It’s odd to say, but I’ve always thought I would get breast cancer. I have done the walk for breast cancer every year for the past 10 years. Whenever presented with an opportunity to donate to breast cancer research, I always do. I have been asking my mom to ask her mammographer for years about when I can have my first mammogram (the response was always at age 40)… until now.
At a young age, I knew that my grandmother had had breast cancer twice. She beat it both times, eventually with a double mastectomy. She was a therapist … a sex therapist. I have lots of stories about embarrassing, public, unsolicited sex ed sessions. Important lessons about not double bagging a condom, never keeping one in your wallet, but absolutely always putting a helmet on that soldier;  they were always conducted in a crowded restaurant for maximum humiliation. Sage advice, but maybe a little premature for a 9 year old girl. I’m pretty sure the intended audience was my brothers who were 14 and 17. I was just the wide-eyed innocent bystander. She did, however, have a lot of useful information when I chose the subject of my high school junior thesis paper: the psychological effects of a double mastectomy on breast cancer patients.  [play Twilight Zone theme song now] Little freaky, right? Not only did she give me a first hand experience to cite, but as a therapist, she had access to research that helped me.
Of course, lately, I’ve been thinking about what the psychological ramifications will be for me. Probably as a coping mechanism, I just tell myself I will cross that bridge when I get there. Will I still be comfortable undressing in front of my husband?  Will he still think I’m sexy?  Will I scare my kids when I undress in front of them?  How will I explain the scars to my little girls and why Mommy’s boobies look different than theirs?  I don’t know how to answer any of that yet.  But I am going to look for that paper, maybe my 16 year old self has something to share with my 30 year old self.

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