Memories of the Mammaries

Some days the most significant accomplishment of the day for me is flip through a Victoria’s Secret Catalog and not drop a tear. One of the downsides of having a mastectomy is the feeling of being excluded from something that you were a part of for a long time. I used to circle the lingerie section at stores just to check out what is there, but now I feel like I don’t belong there. That my wishes are tied now to matronly specialty stores offers crowded by ladies my mom’s age.

Nothing against them, but as they say chemo ages a person 10 years. Sometimes I feel like I am living the life of a 50-year-old. The hot flashes confirm the suspicion. I  had never thought the I will have hot flashes at 41. Suddenly, a bunch of 50 year-olds and I are chums because we can both bitch about hot flashes and night sweats.

Losing a breast isn’t easy, I always feel like taking a right turn (don’t have the left boob) because I feel that is the direction my body wants to go, as if the right turn signal is on! My run doesn’t have the same rhythm, the plop-plop plop-plop is just plop…plop. Every time I look in the mirror, my chest winks at me. I do thank the surgeon for leaving a small part in the middle intact so could pull together a deceiving cleavage, if I dare to bare it. Another advantage of having both breasts is, it hides the little protuberant belly. Now with the breast gone, I get a better view of the steroid-enhanced roundness and believe me, I don’t want to see that.  Steroids make me hungry, and after chemo there is only so much salad and cucumber a gal can eat before you open the cookie box. It’s not me, it’s the steroids!

I remember the night before the surgery. I had showered so I would sleep better. Gauri was laying in my lap, and then she fell asleep, cozily nuzzled between the two soft and friendly entities. And there she was breathing softly with her face burrowed in my chest, and I knew that this was the last time she had this comfort. But I knew that I needed to do the surgery, so she still has a mom to hug and cuddle with.

I remember when Shuja was born. I wanted to breastfeed him right away. What I didn’t know was how newborns root for the nipple. I panicked, thought my baby was blind and couldn’t really see where to latch on. Thank God it was just fear. I breastfed both my children for at least one year. Those are some of the beautiful memories of the mammaries, and the love and bond they created between my children and me. I feel the loss, and I think they do too, in their way as if one of their favorite childhood comfort toys got broken.

The great thing about children is their resilience. They don’t obsess over stuff for too long. Not like adults. Something we can all learn from the little ones in our homes.