This Sunday is Race for the Cure day in Portland. I’ll be there with my girlfriend and, thankfully, my mom. My daughter will be sleeping in for the cure, in Des Moines.
Ten years ago, maybe eleven now, my mom was diagnosed with ductal carcinoma. Her primary care doctor scolded her for not getting a mammogram that year and insisted that she do so in the following week. Thank you, Dr Zelko! They found a tiny white speck on her films that, upon biopsy, was indeed cancerous. She had a bilateral mastectomy within the month.
The doctors had said that they didn’t need to take both of her breasts since the cancer was only on one side. She told them that she had no need for them anymore and to just take them both off. “Besides” she said, “odds are it will come back in ten years and I don’t intend to do this again when I’m in my 70’s.”
As they wheeled her into surgery, she sat up in the gurney, lifted her gown up in front and flashed my dad. She said, “Take your last look at heaven, buster!”
Her recovery went pretty well. After she was up and about she took to walking around the house topless. She told me that she was going to go do some gardening in the front yard without a shirt on. She said, “Hey! Men get to go shirtless all the time, why can’t I? I don’t even have nipples!” I told her not to be ridiculous, with her pale skin just imagine the sunburn she’d get.
Her chest is criss-crossed with scars. She loves how flat it is. She feels liberated without those fleshy appendages. She has encouraged me to get a bilateral mastectomy ~ preventative medicine, she says. I have ambivalent feelings about my breasts and always wish they were smaller. I don’t think the insurance will pay for that, though.
I feel so lucky to still have my mom in my life. She is one of my greatest champions, always fiercely defending her family, always helping us be the best people we can, always encouraging, protecting, enlightening. My dad is right there too. I was blessed to born into a loving family.
When we step out tomorrow and head downtown for the Race, we’ll be doing it at mom’s pace. We usually stroll for the cure. Some years we only go a few blocks and she says, “Let’s go get a cup of coffee and a pastry.” So we do. Of course we do. We’ll amble through the tents and vendor displays, we’ll get our souvenir scarf, we’ll mingle with the throng of women in pink and then we’ll go home and watch football and drink mimosas. I got some pink champagne for the occasion.