Live Life with Breast Cancer


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Eight days after my first mastectomy
my girlfriends and I went to an outdoor Sting concert where the heat index was 110 degrees. I wore white linen and my turkey basters—drains that dangled from rubber tubing, surgically attached to where my breast had been.

Our seats were in the last row. From that far back Carrot Top could have been lip-syncing Sting songs for all we knew. As I looked around at the thousands of women in the audience, I could not shake the thought that statistically one out of eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in her lifetime. I studied them, teenagers, women in their 20s and 30s, 40s and 50s, all the time thinking “She has it and doesn’t know it. She’s going to have it. She’s had it.” Breast cancer. The unspoken fear we all harbor deep within. The fear that will change our lives forever.

I also thought that if each one of those women knew about my bandages and turkey basters—where a week ago my right breast had been—many would not have agreed with me: At that moment, life does not get any better than this. I was alive. I was there with my two best friends, singing and clapping like my world had not been condensed onto a hospital pathology slide. Fifty some years smeared onto a piece of glass two inches long and three-quarters of an inch wide, my membership card to the Breast Cancer Sisterhood.

I was struck with the urge to hug each of those women and tell them to keep singing; keep laughing; keep living, to pull from each moment the things you want to remember. Savor them. Cherish them. Laugh at them. Live your life with joy. Do it deliberately and intentionally. “Tomorrow is promised to no one.”