More Boob Talk

It’s been a bit of a while, hasn’t it? Well, getting ready for chemo and radiation and such… is busy business, particularly when one is healthily fixated on finding out as much as one can about the procedures… the drugs… the side effects… and whether or not one can get a cranial prosthesis that looks just like Storm’s hair.

I mean, if cancer undearest is going to take so much of my time, the least the bastard can do is help me cosplay. I’m thinking… Okoye while my head is totally bald, Imperator Furiosa when my hair starts growing out, Misty Knight after my hair is a few inches long, and my Storm wig (I mean, cranial prosthesis  *cough, cough*) for whenever I am feeling like flinging wild lightning and making my eyes look creepy (which, knowing me, will likely be fairly often).

So… there I was, waiting to be fitted for a fake knocker—I doubt I will ever wear it with my regular clothes but need one for specialty items (like a paintball armor), which have spaces for two boobies). Anyhoo, I was sharing this gloriously creative idea with another prospective breast cancer ass-kicker, when the look of raw horror on her face made me… burst into laughter. I know… how awfully inappropriate of me, but… when have I been known for my social appropriateness? Exactly.

I apologized to the lady and explained that I was not laughing at her. But at the fact that her facial expression had been so extremely vivid that it looked cartoonish, and well… I have the sense of humor of a 12-year-old boy (or a 9-year-old girl) who believes that nothing could be funnier than saying “fart” aloud or watching a cat get almost murdered by the mouse it wants to kill and devour (Tom and Jerry rocks!). I also told her that finding a way to make the best of things is what keeps me radiant (earlier in our conversation, she asked me how I managed to stay so radiant while she can barely get up in the morning, and she is not even as ill as I am).

After all the explaining was done, and after she started wondering if the wig people would let her get away with a cranial prosthesis that resembled Chaka Khan’s hair in the 70s (and before we were asked to step out of the waiting room because our raucous roaring was disturbing others), she decided that she would try really, really, really hard “to have fun with cancer treatment”. Once I heard those words dance out of her smiling lips, I walked around like a peacock—feeling all superior and all shiny all day. Not because I convinced someone to walk in the wilder (and louder?) side, but because I might have helped another human being find a way to make the best of an impossible situation, to do that honestly, and to do it for herself. It was… magic!

For moi (and for most, methinks), living with a collection of chronic illnesses and then being slapped with a disease that could be terminal isn’t easy, but… it doesn’t have to be the most difficult thing in the world. Like I’ve tried to point out in every Trinkets and Armor post I have shared, I believe that we can turn any torment into something we cannot just live with but thrive through.

I also believe that we must achieve this thriving in our own way. I do it by never allowing any person or group or social expectation to have the power to make me feel anything but perfectly me. Like I told the person, who while fitting me for a breast prosthesis, told me, “What your eyes see from above, when you look at the prosthesis, is not as accurate as what I see when I look at you from the front, and what others are seeing is what matters.” I gave her a smile fueled by the sort of hostility that kind of nonsense rips right out of my gut, and said, “Oh, my dearie, the way I see me and what I think of the seeing will always matter to me a whole lot more than anything you or anyone else can come up with. And since I am the first one on my list of who and what matters to me, whatever you say is less than crap.”

I know this person was just doing her job. And heck, she might even be right about my bird’s-eye view of my boobage. But… we start losing who we are when we stop correcting people about what is true about our Selves. And what I am, my Wicked Luvs, is sure… proud… and protective… of what I see in the mirror. Also, only a blinded fool could look at me without seeing purest Magaly-perfection. And, yes, I am also proud of understanding that my modesty goes beyond anything anyone can withstand without bursting into fits of uncontrollably wild adoration (or rage). 😀

Breathe… my Wicked Luvs, breathe… it gets easier when you breathe… then laugh!

 

and out of life, poetry:

I see perfection
in the mirror, pure wonder—
me, unchangeable
in spirit, willing to grow
into better fitting flesh.

 

 

a wee note…
– I stopped posting weekly Trinkets and Armor prompts because participation went down to almost zero. But worry not, my Wicked Luvs, I shall continue using the tag and you are always invited to add your insight to all my posts.

 

Maliciousness Loves Masks

Since I was not fast enough to get rid of a particularly nasty bit of heartlessness, some of your eyeballs were exposed to the putrid words left by certain excuses for human beings who read “Make Yourself Fortunate”. I wish to request (of those of you who read the comments) that you don’t share the persons’ names. No, I’m not trying to protect those slugs. I am not that nice. But I believe that sort of people is best ignored. We can—and should—remember the lessons carved by their lack of humanity. But… like Gunny Highway says to Profile in Heartbreak Ridge, “Don’t give the prick the satisfaction” of receiving any claimable attention.

