And then, I have another question to ask you. It’s the one that comes after “Did you check your boobies this month?” and “Do you even know how beautiful you are?” but before “Do you have enough life insurance?”
Ready? Take a deep breath, girls, this is a big one.
I’ll start with a little story.
Last month, to celebrate my oopherectomy (I know!), my husband took us all back to the beach for a week. My mother-in-law and father-in-law came with us, and we spent a week together in the shelter of the house, watching storms rage on the beach and winds blow the waves higher than we’d ever seen. We ventured out when the weather let up, to dig on the beach, dip toes in the surf, and dash from little shop to little shop between the raindrops. It was incredibly relaxing and wonderful.
My mother-in-law and I slipped off to a little shop at one point while the kids played and dad and grandpa watched them on the playground. We popped into the beach-wear shop and tried on sundresses. (Yes, in September. That’s just the way I roll.) I fell in love with a beautiful deep blue number with stars and swirls. I loved it — but I was hesitant for one reason. My chest. No, not the lack thereof — but in fact the radiation burn to the skin (where my breasts had been) was showing, peeking out of the neckline as if to say, “Hey, remember me? Ha, ha, I’m still here and it really hasn’t been that long since treatment!” Or something like that. It’s a nice deep tan, now, but still obvious.
Or at least obvious to me.
So I came out of the dressing room and asked my mother-in-law if it was obvious to her.
And then I realized that I really didn’t care all that much who it was obvious to. I have a radiation burn. I don’t have boobs. I wear a funky arm wrap. That’s just the way things are. That’s just who I am and what I look like now. And I’m tired of covering it up. So there.
I twirled in the dress, and I felt better.
But the clerk heard us talking and came over to join in. (Slow day at the beach.) After reassuring me that she didn’t see anything, I told her why I was concerned, and told her that I’d had cancer. (To me, it was obvious. Silly me.)
Turns out that she’d had a bad mammogram 2 years ago and never followed up. Never got the biopsy. Never saw an oncologist. She just didn’t follow up. And now she’s wondering about the pain in her breast, and worried about going to see someone.
My jaw dropped to the floor. My mother-in-law and I both urged her to go see the doctor and get checked out, if just for reassurance, but I don’t think we were successful. I considered bargaining with her, kind of “I’ll buy this dress if you’ll go see the doctor,” but, in the end, I didn’t. Cause that’s rude. And cause I really wanted the dress.
But you, my friends, are so important to me that I’m going to be rude and ask you what I regret not asking her:
Are you putting off a doctor’s visit?
If you are, can I encourage you to go? Please?