My Boobs Have an Expiration Date

I am two days away from my last chemo, and about five weeks away from my big surgery. I am looking up at the steepest hill of this race, but finally getting a glimpse of the finish line.

And all of a sudden I’m realizing that my boobs have an expiration date.

When I was in middle school I hated my boobs – mostly, because they didn’t exist   They just weren’t there. The boys joked around calling me “Melissa-flat-as-wood” (Wood was my maiden name).

And then in high school – I was awed by them. They arrived overnight, they were two perfect circles — and they were big. Whoa. What was I to do with these things? Naturally, I shoved them into tight bodysuits (can you believe those were a thing?? Didn’t they snap at the crotch?), and admired the way they popped over the tops of sundresses and swimsuits.

In college, birth control made them even bigger. In full disclosure –they were pretty impressive. I had to wear two sports bras for long runs, and had a hard time finding bras that fit. They bounced under tight dresses while I danced, and the tops of them browned in the sun as I lifeguarded.

If I’m being honest — sometimes they made me feel powerful. Sometimes they made me feel sexy. Sometimes they made me feel noticed. Sometimes they distracted from my wit and intellect. Like when a professor told me I would get a teaching job because I looked good in dress.

If I’m being really honest—they came out completely one drunken night in New Orleans.

And then I became a mother.

And they made me feel magical. They grew bigger than I believed possible, and filled with milk. They fed my babies. They silenced the crying in the middle of the night, and nourished my boys. They popped out in public while nursing, and filled up bottles as I pumped at work. They sustained life. I remember thinking to myself, that even if there was a natural disaster with no electricity, or food – I would be able to feed my babies. Nothing can explain that feeling.

And then in the years after nursing –they lost their circle shape. I joke with my friends about them being giant skin tabs, that turn into triangles when I bend down in the shower. One sports bra does the job, and if I am lying on my back without a bra, they slip down into my armpits. (Okay — that might be a slight exaggeration.)

After finding out about my plans to have a double-mastectomy, many people have commented on how lucky I am to get “new, perky boobs.” I guess that’s one way to look at it.

The thing is – I like my saggy triangles. They are mine. They have a story. They were underneath the pink tank top I was wearing the night I met Joel. They’ve bounced over finish lines, climbed mountains, and swam in rivers, lakes, and oceans. They fed my babies.

I was planning on growing old with them. Joel said he will miss them too, but also pointed out that they tried to kill me. Which is true.

I guess that makes it easier to say goodbye. We’ve had a good run.

If all goes well, five weeks from now I will be waking up from surgery with new boobs. Ones that aren’t made of me. They will be unwrapped, and placed inside the spaces left from carving out the cancer.  I wonder how I will feel seeing them for the first time. I wonder what they will feel like on the outside, and on the inside.

One thing is for sure- they will cross new finish lines, get brown in the sun, and bounce around as I dance my way through the rest of my long, long life.


2 thoughts on “My Boobs Have an Expiration Date

  1. I think you really do have to grieve losing a part of yourself. I’m sorry that you have to go through this difficult journey . I wish you strength and courage. And in the words of Neil Young: Long may you run.


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