On February 26th, I had my bilateral mastectomy. I was back at work on March 9th with a few random aches and some strange knots around my scars. And then, on March 18th, the university told us to work from home if we possibly could. I’m grateful to say that I could. I mean, I still can. This is my seventh week working from home.
Really, it’s like I never went back to work. It’s like I lost my breasts and the world changed. I had cancer and then the world suffered from a pandemic.
You’ve probably forgotten about the cancer. I forget most of the time, too.
I wonder, if I would’ve know I’d have all this time at home, if I would’ve just gotten some reconstructioned breasts. Probably not. But all this time at home has made me think. It’s also forced me to slow down and heal in ways I probably wouldn’t’ve if rugby were still going on. Even though I retired.
In an effort to tell my body to go fuck itself, I’ve started running. Not that kind that involves a ball and an objective, just the kind where you go out and force yourself to keep your legs pumping into nothingness. It’s awfully boring. But I hear it’s good for me.
I’ve been fishing a lot, too. I’ve been turkey hunting with Dad. I’ve made some music with the family. I go on walks with Gaby almost every day. The family eats dinner together every night. Chef Gaby has been very busy in the kitchen creating things she’s always wanted to but never found the time. We’re all benefiting from it.
But, maybe you’re wondering, you know, what’s it like to run without boobs? It’s great, I guess. I only have to wear a shirt-no special bra. I feel sleeker. I feel more athletic even though my times and distance don’t really prove that. Erika has complimented my chest a lot. I look really good in my shirts now, but, like others working from home, I haven’t worn real clothes in nearly two months. I have five t-shirts and two pairs of jogging pants I rotate for work clothes. I’m even wearing my bad underwear. Why? Well, why not.
I did have an appointment the other day with a medical oncologist. My surgeon sent me there to make sure I couldn’t benefit from an estrogen blocker (since my cancer was estrogen positive), but he told me the risks outweigh the benefits, especially considering that I shouldn’t have any breast tissue left. We discussed my next appointment with genetics. There, they can tell me if I have a serious mutation, like one of the BRCA things. Like, maybe the one that causes ovarian and uterine cancer, too. The oncologist said the dreaded words I’ve heard all year long “at your age…”
Getting cancer at my age, he says, probably means there’s something else going on. Something that genetics will find. And if I have that gene, he says, I should just go ahead and have a total hysterectomy. Or I can have trans vaginal ultrasounds every three months until I die. I’m positive if women were the majority of doctors for centuries, this dildo camera would not exist. So. No thank you. I’d rather have another major surgery. I’d rather be a brain in a non-sexed skin suit than someone being probed by one of those goddamned things for eternity.
We were supposed to be going on vacation in a few weeks to an island country. I was concerned about it during surgery, like, would I be healed in time? What sort of bathing suit do I wear? Can I go topless? What are the social rules governing this type of body? Curious, I put on my sports bra swim top. It was uncomfortable. I mean, I can’t believe I used to have to wear one of those all of the time. It looked hilarious since my chest is literally concave now. Let’s just say I’m glad we’re not going to the beach soon so I can have more time to figure it out.
I guess that’s about it. My scars are scars. I no longer have adhesive stuff from the steri-strips clinging to my skin. I though that shit would never come off.
When I finally showed Cyrus my scars, I lifted my shirt, feeling nervous about his reaction, but his face lit-up, “Mom,” he said, “I love it!” He lifted his shirt to reveal the vertical scar that runs down the middle of his stomach (from his feeding tube surgeries). “Now we’re scar twins!”
Of course I cried.