Five years ago, I hated you. I couldn’t wait to get rid of you and never, ever look back. You had betrayed me. You betrayed my whole family.
I stood there, exposing you for who you were, as the doctor ran a marker over you and explained where he’d cut right into you, taking you off my body. The lump you created would be sent to pathology and the remaining tissue, instead of destroying it (and how I wanted you destroyed), would be donated to research, and maybe even help someone else on the same path one day, betrayed by her own breasts.
I remember glancing at you with disgust that day, you looked so pathetic. You too-closely resembled tube socks filled with sand after breastfeeding two babies. I couldn’t help but think back to the days before kids when I really loved you and actually considered you one of my better physical assets. Now, not only were you ugly, you were trying to tear me down.
I’m so sorry. Because of my anger and fear, I never even said goodbye. I was so caught up in the chaos of the situation -- one minute, I was having blood drawn to see if I carried the same genetic mutation my mom had... the next, I was having an MRI just to be safe. It was only two weeks later, five years ago on this very date, I was being wheeled into surgery to have you replaced with a less realistic replica. With two kids and a husband to fight for, I never even had the chance to stop and mourn your loss.
And a great loss, you were. Because it was you who nourished my boys, working to provide them with what they needed every three hours, even while the rest of me dozed off. It was you who taught me some tough lessons about men, that even though some may have been interested in you, it didn’t mean they were truly interested in me. I can hardly remember a time before you, you were like the one constant that grew up with me -- literally -- and even got bigger when I’d gain weight, smaller when I’d lose it again. You were fun to dress up and take on the town -- you even got me to the front of the line once or twice.
But you’re gone now.
I don’t mean to hurt your feelings but I really don’t think of you the other 364 days of the year. Because not only did losing you also rid me of the fear that I would lose the breast cancer battle in my 30‘s, like my mom did, I was also given a new appreciation for life -- and myself. It’s true, I sometimes look at my body, what I call the human pin cushion, with frustration and disappointment (I am a girl, you know), but sacrificing you has given me more than it could ever take away. I’m empowered to make tough decisions, confident that I’m strong enough to handle almost anything and actually feel more womanly than ever before -- something I think all women should have in their lives.
But after five years apart, I will admit that your replacement still doesn’t (and probably never will) feel as close to me as you did. But they’re perky, allow me to explore new clothing styles and have promised me that I’ll never, ever require duct tape to keep them from flopping around while working out.
If I never write you again, please understand. It’s not that I don’t love and appreciate all you’ve done for me, but it’s time to move on to a new chapter of my story, one that involves love, laughter, health and happiness -- something I could never have achieved without my experience with you.
From the bottom of my heart, I thank you for that.
For more of my story, click here.
For more on the risk of genetic cancers, visit facingourrisk.org.