When I was 8, I learned a secret about my grandmother. At the time I thought it was a secret that I couldn’t share, but now I don’t think it’s unshareable. In fact, if it reminds someone to check in with their life, then it’s worth sharing.
My grandmother has one breast. A uniboob.
Shirley was 50 when she discovered her lump. Her very own lump, as if she wanted to keep a dark ball of cancer close to her heart and scream “mine, mine, mine” but regardless, it was the gift she received. Her sisters were both dead because of their own lumps, one at the age of 32 and one twenty years later.
Ironically, or maybe because checking her own breasts had been implanted in her mind the day before, my grandmother found “the cantz-uh” one day after a regularly scheduled trip to the gynecologist. The day after the doctor never found the lump he had trained my grandmother to look for. Doctors are only human, which is the point, since I have both a brother and sister who happen to be them, and who I know, for a fact, growing up, made mistakes. Humans miss things, even doctor humans, and this was one of those not-rare-at-all times. She didn’t take chemo, nor radiation, just chopped the boob right off and sewed it back up. And she’s still her today, 32 years later.
At first I didn’t know what to make of my grandma’s uniboob. I thought it was strange. Secret. That she was the only one. I didn’t think it could be this badge of courage, and awareness, but now I know it is. My grandmother took matters into her own hands, and I’m really proud of her for doing it. For both finding her lump and for reminding me that checking for lumps is something I need to do on a regular basis. So I check myself, and this month, this Breast Cancer Awareness month which ends at the end of October (although we can remind each other all year long if you’d like) I hope you’ll remember to check yourself too.
Information on how and when is the best time to check yourself (Caremark.com)
Video on How to Examine Your Breasts (not exciting, but thorough)