Apologies if this post gets a little personal – but you have been warned!
I used to have a love/hate relationship with my boobs. As a teenager, I always thought they were too small. Guys love watermelons, and I have lemons. Guys love Ds, and I am barely Bs. …
But I quickly realized that’s not true. Guys love boobs, period. AAs, DDs – there’s someone out there that likes them, whatever them is.
In fact, I’ve secretly been amused many times over by a guy who will say to me, “You know, I really don’t like big boobs,” and then sit back and wait for me to shower him with some sort of reward. As if he’s the first guy that ever said that to me … And for every guy that has told me he doesn’t like big ones, there’s a guy who’s told a big-breasted woman he doesn’t like small ones. I’m sure.
It’s amazing the things I used to hate about myself that I no longer hate. I used to hate my pale skin. Now it just is. I used to hate my small breasts. Now I like them. I used to hate my freckles. Now they just are part of me. I even used to hate my red hair. But as it started fading to brunette, I realized how lucky I’d had it.
Sure, I might have my boobs be a little bigger if given the choice for a perfect body – instead of Barely Bs, maybe a full B. Or a C. But I’m not going to complain over the, ahem, small stuff.
[Family, close your ears for this paragraph. Family, you hear la la la la la la la.] And for me, if I’m being honest, it’s not really an orgasm if the nipples aren’t being given attention. It’s just not. Who’s with me?
So, all that said, and I say hooray for my boobies. No more love/hate relationship, no sir. I officially love them.
So a few weeks ago, during a routine checkup at the GYN, the topic of family history came up. And my family history is littered with cancer. Both of my grandmothers have had breast cancer. My grandmother on my mom’s side died from bone cancer. One of my aunts has had breast cancer. My grandmother is going this week to an oncologist to check out some spots on her bone. My mom had melanoma. My grandfather had colon cancer. My cousin has had melanoma. My grandparents’ siblings had colon cancer, breast cancer, and the list goes on.
So, the doctor suggested I go for genetic counseling. This basically means that they will be looking for a certain gene mutation that leads to breast cancer. It’s genetic, and it can come from either side of the family. And since I have it coming from all sides, it won’t hurt to find out if I have this risk.
I agreed without a second thought. Anything to keep me healthy, right? Sounds like a smart idea to me.
In the weeks since, my appointment has been made for April 9. It’s at the Blumenthal Cancer Center at Carolinas Medical Center. I’ve mentioned this to a few folks, including my dad, who told me to be careful – he said my mom had a doctor tell her once to cut off her breasts. One of my aunts did remove her breasts per a doctor’s recommendation, Dad said. (Not the aunt that had the breast cancer.)
I knew that this was going to be a possible recommendation from this sort of screening. I have read magazine articles regarding the controversy surrounding this. My doctor assured me that breast removal is an extreme measure, and that there are other measures that can be taken in a situation like this, depending on the results. I responded positively – no worries.
When Dad told me about the recommendation for my mom and aunt, it gave me a little concern. If it’s genetic, and that’s what they were told to do … gulp. But again, I wasn’t worried about this at all. It is what it is. I mentioned to a few friends that I was doing this, and some of them responded with, “Aren’t you freaked out?” But I’m not, and here’s why:
I would rather know than not know, and I either have the mutation or I don’t. The screening won’t change that. It will only tell me one way or the other.
Deep down, I figured that if I did end up being told to remove my breasts, that implants could make it as if it never happened. I mean, of all the body parts to have removed – thank God it’s not an arm or something! At least these could be “replaced.” But I was talking to Karen this past weekend, a nurse in oncology, and she told me some pretty devastating news: That when the breasts are removed for that reason, implants could be done, and they would look the same … but … the feeling would be gone.
Now that would be terrible.
So yesterday I got out my packet and started filling out the information. I’m glad I started now, considering the depth to the questions, and I emailed my mom asking her to tell me everything she knows about my family’s battle against this cancer, and my aunt on my dad’s side.
And then I got to this question: How well are you able to manage your feelings about your cancer risk?
The answer choices were: Very well / Little of a problem / Somewhat of a problem / Not very well
I sat for a moment, my pen poised over the questionairre, and then I finally circled Very well.
I answered it correctly. I think.