*Amendment to this post: Today’s Moment’s of Happiness Despite the News has been taken down but will be available in September of 2018 in book form! The below unaltered text is a peek at what you’ll find in the upcoming book.
And so today’s moment of happiness despite the news.
So here’s something you might not know about recovering from breast cancer. It’s something I didn’t know until recently.
When you have a lumpectomy, as I did, you expect to feel some pain. You expect there to be incisions. You probably expect there to be some bruising. You might even expect there to be itching as it heals (though I swear, with the itching I have, I think someone implanted fleas below my skin’s surface).
What you might not expect is that the breast feels heavy. And I mean HEAVY.
I was told that I would likely feel most comfortable wearing a bra around the clock after surgery, at least for a few weeks. I did for a while (I’m two weeks out), though when I sleep now, I’m back to free and easy. But during the day…the bra is very necessary. And I am constantly aware of the weightiness of my right breast. Unlike some women, I don’t name my breasts. I don’t call them the girls. But I have, in the last few days, referred to the right breast as PudgePocket, the Continental Soldier (after the girls’ locker room version of Do Your Ears Hang Low: Do your boobs hang low, do they wobble to and fro, can you tie them in a knot, can you tie them in a bow, can you throw them over your shoulder like a Continental Soldier…) and YankEmUp. It feels very strange because I’m used to the two of them being in balance. But I am definitely listing to the right.
I was aware, and I wasn’t, that I’ve begun helping out the bra by supporting my right breast in my hand. Some people walk with their hand in their pocket or they jingle their keys or some other mannerism. Right now, I hold my breast in the palm of my hand.
Which is fine, around the house, donchaknow.
Today, I went to the bank. I had to stand in line in the cow corral for quite a while. So I glazed a bit. Finally, I made it to the next available teller’s window. It was Sheri, my favorite teller, someone I’ve known now for 12 years. She helped me with the very first deposit into my business account and she’s watched the business grow with almost as much joy as I have. She’s also cheered every book release. In my new novel, In Grace’s Time, a bank teller plays a minor role. I named her Sheri.
Sheri is also aware of the breast cancer. She is a soft-hearted and quiet support.
So I stepped up today with a smile on my face and my bank bag ready to go. Sheri leaned forward. “Kathie!” she whispered. “Let it go!”
I was puzzled. “Let what go?”
She did a fast series of eye push-ups, up, down, up, down, up, down, from my face to my…right breast.
Which was held firmly and lovingly in my right hand.
“Shit!” I said, probably loudly enough to be heard. And then I howled. So did Sheri. So did the other tellers. The people in line and at the other windows, well, they weren’t quite sure what to do. I mean, there was this strange woman groping her own breast in line at the bank.
When I could stand upright again, I let poor Pudgepocket go. And I turned to face the other customers. “It’s okay,” I said. “I’m sorry if I made you uncomfortable. See, she’s in recovery. I had surgery two weeks ago for breast cancer. She’s still limping a bit, and I sometimes have to give her a lift.”
Lights of realization went off in everyone’s faces. Some more than others, among the women. And I turned, smiling, back to Cheri.
I hope I’ve paved the way for other women, holding, supporting their own recovering breasts.
Last week, I found myself scratching the impossible flea-under-the-skin itch while I was in Starbucks. But we’re not going to talk about that.
And yes, that helps. Despite. Anyway.