So many anniversaries lately. So many at this time last year, I was doing X, remember?
Today is yet another date that still stands out to me. October 19th. One year since I bid adieu to my breasts. One year since the cancer treatment really began.
There hasn’t been one day since then that I don’t think about my breasts. The current ones, the old ones, the cancer. Breast breasts breasts. My whole life, centered around some hanging, bouncy (albeit, no longer bouncy) body parts. Impossible to escape, especially now, during the month of October, BREAST CANCER AWARENESS MONTH (or have you not noticed?).
I think about breasts every time I stretch my left arm to turn off my lamp beside my bed, when I feel the uncomfortable pull and remember that my arm does not move the way that it used to.
I think about breasts when I realize that none of my fancy dresses fit my body anymore because of the firm side-boob implant I have that prevents the left-side zipper from zipping.
I think about breasts when I hear them spoken about on television, in a movie, in a conversation. So much talk of breasts, everywhere you look. Breast-obsessed.
I think about breasts when I walk by a lingerie store in the mall, and think of all the bras that are still sitting in my drawer that I will never have any need for again. The comfy ones, the pretty ones, the lacy ones. Relics of the past, gathering dust, taking up room.
I think about breasts when I receive a tight embrace. A simple hug. When my ribs are squeezed just a bit too hard, still feeling bruised from the stretching, from the implants, from the surgery.
I think about breasts when I look in the mirror, every morning, every night. Every time I am in the shower, every time I get out of the shower. When I see two large red scars across my chest, when I am confronted with the reminder, oh hey, you had breast cancer… and you still might have breast cancer.
I think about breasts when I remember this day. Being injected with radioactive dye before my surgery. The pain I felt as the dye pushed into my veins. The tears that flowed as I realized what was to come next, and wondering, why me, why me, how is this happening, why me. I cried alone in the changing stall, while I slipped into my hospital gown. I don’t even remember staring at my breasts. There was no farewell. No last glimpse. No time to mourn.
I think about breasts when I remember being drawn on with magic marker, as my surgeon marked up the areas to be cut. I kissed my husband and said goodbye to my parents and lay down while someone rolled me into the elevator and down a hall. I cried and felt as though I was 5 years old, scared of what lay behind the doors. I didn’t let the doctors see me cry. I didn’t want to show the fear. There were so many people in that operating room. Surgeons, nurses, fellows, anesthesiologists. It almost felt like a party. Everyone there, to be with me. To save me.
I think about breasts when I remember the feel of my surgeon squeezing my hand as I waited for the drugs to wash over me, while the whole room stood by, waiting to remove a major part of my femininity. The body I once knew, no longer.
I think about breasts when it is October 19th. My own breast cancer awareness day. All mine.
I don’t need a pink ribbon, or pink toilet paper, or pink football players to remind me.
Believe me – I am aware.