More Breast Tape than a Kardashian at an Awards Night


Like many women of my vintage my best body years were hidden behind bad 90’s fashion. High cut levi 501 jeans, bandanas and tucked in t-shirts. All of that beautiful skin, hidden. When things literally turned pear shaped, stretch marks on thighs and wobbles in the mid section, others were now bare, waisted. Wasted.

Over the years the wear and tear of a well worn body is beginning to show. In our twenties we called them unidentified party injuries – UPI’s. The bruises discovered the morning after. Dancing, running, wrestling and weekend sport. In my 30’s it was a stray stroller incident, a trolley in a supermarket, dinner parties, great food, pregnancy and birth. Stretch marks, c-sections, a small scar from a catheter. Today I added to the list. I woke this morning with more tape on my chest than a Kardashian at an awards night. With a surgical cut and stitches under my arm and bruise across my breast I had joined the team, the epidemic that is breast cancer. I am now the holder of a saturn cushion that nestles under my arm to protect the tenderness that signals the removal of my very inconvenient case of cancer. There are way too many saturn cushions being used in Australia right now.

Jane the cancer nurse perches herself at the end of my hospital bed. I love everything about her. She runs the show at the breast clinic, organises surgeons, pathologists, oncologists and radiologists. She knows everyone’s name and makes her way with purpose from the hospital to the surgery waiting rooms with the kindest face and the brutal truth. She has been there from the first moment, from shellshocked to giggles to fear.

“Jane can you explain something to me?” she smiles a wide smile with pink lipstick, she’s older than me and I imagine there’s not much she hasn’t been asked.

“Will it come back? Why have I had a lumpectomy? Why hasn’t anyone suggested just getting them both taken off?” My fear is now obvious and open.

“It’s normal to be worried about the return, but it’s early days yet. We need to find out what we’re dealing with. Most people with a small lump when treated correctly carry on without a return of the cancer. We’ll know more on Friday, it’s early days.”

We speak about the possibilities. The sentinel nodes that have been removed. The margins around the tissue that are gone. The pathology results that will give us more answers. I realise I have more waiting, that while I think I’m lucky I’m yet to truly know. After Jane has gone and G arrives to collect me I’m speechless for the first time.

“Are you okay?”

“Yes, just, I don’t know, there’s so much to this.”

“Yep” he’s calm, always calm, packing the contents of my hospital stay in my bag for me “and that’s why we’ll do this step by step”. As we drive home he offers seafood risotto for dinner, my favourite. The children bicker in between self indulgent stories. Vegetables are cut, soup made, the dishwasher is packed. I lay on the couch with the body of a nine year old sandwiched next to me. We are back to our normal, life as us continues. They are my everything and I will do anything for the banality of dinner and a clean kitchen.

Today I added another scar, another story, another step in the adventure. Nothing wasted, no regrets, a body well used. What a ride.

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