Tomorrow is the big day. The day I never wanted to come. It is the mastectomy of my left breast. It is the day that I will go from having two breasts to one. It seems likes something so trivial, and yet I can’t get it out of my mind. It’s just a boob, but it is mine. By letting my doctor take it, I get to live, and I know this is the most important thing, but it is mine. Mine. Mine. Mine. IT IS MY BREAST. It is a part of my womanhood. It is a body part that I have had since the day I was born. It is something that I have appreciated in all its smallness, perkiness and flat chestedness even when the boys teased me. I never cared. It is mine. I have nursed all three of my children with these breasts, and now one is going to be taken. Fear does not even begin to convey the numbness pumping through my veins
I do okay for the most part of the day. I go through the motions as I head to my plastic surgeon’s office so he can “mark” me. Apparently, he has to draw on me while I am standing up so he knows where things fall and how my body aligns. When I am in surgery tomorrow, my breast surgeon will begin and when she finishes the mastectomy, my plastic surgeon will take over. At this point, I will already be lying down on the table with my breast gone so he needs to know where to start the beginning process of reconstruction. My friend DeAun has taken me to this “mark me up” appointment for which I am grateful. On the way home, we laugh, giggle and chat though I remember none of it. I do okay on the ride home. I think I hide it well. I think.
It doesn’t truly hit me until I get home. I walk into the bathroom, and I take off my shirt to see what he has drawn on me. There are two big circles in purple marker around my breasts, lines going from here to there and back again. Like a treasure map, with a line that goes up the center of my chest bone. There are a few arrows pointing to the left breast and then the word “YES” written on the top of this breast. As I see this, I let out a nervous laugh. I can’t keep it together anymore. I lose it. I sob and sob and sob. I stare at myself in the mirror with purple marker all over me knowing that I will never again see myself as I once was. Never again.
As it is finally time for bed though I know I will barely be sleeping, something reassuring crosses my mind. My brother was born on November 22nd. My basketball number in high school was number 22. My brother’s Special Olympic’s basketball number was 22. My best friend’s dad, Frank, was killed in an automobile accident on February 22nd. It was a horrible day for years and years and years. But then years later, though I tried to hold her in with all my might, my first daughter was born on February 22nd. My second child was born on June 22nd. My third was born on April 22nd. My best friend, Stacie, who’s dad died on the 22nd, had her son 5 years ago on September 22nd. AND TOMORROW IS SEPTEMBER 22ND! I just can’t help but think that how is it that this is my surgery date? I have to be in good hands. All of this involved two surgeons and a hospital all having to coordinate a date and a time to match their schedules. What are the chances? I imagine Frank looking down on me. My children smiling and giggling. My basketball years and my brother smiling from ear to ear in his Special Olympic’s jersey. Although my body is still numb with fear, a calmness begins to regulate me. With visions and memories of the number 22 in my mind, I fall asleep on a night that I thought it impossible.