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The Boobs Get All the Love

This picture went viral after Saturday night's hockey game... I wonder why?

This past spring I found out that I had breast cancer. My right breast was full of tumours - they stopped counting at ten, but there were more there. Fuck!

Actually, I don’t really remember what my reaction was. I think it was more "of course I do" with an eye roll rather than a huge shock like it was when I found out I had colon cancer. I think I may have been a little relieved that I could finally stop talking about my colon and rectum and could talk about my boobs instead. Way better!

I had to go for a mammogram because my latest scan showed something. Then I had to go back for another a week later, along with an ultrasound, and the Radiologist finished up the ultrasound and told me she was concerned. That’s when I knew. That wasn’t my first rodeo, so when the Doctor whose job it is to read scans and ultrasounds tells me she’s concerned, that’s all I need to know. A few days later I was walking into Lions’ Gate Hospital in North Vancouver for a breast biopsy.

Fuck Fuck Fuck! How can this be?

As I’m walking into the hospital I’m barely holding back tears and finding it hard to catch my breath. This is going to be awful, I hate needles, hate hospitals, and I’m overwhelmed.

Then my phone buzzes and it’s my friend Lorraine, who has this weird gift of reaching out exactly when I need it. We don’t see each other that often, but it seems like every time I need someone she’s there. I can’t tell you how powerful it is to have someone reach out like that, to know that someone remembers I’m still here. Amazing.

Anyway, now I feel like I can face whatever this biopsy is going to be, so in I go.

Let me tell you, the breast cancer world is a whole different place than colon cancer! It’s like staying at the Hyatt after a lifetime of stays at the Motel 6. Everyone who works there is a woman. They hold your hand and tell you you’re going to be ok, and suddenly things don’t seem so scary.

The biopsy was pretty painless, and that’s saying something. That’s coming from someone who has been through a lot of painful, gross procedures in the last four years, who is pretty traumatised by needles and breaks out in a sweat just at the thought of an IV. But you know what they say: location is everything, so this procedure wasn't nearly as invasive as others that I'd had to endure. I actually watched the whole thing on the screen as the needle went deep into my breast and pulled out bits of tissue.

The best part of the whole thing is what happened next. They insert a marker into the spot where they took tissue from, and it’s shaped like a breast cancer ribbon. Talk about icing on the cake! That has to be a woman’s touch! Who else would think to decorate the place before leaving?

Now I’ve developed a whole story in my head of who this woman is. I imagine she’s a busy breast cancer doctor or nurse, but in her spare time she makes intricate handmade greeting cards that she sells on Etsy. They’re the kind of card that opens up to an elaborate pop-up display, and as I open it a butterfly or two flutters out. She’s the Breast Cancer Fairy, and I love her.

That world is now just a hazy dream though. My estrogen-blocker worked and there’s no sign of any tumours and I honestly have mixed feelings. You mean after all this I’m not getting a new set of boobs? Damn! There truly is no justice.

Before I go, I wanted to give a shout-out to all the Moms out there. I have the privilege of enjoying my kids as adults now and feel the satisfaction of a job well done. I don't think I had a full eight hours' sleep anytime between 1992 and at least the year 2000, but it's all worth it now. There were many times when I wondered how I could possibly have been outsmarted and outmanoeuvred by a toddler, but I survived and so did they.

And I didn't do it alone. It really does take a village. There's Glenn, of course, but today I'm thinking about all the other women who have stepped in and helped along the way, like their Grandmas, who just love them for them, and their teachers who encouraged them through the years. Karen, who was and still is a second Mom to our youngest daughter Noa,

It's the hardest, most frustrating job, and sometimes you kind of have to cross your fingers and hope for the best, but it's one I would do again in a heartbeat if I could. Or maybe I wouldn't - I'm enjoying them too much as adults. And the empty nest is great!

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