18 October 2012

Sisters, Not Twins

My wingman and I went out on a date last night. In honour of Breast Cancer Awareness Month Year we attended a Breast Reconstruction Information Seminar that was being held downtown. It was a jolly event. There were lots of interesting displays (fake boobs) refreshments (non-alcoholic) and many delicious treats (sugary and fattening).

There was also a whole lot of laughter, which seems to be standard fare for these cancer-y get together's where a whole bunch of woman in one room are determined to plough ahead, no matter what kind of crazy obstacles try to stand in the way.  Everybody travelled in small packs, either with girlfriends, or husbands, who took it all in stride.

From the outside, all the entire audience looked healthy. There were a few baldies but they were dressed for an evening out with earrings and make-up and looked very stylish.  There were lots of short haircuts, and lot of long ones and as for the inevitable ladies in wigs  - nothing stood out. Also, all the ladies had two boobs – or more specifically – two breast mounds under their shirt. It was revealed later that there was all sorts of stuff going on under their bras that had nothing to do with Mother Nature.

Later, we (chicks only) would go into another room for a ‘show and tell’ where woman who had had reconstruction would share their stories. These women were easily identifiable by their tiaras, long silk scarves, and the fact they were topless. They were available for questions, and also the chance to cop a feel, or as we used to say back in grade seven, ‘get to first base’.

‘Touch them!’ one young woman said to me. I warned her that my hands were cold. ‘No problem’ she laughed in her breezy Spanish accent, ‘I have no sensitivity!’ So I did, and she cheerfully told me that they felt natural because the surgeon had used fat from her stomach to replace the fat in her breasts. No breast tissue, no chance of breast cancer!  And a tummy tuck thrown in for good measure.

All the ladies had different stories, and all of them glowed with success. The recurring theme through the night was rebuilding, moving forward, and gaining confidence. Or, as one of the reconstructive surgeons said in her speech, ‘We just want to give you boobs that make you so  friggn’ happy……'

And in a quest to ‘return to normal-ish’ that often requires a set of boobs that are the same. Or not! As I have briefly mentioned, mine are a bit of a mess – and trust me when I say that as a woman who has never given birth– mine were pretty prefect.

But according to another speaker, a renowned micro-surgeon (with 157 years of education under his belt) said no set of boobs is ever supposed to be perfect. ‘They’re not twins,’ he said, ‘They’re sisters.’

The entire audience giggled, then breathed a sigh of relief. Of course we don’t have to make them exactly the same. They are sistas! 

And though not always perfect, a sista is the always the very best of friends.

14 October 2012

The Longest Month of the Year

It's Breast Cancer Awareness Month Year, and once again I find myself wishing I had a handbook of clever comebacks. Because once again I found myself in a situation with my mouth hanging open and the little voice inside my head quietly saying ‘Why don't you just f*ck off.’

I was standing in line at the grocery store, watching for a line-up of tired parents filling their environmentally correct bags with orange juice and cereal. Really mundane stuff.  I got to the cash, had my groceries rung through, and handed the young cashier some money.

‘Do you want to give a dollar?’ she said, without even looking up. Obviously she’s been instructed to ask this question, and obviously she had no emotional investment in the answer.  ‘What for?’ I asked her. ‘Cancer’ she yawned.

I paused for a second, and my mouth might have fallen open. A dollar? I get that it all adds up, and that money needs to be raised, but I don't know where the money actually goes. And is it appropriate to be asked by a party so far removed from the cause, that she can’t even look up from her cash machine. Usually when someone wants something they at least make eye contact. Is cancer so mundane that it becomes part of the grocery list?  So I stood there perhaps a few seconds too long staring at the bored cashier with her greasy ponytail. Then the person behind me leaned forward and gently said, ‘It’s breast cancer awareness month.’

Is it now?!’ I wanted to shout, ‘You don’t say?!’ That's why I see a pink ribbons every time I look at a newspaper or turn on the TV! That why every single woman’s magazine is devoted to stories about  'journeys' and ‘survivors!  Canceritis is always inside my head, and for this month it is always outside my head, too. But  I stayed quiet, my head muddled, wishing that I had my handbook of clever comebacks. 

A tired little cashier wanted me to give a dollar. I’d already given eight months of my life, my cute brown bob, and the shape of my formally perfect boobs for breast cancer. And I’m getting chubby.  Haven’t I given enough? The cashier cleared her throat. ‘Do you want to donate a dollar?'  I shook my short curly head. No thanks. Not today.

And with still 17 days left of official canceritis awareness, I’ve got to start working on my comebacks.