I won’t share all they said, but here is some of it: “Recognizing you’re as weak as everyone else will help you in the long run. No one can fake forever. I’m sorry that you had to get cancer to learn but better late than never. I’ll pray for you. But that’s not always enough. Pray for your own salvation. If you accept we are here to serve His will I know He will listen. Sometimes we need to fall to remember our place.”

The rest includes so much gloating that for a second, I was certain this person was joking. But the punchline never came. Nope, not even after I reread it a couple of times. Once I deleted the comment and emailed those of you who raged at the idiot on my behalf, I did a lot of thinking, tried to figure out what could motivate a soul to act in such a way towards another. At first, I thought, It’s fear. [This individual] is just scared. Cancer (even someone else’s cancer) can terrify people to the point they stop using their brain. But a follow up message, freed me from my unjustified attacked of kindness. “Afraid to let others tell you how they really feel about you? That won’t help you. Maybe you need to ask yourself why you got the cancer in the first place. I’m not your enemy. I’m trying to help you.”

If you are both amused and disgusted by the last bit, you aren’t alone. But don’t let it trouble your heart or mind. It is not troubling mine. On the contrary, I’m grateful. You see, one of the eyeballs who got to read the stinky tripe before I could delete it is the child of one of the tripe-spewers, someone who has been trying to sweet-talk me into allowing her parent back into my life since the first day I said goodbye.

The most devastating part about this whole thing is that “Make Yourself Fortunate” was not even inspired by my experience alone. It was the result of a conversation I had with someone who is having a terrible time dealing with the physical effects of her breast cancer diagnosis. We were waiting to get fitted for lymphedema sleeves, when she burst into tears. I didn’t know her, but she was sobbing so violently that I hugged her anyway. She clung to me. And I had to bite my cheek and tongue not to cry with her (when I cry, I bleed through my nose… and have problems breathing). She said that therapy isn’t working, that her family and friends don’t get it, that she feels so alone. She asked me what I did to keep from going crazy. “You’re young”, she said. “They said it’s harder for me because I’m young. But you’re young too.”

I can’t quite remember everything I said to her. I mostly rambled… and patted her back. But I let her know that I’ve been sick for a long time and I think that readied me for this. Also—and I suspect this might not have helped a whole lot—I told her that I’ve been known to enjoy a good brawl. Cancer might not be something we can always defeat, but we can drop him on his ass for a round (or more) even if we lose teeth, boobs, hair, and friends we thought we had… in the match.

My response to her fed most of the previously cited poem, especially this bit:

if…
…misfortune claims [you]
craft wild new ways
to show your teeth—
make yourself fortunate
again, again, again…

 

I almost didn’t publish this post—I didn’t like some of the energy fueling it. Then, I remembered a poem bit I wrote three weeks or so ago… and changed my mind:

Malice wears masks
to keep from the looking glass
the worst of its rot.

The thought behind those three lines reminded me just how important it is to share certain terrible truths: there are too many people out there who use religion, social norms, and an individual’s state of mind to manipulate him or her into feeling like less. We can’t allow that kind of scum to think that we don’t know what they’re up to; or, that we can’t fight them. We can (and will) fight and defeat them! Together, we must show them that their self-righteousness won’t be allowed to suck the light out of our wonder and fierceness and hope and hunger… for life. We can see under their masks, can’t we? And we know that their sort is weak, weak, weak… even if their tongues can be dangerous (if we don’t cut them off). So… chop-chop-chop to you, despicable scum… first you choke, choke, choke… and then you are gone. 😉

 


My mastectomy incision starts at the center of my chest and ends about an inch into my axilla. The armpit stitches are uncomfortable and… painful. But the mastectomy pillow my Mother-in-Law crafted for me makes it all so much easier. The fabric is super gentle on my traumatized flesh and the pillow keeps the skin on skin (& hair, did I mention that I can’t shave?) contact from torturing me. Yay! for soft miracles.

That’s the thing about cancer and other horrors. They don’t only bring curses into our lives, they bring blessings too: they provide new reasons for us to love people we already loved, they help us start loving people we were not even sure we liked, and yes… troubling times of this sort help us get rid of maliciousness that pretends to be kindness. As Audre Lorde suggests, in The Cancer Journals, cancer can be “another weapon, unwanted but useful.” My armor keeps growing… stronger.

 

Trinkets and Armor, 7: You Say Horror and Shame, I Say Opportunity

“If life rips your heart out of your chest,
make something useful (even fun) out of the bloody mess.”
~ Magaly Guerrero

 

“Horrors and Shame”

I’ve searched my mirror
for the ugly,
for the incomplete,
for the unsexy
shadow of a woman you said would sprout out of the stitched chest separating me from death…

I’ve searched my mirror
for the horrors,
for the tears,
for the shame you said would pull the world from under me and turn wild laughter into screams…

I’ve searched my mirror
and found…
me, gloriously one-breasted,
curious about future comings… Me—
beautiful, grinning, whole
in ways some could never
imagine without help.

