I've been learning on the job since February 1, 1989. It's high time I started sharing what I've learned!

The Girls

I’ve never really liked my breasts. I mean when you get them at age 12 and they’re full grown before you are, it can be a challenge. The boys couldn’t keep their eyes off of them, and the girls, well… the girls were girls. They acted like I had acquired the breasts specifically to make them look flatter. So I spent the majority of my teen years trying to figure out how to dress so boys wouldn’t keep looking down when we were talking and so girls wouldn’t shun me because of the size of my boobs. I have remained self-conscious about tight tops, v-necks, and scoops to this day. I also shy away from hugs since being told a long, long time ago that boys were just copping a feel…

I remember being fourteen and waterskiing on Lake Winnepasaukee. We were in New Hampshire for our annual week vacation with four other families. I was dreadfully near-sighted, and, not wearing my glasses, I couldn’t see whatever it was that my brother and his friend had hung off the back of the boat. It wasn’t until we’d circled the lake twice and waved to plenty of other pleasure boaters that we docked and I saw my 36C bra hanging, limply now, from the flagpole. Sure, the boys got in trouble, but I’m sure they’ve forgotten all about it while I still blush like it happened yesterday.

But times have changed and these days it’s not just men that think breasts are cool. My two girls LOVE their breasts. They actually call them “the girls.” They are proud of them, comfortable with them, and incredibly attached to them. And I have lots of friends who cherish their breasts whether they grew them or designed them.

I’ve watched women go through the gruesome struggle with breast cancer since before I had my own. In fact, my great-grandmother died from it when my dad was still a bachelor. And my mom found it the year after I graduated from college…just three weeks after my (now) husband’s mom was diagnosed.

My mom was 50; my mother-in-law 46; my great-grandmother 51. I’m 48.

Every October I make my appointment. I watch the technician closely. I wait for the call. I sigh with relief when the form letter arrives. I pledge to appreciate my breasts for another year. I remember the amazement I felt when our babies shook with joy at the prospect of them. I grudgingly smile at my husband’s undiminished fascination with them. I sit with my friend as she endures another round of chemo. And I ache.

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