Let’s Go (The double mastectomy)

January 10th, 2011 § 10 comments

January 30, 2009

I had two surgeons that day:
one just wasn’t enough for the job.

The surgical oncologist would take away,
the reconstructive surgeon would begin to put back.

Before I headed off into my slumber,
I stood as one marked me with purple marker.

He drew,
he checked,
he measured.

And then a laugh,
always a laugh to break the tension:
Surgeons must initial the body part to be removed to ensure
they remove the correct one.

But what if you are removing both?

How silly to sign twice,
we agreed.

And yet he did,
initialing my breasts with his unwelcome autograph.

The edges of the yellow fabric measuring tape he used
had purple fingerprints up and down their sides;
use after use had changed their hue.

And now it was my turn to go under the knife–
a few more purple prints on the tape.

I got marked many a time by him that year.

Endless rounds of
purple dots,
and lines
punctuating my body
with their strange, secret blueprint
only those wearing blue understood.

We stood in front of mirrors
making decisions in tandem
as to how my body should and would take new shape.

Two years today and counting.

Moving forward.
Sometimes crawling,
sometimes marching,
and sometimes just stopping to rest
and take note of my location.

Numb inside and out,
but determined.

often melancholy.

Here comes another year
to put more distance
it and me.

Let’s go.

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§ 10 Responses to Let’s Go (The double mastectomy)"

  • Michele says:

    Your combination of humor, determination and a positive outlook is downright inspiring.

  • Joe W says:

    I’m so glad I know you and follow this blog, Lisa.

  • Elly Lou says:

    Oh my heart. Absolutely beautiful. The purple fingerprints….

    It’s funny how these anniversaries haunt, isn’t it? Ok not funny but… Let’s just leave it at that was a beautiful post.

    • Elly Lou, I shared this piece with my reconstructive surgeon… that is exactly the image that struck him– the purple fingerprints. There is another piece I am re-posting this week about the tape measure… and the day it came home in my purse. You may like that one as well. Thanks for reading!

  • Mary Helen says:

    Lisa, I love your writing and I think what you’re doing — sharing your experience so openly — is so important. Thank you for all you do!

  • Joanne Firth says:

    ……”punctuating my body” Here’s to another year between you and this day. Thank you for all you have done, all that you do and all that you are.

  • Becky says:

    It makes me more than just a little happy to know you go through all the emotions that you go through — I’m sure that might sound weird, but emotions make us human and humans make the best superheros!
    I love you bunches.

  • I can’t believe this. I had a very similar experience to yours. But in my case, I lost two thirds of my nose. I had two surgeries in one day: the first, to remove the cancer, and then we had to drive to another surgeon’s office, me with bandages all over, to begin the reconstruction process. I was awake for both surgeries for a total of three hours. The first doctor told me not to look at my nose, but the plastic surgeon forced me to look at the ruin that was my face. It was a horrible day. I had two more surgeries and two laser procedures, but I look basically the same now, two years later! Cancer. It is horrible. But we both made it. Today is my 61st birthday, and I am very happy. Love to you, dear Lisa. molly

  • Laura says:

    I can’t imagine…I have known people affected by breast cancer. Was just walking down the art wing today, and they had a display of nude art–first thing I thought of reading this. Bodies are so much a part of who we are; I’m glad you can write about your experience and struggle so clearly. Your poem is wistful and optimistic at the same time; it really shows strength.

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