 

I searched your eyes
for something that could see
me, a woman ready…

I searched your depths for me
and I found… You—
the ugly,
the incomplete,
the unsexy shadow of a soul projecting
horrors and shame… you,
screaming at everyone (at everything)
you have no control
over.

 

…and now, Trinkets and Armor, 7:

My grandmother lost one eye when she was just a girl. People often asked her, “Why don’t you get a prosthesis?” She always answered their inquiry in the same way, “Why should I?” And their reaction was always the same: bafflement… as if they couldn’t understand her question. I, even as a wee child, couldn’t understand their confusion. I couldn’t even imagine my grandmother without her missing eye. In my mind’s and heart’s eye, my grandmother sprouted into being with only one eye, wearing a gray dress, smoking an old pipe, holding a broomstick that seemed glued to one of her hands, and eternally grinning at me in a way that suggested she had at least thirteen secrets that would make any person who learned them howl in pleasure (or fear). She was perfect, my grandmother… just perfect, a woman ready.

When I learned that my right breast would have to sacrifice herself so that I could live, I considered breast reconstruction. But after a bit of reading, a lot of thinking, and after discussing the issue with my Piano Man, I knew that reconstruction was not something I needed or wanted for my sexy flesh and bones and me. These days, I am often asked the same question my grandmother was asked decades ago: “Why don’t you get a prosthesis?” And yes, you have guessed it, my answer is the same as hers: “Why should I?” However, unlike my grandmother, I’ve never been one for short and sweet answers. So… yep, I tend to elaborate: “Why should I subject myself to more physical trauma (and the risk of infection), when I could use this opportunity to explore the different kinds of whole and determined and sexy and sexual… that can become part of body and soul after defeating a nasty monster?”

And yes, you are correct, if you’re thinking that my response gets the same sort of confused reaction my grandmother’s answer used to get. I’ve even been told, “But if you don’t cover that up, people will know” (the words are often accompanied by panicked and slightly disgusted looks). I just smile (fine, so that’s not quite true. I smirk in a not-so-gentle way… while wondering, How can this person live in such a tiny box without suffocating to death or at least screaming to be let out?)

Yesterday, I shared this blackout on Instagram and Facebook:
with a note which explains that I’ve been revisiting my old stuff… and loving the fact that I can find different meanings (and useful guidance) in my own words, that my body has been changed drastically by the effects of breast cancer, and that I can’t wait to explore the different ways in which my new shape is as interesting and stunning and as enjoyable *cough* as the old one. Yep, I shall delight in becoming my own curiosity (again).

The public comments to that post were pure positivity. The same was true for most of the private messages. But there is always one. So, of course, my Luvs, someone messaged me to kindly inform me that I shouldn’t feel too bad when the reality of my situation hit me, and I “realize[d] that cancer leaves everyone broken, ugly, and feeling nothing like a woman. It happens to all of us.” According to this bright ray of well-intended predictions, said realization would come right after my drains are removed and my wounds heal enough to allow me to have sex or even think of it.

I promise that I didn’t laugh (too hard) at the idea that this poor soul believes that a missing breast and a couple of drains could keep me from having sex for more than a day or three. After the roaring left my loins, I found the time to feel some pity for that person. No, not because they’re probably feeling ugly and unattractive (and are most likely not getting lucky enough to enjoy the deliciously healing endorphins that come with sex), but because someone must be truly rotten inside to attempt to spread their misery to another while pretending that all they want to do is help.

Regardless of how life and living make me look, I will never stop being beautiful or attractive. Not because I will find ways to make others see me in the way that I see my Self, but because I will always see me and want me. And when we see and want our Selves, so does the universe. And the universe is wise… it knows beauty will only abandon those who make themselves ugly through their own actions and thoughts. Act and think… beautiful, and you will always be. And yes, my Wicked Luvs, as always, by “you” I mean “me” (you, too, of course… if you want to be).

It’s a tad gloomy outside, but… inside me a fire burns deliciously bright!

day 5 (+1) after my unilateral mastectomy

 

This week, I wish to read poems or stories or any other creative sprouts (with your words in them) that explore your thoughts and feelings on body image: how you think of it, how you feel society thinks of it, how it affects your life (or not).

To participate in Trinkets and Armor, please add the direct link to your entry at the end of your comment. If you don’t have a blog or a public platform, or don’t wish to write a post, just add your contribution as a comment. If you can, take a minute to read other entries. Unrelated links will be deleted without explanation.

 

Linked to Poets United.