Several years ago now, my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. What had seemed infinitesimal to the touch, and maybe the size of a grape in the sonogram, turned out to be the size of a large marble when it came out. The news came back as the big “M”: malignant. Being Jews, we typically follow the old adage, “if you don’t laugh, you’ll cry,” so we spent months hugging, consoling, but also laughing and focusing on the wonders of boobs.
My mother’s lumpectomy had gone well, and they kept her overnight. In the morning, they said that she was recovering nicely, and that we could take her home, provided we adhered to certain rules. If we had any questions, we could refer to a flier that Memorial Sloan Kettering kept on hand. We packed my little 4’11 Jewish mother up, tucked her comfortably into the car, and drove carefully from Manhattan back to Brooklyn. When we got home, she asked about the flier.
“So? What does it say?” She asked. I read off all the same instructions they’d given us at the hospital. If we had any questions, we were welcome to call… The Breast Fellow.
“WHAT?!” I yelled in mock anger, “there’s some dude out there feeling up boobs for a LIVING?! Do OTHER men know about this?!…. do you think he gets Dental insurance with that job?” My mom started laughing.
“It’s a very respectable job, Hannah!” She giggled.
Vinnie The Tit Guy
“Don’t lie! Every time you tell a lie, Jesus kicks a kitten! (yeah, I really do say that.) I bet it’s some guy who works there, he’s probably a janitor or something, and totally has the doctors convinced that he knows what he’s doing! I bet his name is Vinnie! VINNIE THE TIT GUY!!” My mom was laughing so hard at this point that she started hiccuping. “Mom! Mom, you can’t be serious about this! You wanna call Vinnie the Tit Guy?! I’m pretty sure he’ll just roll up to the house, give a couple of good squeezes, and call it a day. OH! How hard is life for poor Vinnie?! I myself am a penis enthusiast! Do I get a job?! I wanna be the Dick Dame!”
She Had Beautiful Breasts
Maybe this next part is going to sound odd, but go with me. My mother had generally been comfortable being nude around me. Let’s face it: a single mom, a daughter… after a while I think she just felt like, “meh, whatever,” and took her top off whenever she felt like it (though thankfully, never around my friends). My mother had beautiful breasts. She’s a soft, voluptuous, beautiful woman. In fact, when I was little, I used to look at the children of skinny women in my neighborhood and feel sorry for them; their moms were all bony, but mine was soft, and lovable, and huggable. Looking back, I’m sure she wished she had been skinny too, but as a kid at the time, her softness just meant warmth and love to me. Her breasts matched that, and she was soft and round, and perfectly proportioned to her body.
Before the surgery.
After the surgery, one breast was soft and remained the same, while the other one had harsh scars near the nipple, which now pointed down because of the location of the tumor and where the doctors had to cut. To try and make her laugh about it, I used to call her “Tit-acular!” but the more time passed, the more she felt ashamed of her breast. She would cover up more and more, and told me that she felt “deformed” and “ugly.”
A Reminder Of What She’s Overcome
I tried explaining to her that the most beautiful thing about those scars was that they were the sign that she had gone through the surgery safely, but in retrospect, I understand where she’s coming from. We all want stunning, perfect, soft, alluring, magnificent mammaries. We get breast implants, we get push-up bras, and even little shoulder-pad looking thingies to shove into the bottom of a regular bra, to push all your business way the fuck in everyone’s face. They have to be round, but not too round, soft but firm, large but not obscene… and the list goes on. I, personally, have a full size B cup, but it changes depending on the time of the month. My breasts are also warm and soft, and sometimes it feels so nice lightly touching the skin just south of my decollete, that I’ll find myself doing it in the office, and have to stop. Still, despite the size, proportion, or anything else about my own breasts, I still think my mother has one set of magnificent mams: one is a history of what she was born with, and one is a reminder of what she’s overcome.
The Male Mentality
As women, we get so caught up trying to figure out what will physically attract a mate, that we sometimes forget that what others see can be much, much more than what we see ourselves. I once asked my husband if he would still be attracted to me if I had those same scars. I wanted his answer to be “I married you for you, not your boobs!” Of course, what I got was more, “Hannah, I am just so happy to get to see boobs on a regular basis, that if one looks a little different, I’ll just pretend I get to do it with TWO chicks!”
Ladies and gentlemen, that’s the male mentality. From where I stand though, your mams are glam!! And remember, if ever you feel that your breasts don’t match up to Hollywood standards, Vinnie the Tit Guy is somewhere around, ready and waiting to show his appreciation! No matter the size or shape, be proud of your girls… just try not to touch them in the middle of client meetings. I swear!: it was an accident!!