A Southern Lady

[dropcap]Y[/dropcap]ou’d never know she doesn’t have a pair of breasts beneath that bra. But she doesn’t.

“I don’t want fake ones,” she told me. “Not inside me. Something about it feels strange. Maybe it’s because my mother was a proper Southern lady, I don’t know.  ”

Well, this Southern lady is forty-three now. Five years ago, she went in for a routine check-up. It was bad. After the doctors diagnosed her, she cried in bed for a whole week. Treatment changed her appearance. Her two daughters didn’t know what the hell was going on, or why their mother looked so sickly.

“I didn’t want my girls to know,” she said. “I’d leave for therapy, and tell them I was going out for a manicure. They’d get upset.” She gave a laugh. “They wanted to get their nails painted, too.”

She tried to do everything she could to salvage her breasts, but physicians warned against it. Some things aren’t worth keeping, not when they’re killing you.

Not when you have daughters.

“Before you get sick,” she explained. “You never think about things like this. You can’t imagine body parts you’re proud of, as a woman, are killing you.” She glanced at her own chest. “Even though I knew it was the right thing, I wasn’t ready to lose them.”

The surgeon performed a full mastectomy, removing what she described as her most prized female possessions.

She went on, “When I first looked at myself in the mirror, I felt like a ten-year-old boy. The week after my procedure, I broke down and told my girls what’d happened. We all cried.”

Well, it’s been five years. She’s cancer free — knock on wood.

She wiped her eyes and said, “My two girls have developed breasts of their own now. I’m really glad I’m still alive for that, I know that must sound silly to you.”

No ma’am. It’s not silly. Not to me.

And not to your daughters.