover? Thought so. We've got...
Next Article:Beauty: Freebie file.

Related Articles
SPOT THE BUNNY; Well actually, they ALL are, and one is now a would-be MP.
Real Lives: `My mum, aunt and I all survived breast cancer' Over the past six years, Pat Lavery, her sister Christine and daughter Helen have all...

Terms of use | Copyright © 2014 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters