Have You Hugged Your Boobies Today?

Posted: October 16th, 2008 | Author: | Filed under: Cancer, Extended Family, Friends and Strangers | 1 Comment »

A couple weeks ago I was reading an old high school friend’s blog and found out it’s National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Thankfully, breast cancer hadn’t been on my mind at all.

But last year–Breast Cancer Awareness Month of 2007–that wasn’t at all the case. I mean, I didn’t even know it was a special month then, but I was all too aware of the Big C because one of Mark’s aunts, and one of our favorite humans ever–the woman who performed our wedding ceremony, in fact–had just been diagnosed.

If it’s a sickening stressful scary feeling being the friend of someone who’s going through what she did, I can’t even imagine what it’s like to be the protagonist. I mean, as fans of Mark’s aunt, we are just a small part of a large large group. So when she was sorting out and sifting though all the early information and emotions, she luckily had a big community to tap into for support, resources, good doctors’ names. And of course the insights of other women who had gone through it too.

Again, I have no idea what it’s like, but I can only imagine that it’s like walking into a room of all these women–maybe some close friends, some social friends, former co-workers or clients, and even a big klatch of your mother’s friends from Florida. All these woman who  you’ve probably known have had breast cancer, but of course now that it’s struck you, you can’t help but see them in a different light. Maybe you’re greedy to get information from them, or desperate for their empathy or compassion, and you definitely want to hear all the really positive success stories. (Woot to all those Floridians still waking up every morning, greeting the day, and hitting the golf course!)

Or maybe you don’t even want to go there and reach out to them at all, even though they’re smiling up at you and offering their support in that amazing way that women seem to be able to even if you don’t know them at all but really just need someone to help you because you’re grocery bag is slipping and you’re holding onto your crying baby and your toddler has decided to run into the busy parking lot.

You know. That amazing way that women who don’t even know each other can be.

But anyway, back to this room. This room that I imagine is filled with all these women who have some life connection, and now another link through breast cancer. As much as their smiling faces and encouragement may bring you comfort, at least in those early days I can imagine that there’s that moment as you walk to the center of the room that you see a chair and it’s got your name on it. That must be the big sucker punch.

Everyone knows someone who’s had breast cancer, but then what do you do when it’s suddenly you? I don’t care how friendly or welcoming the members are. Who wants to be part of that club?

Well, once you get through all the surgeries and treatments and whatever other interventions might take place, God willing you graduate to the elite gold club. The survivors’ club. And blessedly so far everyone I know who has wrangled with breast cancer has managed to do that.

Because of course there are many other women who I know who I haven’t mentioned yet. Women who would be in my imaginary support room, as it were. Once Mark’s Aunt started to move into the “looks like it’ll be okay” realm towards the end of last year, my womb-to-tomb friend Amelia’s kid sister was diagnosed. I mean, in my mind she’s still 11 years old and poking around the outskirts of where Amelia and I are hanging out, wanting to get in on the older girl action. But really she’s in her mid-30s now. Older than my mind can grock, but still way too young to have an oncologist.

And one of the first people to spring to my mind whenever I see a pink ribbon is my beloved sister-cousin, Nancy. I’m not exactly sure when it was that she passed the special five year mark to being free and clear of cancer. And thinking of that now it makes me regret that I wasn’t more aware of it. That I didn’t send her a massive bouquet of flowers that day, or write a fat check to a research charity in her honor, or have a freakin’ parade for her. Truly. I can think of no better day to jump into a fountain in public and dance and dance and dance.

Of course, there are so many other women who I’ve known–and even not personally known–who I’d love to recognize. The mothers of friends that I made in adulthood, who died when my friends were young girls. Women I never knew but whose daughters dazzle me daily with their friendship and intelligence and creativity, not to mention their own amazing mothering. To all those long-gone mothers, I pay tribute to you and promise to take special care of your girls. (They’re all doing great! You’d be incredibly proud!)

So today I shout out to you from my front porch. Sitting here in the sunshine of a warm October California day. Happy to be alive. Happy to be the mother of a sweet dumpling baby who is sleeping inside and a spunky brilliant spitfire of a preschooler. Two daughters with whom I hope to share a long and illness-free lifetime.

And of course, I hope the same for you and your daughters, mothers, cousins, sisters, and favorite aunts.

So here’s how I envision we get there. Let’s go out and get mammograms despite how unpleasant we may have heard that they are. Let’s really do regular self exams. And get tested for the BRCA gene if you have a family history. Let’s laugh in the face of the crumbling economy by writing out generous checks today to Susan G. Komen For the Cure, or Breast Cancer Research Foundation, or National Breast Cancer Foundation or whatever charity or hospital or research center is meaningful to you.

If everyone does their part today, maybe a few years from now when someone brings it to your attention that it’s National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, you’ll think to yourself, “Oh, right. Breast cancer! I’d almost forgotten that disease even existed.”

1 Comment »

One Comment on “Have You Hugged Your Boobies Today?”

  1. 1 Drea said at 7:11 pm on October 16th, 2008:

    You ROCK, sistuh! And much obliged for the shoutout. :-)

Leave a Reply