Monday, May 18, 2009 was a milestone in my life. 10-years cancer-free.
Breasts are important to pubescent girls. In Grade 7, I was teased by the in-crowd for being a late bloomer. Tomboy, they called me. How many days did I come home from school crying. Mom consoled me & taught me ‘Sticks and stones may hurt my bones, but words will never harm me.” I remember checking the newly budding areola in the mirror when I was thirteen. Found that pretty amazing and oh, so, welcome. Soon I was bugging my Mom to buy me my first bra, a 28 AA. To make the occasion even more memorable we took the CN train on a Maple Leaf excursion all the way to New York City to buy my first bra at Macy’s on an Easter weekend.
I was so proud when I returned home. Now when the local neighbourhood boys stroked my t-shirted back to see if I was grown-up or not, I had proof positive. And having a bra merited my first French kiss, not to mention drinking Tony’s dad’s homemade plonk in his basement. I can still remember the headache.
Then came the arm exercises to increase my bust size — oh and running my breasts under cold water was supposed to work too. Don’t think so.
Breasts became pretty much a fact of life except around ‘that time of the month’ when they became sensitive and reminded me of their existence. Oh, the joys of being a woman.
Fast forward to 1999, a newlywed of four years, and the discovery of a lump in my breast. Surgery was scheduled for May 18th. Waking up in the recovery room with my husband at my bedside, the doctor gave us the news. The growth was malignant, but the operation was a success and ‘we think we got it all.’ I didn’t cry much, too numb I guess. One night in the hospital, sleepless despite the Demarol and the painkillers. Then I was sent home, although I would have preferred to stay another day. Coming home with a drain in my breast was rather daunting.
Enter my best friend who flew in from Toronto to be with me that afternoon. There is no better best friend on the face of the earth than my bff, Susan.
Ten years have passed. The six weeks of radiation are but a distant memory, as well as the five years of Tamoxifen.
People say congratulations to me for being a survivor. I don’t feel that I did anything to deserve the congratulations, I am blessed beyond belief; that’s all.