As October draws to a close, I would like to remind you that what passed us by was Breast Cancer awareness month. That is, if you were aware about it in the first place.
To be honest, I never knew that this issue/illness would be this close to my heart as it is now. I had always thought I was invincible. Till this illness struck someone dear to me. It was only then that I confronted myself that yes, it could happen to me.
When I was younger, I used to devour stacks of Ladies’ Home Journal, starting at the age of 10. Yeah, yeah, call me a geek and a little perv, but since the year my grandmom would send us those magazines, I would devour them from cover to cover, from the “Can This Marriage Be Saved” down to the final essay, and even the ads in between. Yes, I’m that big of a bookworm.
But what riveted me most, aside from the “Can This Marriage Be Saved” articles (those are where I got all my marriage/relationship notions, mind you!) were… Breast cancer articles. I’m not really sure whether these were from separate articles or sub-stories within one single article, but a woman related, how, after radical mastectomy, she lay in their tub, dejected, and with her self esteem six feet below. Left with only one breast, she felt like her womanhood was sliced off her. But her husband came in, nonchalantly came over, kissed the area where her breast used to be, then left her alone, revived, and secure again in her femininity.
Another story was of a woman (or was it the same woman?!) who went to the shower room after working out. In the States, men and women (in separate shower areas, of course) tend to go to the shower completely naked, even with other people in the room. At first she was self-conscious and thought that her missing boob may be horrific to others. To her surprise, no one was horrified. And as her confidence grew and her insecurities fell away, she realized that women’s bodies are beautiful, no matter what shape, size, or what deformity scarred it.
I myself have a 12 or 13-inch scar running down my lower back, because of a spine operation. I kind of wear it like a battle scar, a badge of honor, for surviving a spine surgery. It’s beautiful to me, even if I don’t see it.
Back to women and breast cancer. Yes, it is deadly. Yes, a victim would feel like her femininity has been wrenched from her at Uzi-point, what with the chemo-baldness, the loss of a breast, and other indignities that would make a girl feel less than human. But you know what, as India Arie says, “I am not my hair”, so should it be that “I am not my breast”. We are women not for what our bodies look like. We are women, because God made us that way: soft and gentle, and yet tough when we need to be. Else, in the case of my inspiration for this article, she is tough, yet inside, she’s a softie. We are what keeps households together; we can do what men can’t: multi-task and attend to details with sheer, seamless excellence. We are women, and no illness should mar that.
I always had the crazy notion that I may suffer from breast cancer someday. I had that since reading the story about the husband kissing the non-boob in the bathtub. I wanted to experience that kind of unconditional love gesture. I don’t know if I ever will, but one thing’s for sure: at least then, I have a license to go bald*. :p
*Since high school I always wanted a shaved head; it’s just that, ever since, my dad, my ex-obsession, and my fiance won’t permit me to shave my head. :p