I just stumbled upon this poem, which I wrote about a year after my mastectomy. Part of the struggle of having breast cancer is accepting the damage done to our breasts, which mean so much to us as women, lovers and mothers. Now four years later, although I can't forget the price cancer made me pay, I am grateful to be in a better place of acceptance.
Who doesn’t remember at age thirteen
developing breasts that emerge.
The joy of tight sweaters suddenly
evidencing womanhood on the verge.
Then again, with pregnancy’s swell,
they grow bigger and fuller still.
With breastfeeding’s love and joy,
my child is nourished and filled.
As years progress, they sag a bit lower,
the result of time’s relentless sum.
Gravity’s effect on body and ego,
accepted with grace and aplomb.
Then why suddenly does it hit,
so much so that I can’t accept,
That stereotactic puncture under my breast,
the first damage done while I wept.
And then the second surgical biopsy cut
circling my nipple, angry and black.
The precursor of change to come and
normalcy I can never take back.
To face a mastectomy is to face cancer
and whatever it now creates.
A physical reminder of life’s necessity
to do whatever survival dictates.
The mutation is horrific – bigger than the readiness
you thought there for your protection.
Your fear is misunderstood, they think what you seek
is plastic surgery rendered perfection.
I want what I had – which was far from perfect,
but perfectly me honed by time.
The body which changed and matured, slowly
forming an aggregate solely mine.
But slowly metamorphosis becomes familiar and
soon after its reflected effects.
The constancy of change begets acceptance
and opposition to what is relents.
I am an assemblage of particulars, a creation of time
unrelenting, a most fascinating study.
It’s all part of me and my journey and now
it’s time to make peace with my body.
Survival > Existence,
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Originally published on WhereWeGoNow