The Cancer I Don’t Yet Have
An homage to the women who do
I don’t have breast cancer, at least not yet anyway. It seems like as women we are always waiting for the diagnosis. Every year getting our breasts squeezed unmercifully between two cold metal plates, holding our breath until the beeping stops and the technician gives us the okay to breath. Every year awaiting the feedback from the radiologist, mentally preparing for the moment the mammogram comes back with an ominous white spot on it somewhere. “Here, here’s the spot, you can see it on the film.” Says the radiologist matter of factly, followed by “talk to your doctor or breast surgeon, they’ll need to do a biopsy.”
I’ve luckily never had that conversation, I’m waiting for it every year but it hasn’t come, yet. The closest I had was having to go back for a sonogram after a cluster of white spots, calcifications, was found on my right breast. I went back and they were gone. They couldn’t explain it, chalked it up to possible calcium deposits that absorbed back into my body. Could it be the apple cider vinegar I began been drinking that month?
This yearly process has made me think a lot about my attachment to my breasts. Turns out I’m fairly attached, for better or worse. Are most women so attached? We’ve been led to believe that our breasts are part of our femininity. That breasts make us sexy, beautiful, we receive attention for them. They feed our children and coddle our loved ones. How do we define ourselves without them? Will we be beautiful, sexy, sensual?
These are some of my thoughts and fears. I’m fortunate that for now, they continue to be only speculative.
I know the most beautiful women who have lost their breasts to cancer. They are my dear friend, my high school mate, my colleagues, my family. They radiate from the inside out. They have lost no beauty, no femininity and have gained godliness. I know their struggles are heart wrenching, turning them inside out, agonizing over their children, their loved ones and themselves. I do not pretend to know their struggle and experiences only my external perception of it, which does not do them justice. I cannot know, and for that I’m grateful. These women give me hope. They give me strength and they give me peace. If I’m ever in their shoes I can only hope to live with such grace and beauty. They are my warriors.