My two breast friends.
By Elizabeth Thompson
My husband walked by our bathroom and caught a quick glimpse of me staring at my naked reflection. He snapped his head back into view and gave me a perplexed, “What the hell are you doing now?” sort of look.
I just stood there -- lifting one breast, then the other, letting go and watching both flop back into place, and astonishingly not too far from my belly button, like a pair of empty saddle bags -- sadly surrendering to the bare effects of gravity.
“It’s just that, every year, they seem to be pointing further and further south.”
I continued to stare, this time motionless, and felt totally betrayed by my own body. My husband moved closer and put his hands on my shoulders. He gave them a quick jiggle that sent ripples through my breasts similar to those caused skipping a stone over a smooth pond.
“I don’t have a problem with them. I’ve grown rather fond of ole’ Zeke and Elmer.”
Okay, so, he affectionately calls my breasts, Zeke and Elmer – just don’t ask me which one is which. They both look the same, though one is slightly larger than the other, and I just don’t care to remember anymore. This happens to me about the same time every year, when the seasons change, and I begin to feel restless. I want to change everything.
“I hate the color of our bedroom! I’m sick of the wallpaper in the living room! I’ve just about had it with the floor in the kitchen. And I need a new pair of breasts!”
My husband playfully causes the ripples to migrate to my backside and says, “Cheer up! Besides, don’t you start your exercise class tonight? All you need is a good work out. That’ll perk you right up!”
When it comes right down to it, Zeke and Elmer were way past perky. The boys and I have been through a lot. In the last 10 years, of what I’ve come to refer to as our Baroque Period, I’ve watched them grow to an alarming (my husband would probably relate more to the word thrilling) size with each of my four pregnancies. I looked as if I were inflated and ready for flight, but felt more like a vessel carrying a pair of burning hot boulders as my attempts at breast-feeding consistently failed. I ignored my husband’s futile attempts of encouragement and insisted that he run to the drug store for formula, as I alternated between ice packs and violently swaddling Zeke and Elmer with an ace bandage. They’ve been pulled, bitten, fondled and squeezed to unbecoming lengths and sometimes bear a resemblance to a haphazardly folded roadmap.
Zeke and Elmer have done their time and time has done them in. I grabbed for a towel and demurely covered the old boys.
“Don’t worry guys, I won’t mess with you. You poor things deserve an early retirement.”
Later, sitting behind the wheel of my minivan on the way to another physically humiliating and exhausting session of Pilates, I listened to an advertisement sponsored by the National Breast Cancer Awareness Organization. There was a dad talking about losing his wife to breast cancer. He talked about how his children missed their mother and how he felt that no family should go through what they did in the short six months after her diagnosis. I was stunned to learn that she died at age 35. That In 2004, it is estimated that about 216,000 new cases of invasive breast cancer will be diagnosed in the United States, along with 59,390 new cases of non-invasive breast cancer. And that every woman is at SOME risk for breast cancer – that this is merely the “risk” of living as a woman.
I turned 40 that year and made a mental note to finally make an appointment for a mammography. Not that I looked forward to having Zeke and Elmer sandwiched in between pieces of cold machinery in a very clinical way, but I was gradually becoming thankful for my healthy body; grateful to be able to feel anything and everything.
I had my baseline mammogram done, at 41, only a few months ago and have recently gotten my hands on a great deal of information to share with the moms (and dads) involved in my ten year olds’ girl scout troop.
No, a ten year old should not be worrying about breast cancer, but chances are each of them already knows of a person who has both battled or succumbed to cancer and I believe that you’re never too young to bring awareness to the women in your life -- especially in showing them that you care.
So, I salute you – Zeke and Elmer – as I become a little more aware of my two breast friends. I'm thankful for the favorable diagnosis and looking forward to acceptance, because there’s nothing immediately ailing the old boys that a good under wire couldn’t cure.
To learn which facilities in your area are taking part in the event, call:
American Cancer Society (800) 227-2345
National Cancer Institute (800) 4-CANCER
Y-ME National Breast Cancer Organization (800) 221-2141
Or visit the following websites:
National Breast Cancer Awareness Month
National Breast Cancer Awareness Organization
American Cancer Society
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