We all know October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, right? And you know what that means. We talk about Boobies! Jugs! Knockers! Bazookas!
Life is funny, even ironic.
Growing up, I developed very early. I loathed my Play Dough form. My body couldn’t handle the extra cargo at such a young age. None of my friends had this issue and I felt like either one of my extra endowed grandmothers. True story: To flatten my burgeoning tea cups, I would wrap an Ace bandage around my chest. It was all workable until summertime. My solution was to wear an ugly Speedo bathing suit and tie the straps with a shoelace until my chest flattened enough not to have to wear a poncho in the pool.
As my body surged forth into the high school years, I was still larger than any of my friends and still hated how I looked. I wore billowy clothes, football jerseys and my brother’s t-shirts. It didn’t help that the boys would yell at me in the cafeteria: “How’re those melons smellin’, Helen?” I was so confused, I would yell back: “I don’t know! Ripe?” until my friend, Denise, explained I was being harassed. I wasn’t savvy enough to be affronted. I just continued to dress like Mama Cass, the early years.
The wheels really came off the mammary wagon when I gave birth to my daughter. I tried to breastfeed, but I had a legitimate fear I could smother her with those submarines filled with nature’s bounty. The best day for both of us was when I shoved a bottle of unnatural formula down her throat. However, my chest was still just freakishly large. I felt like I had to pay for carry-on luggage when I flew. But I had no carry-on luggage. Just a carry-on set of eggplants. My back ached, I slouched like Shrek and I wanted to carry those eggplants around in a grocery cart.
I made the best decision of my life a few years later when I discovered a real thing called breast reduction surgery. I won’t go into the icky details, (although you know I’d love to), but suffice it to say it was a whole new world. I finally felt properly compartmentalized. My 4’11” body wasn’t being suffocated by those awful feedbags any longer.
Jump ahead to 2010 (this is the ironic part) when breast cancer wreaked havoc upon my soul. And, then, sadly, I had the mother of all breast reductions. Good bye toxic tatas! You and I were never right for each other, anyway. It’s not you; it’s me.
After 10 procedures and revisions, all signs of cancer, breasts and implants were removed forever. I was faced with the exact opposite issue that had plagued my younger years. A dichotomy of breasts. Now I was struggling to find a way to plump me up, so I didn’t resemble a 12-year-old boy.
It was while I was debating the purchase of expensive mastectomy bathing suits for vacation when my friend, Jen, said to me: “You wear whatever the hell you want! No one knows you on that beach. You can be whomever you want to be. No one cares.”
A switch was flipped. She was so right. I decided to no longer try to build up my depleted sand castles. I am free. I am unencumbered. Let freedom ring. Not swing. I am good enough. Finally. The decades of Breast-gate are over. How are those melons smellin’? Just right, thanks.
Maria Jiunta Heck, of West Pittston, is a mother of three and a business owner who lives to dissect the minutiae of life. Send Maria an email at [email protected]