Having my boobs today gives me empowerment that I never had before. I always knew I had big breasts but I would not disclose it. Having been raised in an Orthodox Jewish home I grew up prudish, taught not to show cleavage or wear tight shirts. As a married woman I hesitated to go sexy and as a mom I tried not to impose my past beliefs but believed I set a good example.
Today, I wear my 36D's with honor and power for all the women that cannot-- because of breast cancer. A crazy disease that takes away your boobs; that at one time or another, changes a little girl to a women and allows her to talk and shop bras, discuss mammograms and breast feeding.
BC has taken that from my daughter and I can't give that back to her but I try to honor mine with pride"for Abby and all the others that no longer have theirs.
March 2007 my daughter Abby told me she found a lump in her breast and asked me feel it. Honestly, I never felt a breast lump before but this felt more like a mass of tissue, not a lump. What could I say? Calmly I told her she must see her GYN, immediately. She was able to get an appointment the next day, oddly with the group that delivered her October 15, 1979. She was immediately sent for a mammogram, which turned into hours of tests. I was unaware of this and she was alone. That was the beginning of weeks seeing specialists and enduring tests. I went to the radiologist with Abby which turned out to be a very painful biopsy. I wanted to stay in the room and watch the procedure; feeling completely helpless and praying for "nothing'. I had to hold back from going over to the bed and just holding her hand and stroke hair, like I had done so many times when she was a child. But I could not. This was not the time for drama.
Finally on Friday, April 29 at 3:45 Abby calls me at work where I impatiently waited all day to hear her voice. Then thru tears and sobs she tells me the results from the tests. She has cancer. Then there were words: breast cancer, aggressive, radiation, chemo, and mastectomy. The mass in Abby's breast was so large a lumpectomy was out of the question. That was apparent when the radiologist put up the films, somehow I think we all knew, but did not want to admit it.
How can this be? Abby was only 26, she just moved in with her boyfriend three weeks ago. She was getting her Master's Degree next month. Breast cancer did not run in our family. How can this happen to my daughter.
Abby already had two medical scares and the scars to prove it.
When she was two yrs old, a large lump grew under her right jaw line. It became so large so fast we could only imagine the worst. Five lymph nodes were removed from this beautiful little girl. There was never a positive identification of the bacteria in the nodes. No action needed to be taken. The 2" scare is the only reminder of the start of Abby's plight.
In 1987 Abby was doing a six year old dance and spin when she went to flop on her bed and completely missed landing on the floor hitting her head hard. I woke her every two hour and asked the required questions: what is you name; when is your birthday; what's your brother's name? When she woke in the morning and still had a head ache we called the pediatrician. During the exam, I could tell something was up. Did anyone ever tell us that she had a heart murmur? Sometimes a trauma like this could make it more prevalent and easier to hear.
We were advised to call Children's Hospital of Philadelphia and see Dr. Friedman, the best pediatric cardiologist in the city. It was confirmed the murmur was a small hole in the lower chamber of her heart. But we should not be concerned and come back in a year for further testing. Relief, again nothing to worry about. Thank goodness.
I was near the due date of our third child and time for the follow-up appointment with Dr. Friedman. A routine ultra sound was scheduled and all hell broke loose. A 15 minute procedure turned into an hour with so many doctors and nurses going in and out of the exam room anyone could tell something was wrong.
To everyone's surprise this nothing to worry about murmur is actually a hole in the upper chamber of Abby's heart--the size of a dime. She is eight years old with a considerable hole in her heart that has gone undetected for nearly a decade!!
ASD repair is open heart surgery, and a week hospital stay, I was 8 months pregnant and could barely function. But I did. I give birth to our son Matt, Abby finished 3 rd grade and on July 6 th Abby is admitted to Children's Hospital of Philadelphia and successfully has her heart repaired. Another scar reminds me of what my daughter has gone thru. A deep breath and I put it right out of my mind, but never out of my heart.
Now the boobs part. My grandmother, mother, aunt, three sisters and cousin all had large breasts. Abby was "one of the family'. Our family liked our girls. Bras and boobs were common words. I loved them like the rest, but I never showed cleavage, or wore tight tops. Abby always thought they were her best asset.
Fast forward and Abby was faced with the decision whether to have both breasts removed or only the cancerous, right breast. Asked what I would do? I would have both off and no reconstruction, probably some very cool and colorful tattoos. But I was 51, as much as I would miss them, I didn't need them.
It was hard to tell my daughter that I thought both breasts removed would cut the chances of breast cancer coming back in the left breast. Abby did research and thought long and hard. She decided that if she had one untouched breast and the other reconstructed, she would always compare one to the other. Friends that have had only one removed confirm
June 20, 2004 Abby's BF, aunts and I say goodbye to Abby's boobs. Really, we had a group hug and fondled Abby. This is not a surprise since Abby hosted a "Say Goodbye To My Boobs" party two weeks prior to the operation. Friends and family came from four states and toasted to our girl. A lovely, tasteful photo of Abby's cleavage from that night proudly hangs framed in her house. Abby was all about making everyone feel ok about her cancer. As difficult as it was, her great attitude, humor and kindness did help.
This outward expression of "life" created awareness. Her teenage brothers and their friends were wearing pink bracelets and were interested in what was happening to Abby.
Abby thought it funny that she was allowing young boys to say "boobs'.
This brings the awareness to a new level. Anyone can get breast cancer. A close family friend had it, and he was a macho man. More aggressive than Abby's and given a grim future, but he beat it!! Now doing all that he was told he could not do. Inspiring.
But a 26 year old girl?? Unheard of. No gene, no family history, no nothing. But the truth is "it happens. Abby fought with all she had; esp. her mind. Abby is a fighter and a leader.
Abby threw herself in to cancer. She became a spokesperson for the Komen Mother's Day Walk that year and we all volunteered to help that day. I was torn between being so proud of my daughter for stepping up to the plate; making commercials, doing tv interview and knowing this was happening b/c she had breast cancer.
The Susan B Koman 3day walk. 17 walkers from three states. "Simply the Breast" raised the third highest $ amount for the 2007 walk in Phila. Again, proud and sad at the same time.
At the same time of the mastectomy Abby had breast implants. However, there was an uncertain cell in the wall that needed to be killed; radiation. That blew out the implants.
Another surgery needed to have the implants removed and then extenders implanted to be pumped up every week until her skin stretched to the size of her new breast size.
In between all of this; Abby applied for a great job. She interviewed and kept her secret. Got the job.
Then another surgery to have her back muscles pulled to her breast area and have the new permanent implants inserted.
Months later Abby could get nipples tattooed in the doctor's office covered by insurance. But Abby researched and found the original tattoo artist that perfected these tattoos and made a road trip with her two friends, pictures of her real nipples and other pictures of ones she admired and drove to Maryland for the real deal. Of course documented with pictures.
All of this time, Abby had been going to all appointments with her new man, Jed. She did not need Mommy or Daddy, although I surely needed to be there. But she was raised to be independent, I respected her intelligence and had faith that Jed was there for Abby. Not easy for me.
Move forward. Jed is absolutely devoted to Abby and her recovery. He is great at taking care of Abby and fulfilling all of her needs, with a hint of humor.
So they get engaged, married and now expecting a baby boy in December.
I was always afraid of showing off my breast; they were too big. Purity issues?
Now I know that boobs should not be taken for granted. I love my breasts and at age 55 I have no hesitation at all to wear low cut tops; show some cleavage and wear a bra that raises them up!!!
It took the loss of Abby's breasts to find my own!!!