Breasts Part II

My mother has breast cancer. Just as her mother did before her. And here I am, looking at my chest, knowing my breasts are time bombs waiting to go off. Every bit of news from my mother and her surgeons has been “optimistic”, but then each new step is worse than the optimistic estimate they gave us, so it hits us hard every time. Every time, we aren’t supposed to worry until we have all the information, but each appointment gives us little, except that it’s worse than they thought and we need more appointments to figure everything out.
There is really nothing I can do to help. With a young child, being with her is more about me keeping my child away from anything valuable at their house, and she can’t pick him up until her stitches heal anyway, so my presence is not useful. Flowers don’t fix anything, meals are covered for now, so all I can do is keep family members updated and plan normal family holidays at my house for the foreseeable future. I send her pictures of the baby. I ask her if she needs anything. I wait.
And as I wait, trying to focus on planning my son’s first birthday party, I can’t help but think about my future. As soon as my breasts stopped producing milk, they became nothing more than omens of future doom, waiting to infect my body. I think I’ll try and go for some genetic testing, see if there’s anything preventable we can do. And when I considered it with my husband, I thought even about a preventative mastectomy. It made sense, but somehow made me emotional. So I asked him what he would do if he were in my shoes. He said, “If an unnecessary part of me could kill me, I’d cut it off. But this is totally your decision. I don’t have a body part that I’m emotionally connected to the way women are with breasts. I don’t know what it’s like to be a woman, so it would be your call.”
Having a body part that is only ‘functional’ for a small portion of my life is a strange thing. Breasts are so entwined with identity, with how clothes fit, with sexuality, with femininity as a whole. And yet, the logical part of me says, “It’s not like they are a vital organ anymore. Why be so attached if they could kill you?” And, yet again, I’m thinking about breasts all the time. Maidens crave their curves, mothers their nourishment, and crones their wisdom. How decorative they now are, yet how sad I’ll be if I have to lose them.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s