The shower is the best place to check for lumps. Once a month I take my two fingers and go round my breasts in a circular motion, just like I was taught. I do my self-exam twelve times a year, my gynie exam once a year and my mammogram too. Fourteen times, for sure, every year, when I stop and pray for healthy breasts.
I’m grateful that I have not been directly touched by breast cancer. Some years back, my girlfriend Aimee got it. All of us cried, and some of us prayed. There’s nothing like a cancer diagnosis to push you towards or away from God. There was a conversation at Aimee’s house, as we all sat around like ladies in waiting, while Aimee lay nauseous from chemo on the couch. Mimi was angry that, “God would do this to our friend.”
Some nodded heads in agreement. I tried to explain that God doesn’t pass out malignant tumors at whim. And then there was discussion about the reconstructive surgery. It’s miraculous to lose your old, saggy, cancer-riddled breasts and replace them with new ones, perky enough to forego a Wacoal harness. Halise (half) joked that maybe we should all get new silicone-filled implants as a show of solidarity. That lightened up the mood!
This summer, I was with my daughter Rachel having a Berry Chill. Aimee and her husband were there, they were getting their tangy frozen yogurt fix, too. It occurred to me how nice it is to run into an old friend, but when your old friend is a cancer survivor, the meeting is even sweeter. It’s not that Aimee’s status changed and she’s now, “The one who had breast cancer.” It’s just that my appreciation for our friendship grew through her illness.
Do I appreciate my friends enough— in sickness and in health, in good times and bad? I never want to take anyone I love for granted. And I certainly don’t want to have another breast cancer wake-up call reminding me how much my girlfriends mean to me.
So I say to my girfriends: I need your companionship, big shoulders and stupid sense of humor. We can be the most prayer-happy bunch of women in the hemisphere, but if we don’t take care of our bodies, our souls cannot make up for the neglect. Feel yourself up in the shower, visit your doctor regularly and get mammograms. Be healthy, girlfriends.
- Susan Diamond