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Black Patient; Jefferson Health Breast Cancer Surgeon's Joke About Me Losing My Nipple During Lumpectomy Surgery

Here I will share some of the humiliating things Black patients in America have to deal with from Non-Black medical professionals

By IwriteMywrongsPublished 19 days ago 5 min read

Friday, 17 November 2023

By: TB Obwoge

I was 46-years old, when I found out that I had breast cancer. It was one of the scariest days of my life. I didn't have much of a support system, my family is large and splintered. They're a bunch of strangers that share some of the same DNA as I do, a lot of them don't share the same feelings about life's issues either.

Before surgery they write ‘Yes’ on the breast that you’re having surgery on, it if is to be removed or what not, they want to mark the correct one. Prior to the first lumpectomy, I was told I would more than likely lose my nipple in the process. The surgeon at The Women’s Center, was highly recommended, when I was told about losing my nipple I asked a few questions.

The first question was were there any side effects from losing a nipple, maybe it was a dumb question yet it is an opening, I just thought is this going to be ok. Dr. J made a joke, she replied “You’ll never be able to breast feed again!” She laughed, the student in the room half assed laughed but not really, I didn’t laugh at all.

Her female student also looked very uncomfortable, I looked to her because I was shocked hearing these words come from this doctor's mouth. The staff was even cocky about her, like Google her.

No, really they said that I should Google her, not one article or comment from women losing a breast or a nipple hearing a shitty joke. But here I was scared and basically alone in life, I was the one to hear this joke.

I c an't seem to get her face out of my mind, her stupid annoying laughter too. Sadly I don't think I'll ever be able to do so.

I've had multiple medical issues, residing in an African country and was dating a man that's over 9 years my junior. My previous ex was a soldier in the Ghana Army. He was beyond physically fit, more than 10 years younger than myself. He, the soldier was someone I loved more than life itself, he was kind, loving, never took or ask a thing of me, even after we broke up he never called me a bad name.

I know I’m overweight, more than average overweight too, I’m not bashing myself at all my size is a huge issue for me. I’ve been made fun of openly especially living in African countries never had that happen in America, I guess since it is home to so many overweight adults.

The loss of my nipple was yet another devastating turn on the road to growing older as well as not liking my body image. Mind you I had lost a significant amount of weight but being back in the states where I’m even more unhappy, depressed and food well….I gained it all back while getting treatment.

When I went for a follow-up appointment, after radiation treatments left me raw, with all the skin under my breast falling or fallen off, I decided to tell my surgeon how her joke hurt me. I started by reminding her of her joke, she looked at me blankly, blinking her eyes.

I pulled out my cellphone to show her pictures of the 28 year old Ghanian soldier, as I slide from photo to photo, I ended it with him standing in a pool shirtless. I explained that this was one of the men I was with, I pointed to my caped covered body and said I know I’ve not taken the best care of myself.

I continued..I’m not the prettiest woman in the room, or the slimmest. I am very fat, I know it, you know it, there is no sugar coating it, your joke was cruel and tasteless.


It took me a week after the first surgery to look at my breast without the nipple being there, this is another flaw on my body. She corrected me by saying it wasn’t a flaw, she said she didn’t remember the joke, was sorry, she wasn’t aware that at now 47 years old that I would be trying to have more children.

Wait, I said I’m not doing anything to try to stop it but it wasn’t about having more children, it is about being born with my nipple, now it is gone, you made a joke that was not funny. The person I love dearly is a man, an African man, that really didn’t imagine being with someone much older, now with one less nipple. It just was inappropriate.

She never got it, she ignored all my articulately laid out examples of how her joke was crude, misplaced and hurtful. Dr. J almost seemed annoyed that I had even said anything to her about it, she was trying to end the appointment, back out of the room and refuse to take any personal responsibility for her crude joke.

Every damn day I walk by the mirror to get into the shower, every damn day if I brush my teeth shirtless I see this horrific butcher job she did not once but twice on my breast and I hate myself more & more.

For the poor life choices of becoming so fat in the first place, for having breast cancer when they all kept saying I was too young, no family history, maybe the weight played a part in it. This is what I hear echoing in my ears daily, not to mention an ex-lover that insults me so much, whenever he manages to get through to me, insults me.

Would she have made this joke if I were white, maybe, who knows she seems careless and reckless even after telling her she had zero remorse or culpability for her words. What an asshole!

To this day many people don't believe she said this to me because she's such a "kind & good surgeon" but to me she was just insulting and typical from what I'm used to in the United States.

Thank you for reading 🙏🏽 Please consider buying a coffee for Lacey’s House efforts in Gender Equality & Children’s Rights as it tries to move international.

©️TB Obwoge 2023 All Rights Reserved

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About the Creator


I'm the president of a nonprofit. I've lived in 3 countries, I love to travel, take photos and help children and women around the world! One day I pray an end to Child Marriages, Rape and a start to equal Education for ALL children 🙏🏽

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