Friday, November 16, 2007

"I didn't think I looked strange ..."

“I didn’t think that I looked strange after my mastectomy, I thought I looked like the photo of the Vietnamese girl who was running from the napalm.”

This is what one woman said at the Breast Cancer Support group I went to last night.

The women all were at some stage of Breast Cancer. Some had lost their hair from the chemotherapy. Some were undergoing reconstruction surgery.

I was the only new person. Pre-surgery. I just realized 3 days ago that mastectomy is in my cards. I never in my whole life imagined that I would have breast cancer, or be faced with losing a breast. No one in my family had breast cancer, and it just never occurred to me. It’s like I was unexpectedly dealt the Old Maid from a deck of cards that I didn't know had one.

The women were supportive. They seemed very much like women to me – relational, feeling, nurturing. Like sisters. Like mothers.

Some talked a lot. Some said nothing at all. It was mostly the silent ones that I felt drawn to.

The woman next to me kept leaning toward me with encouraging remarks. Sue, with almost no hair, offered to show me her “Barbie breasts” (no nipples.) I declined. I was too afraid. But they looked good under her clothes. Her plastic surgeon is the same one I will be using.

I feel very grateful to these women, these sisters. I never really knew how to do this “sister-stuff”. Maybe now I will learn.