“I wanted you to hear it from me,” she said. “I have breast cancer.”
My birth mother’s voice was steady.
In the past two weeks, both my stepmother and my birth mother have been diagnosed with breast cancer. Neither case seems serious; both were caught early on. Treatment plans have yet to be finalized, although my stepmom’s is further along in the process. Neither will lose their breasts. Both will lose lumps and endure radiation, possibly chemotherapy.
My hands reached up to feel my own.
“Damn it, Mom,” I said later last night, “I worked so hard to grow these things. I can’t lose them now!”
She laughed. I’m serious. I have stressed about them since before they showed any promise of ever becoming real boobs. I’ve been known to declare “They’re growing!” when they most certainly are not. I have obsessed since I was 13 and got made fun of on the playground for being underdeveloped. As the years progressed, I grew to love them. I’d like to think it’s mutual respect.
I’ve always assumed that I’ll end up getting breast cancer some day. My birth mom’s mom died of it. And now she has it. I’ll be the third in a long line of cancer. I have tiny boobs – it’s not like I’ll miss a lump. On the plus side, after they have to take them, I can get a sweet new set.
I guess I need to go get the genetic test done to see if I have the gene mutation indicative of breast and ovarian cancer. I’m scared to get it though. Not because I’m afraid to have breast or ovarian cancer, but because I’m worried that it’ll preclude me from getting insurance coverage based on “pre-existing condition” bullshit. I guess it’d be nice to know about ovarian cancer before it happens, so that maybe after I have kids, I can be proactive about minimizing my risk.
I was getting my hair cut yesterday and my stylist was telling me about the breast cancer walk. (I was going to walk with Dad and J, but didn’t because her daughters were going to be there – we have consciously avoided meeting and I didn’t want to make an important day weird – so I declined.) She teared up as she was telling me about her boyfriend’s mother and sister, who both died of it. And I found myself tearing up a little too.
I have a doctor’s appointment on Friday to discuss all of this. I’ll be interested to see what they recommend, and I’m curious to see how my insurance will handle coverage for the test based on the fact that I’m adopted – will they still count my biological mother and grandmother, as well as various aunts, as close family incidences of breast cancer? I mean, they should. (Medical history-wise, being adopted sucks. I always write question marks on family history forms.)
I don’t want to lose two out of my three moms. Not to breast cancer. I don’t want to lose me, either.
Let this all serve as a reminder to feel your boobs, people! Have someone else feel your boobs. Whatever it takes. Those monthly shower examinations could save your life.