It’s ok to stare

I have one breast. A single large D-cup breast. This is not something you see every day, if ever.

The other day I noticed a lot of people staring at my chest. At what wasn’t there. I wondered when is it too much? When is staring invasive and rude? Where is the line?

Maybe there is no line. Maybe there’s nothing wrong with staring at something you don’t understand. Maybe that’s how we try to make sense of things we see.

Yes, sometimes I feel self conscious, embarrassed, and exposed. But people shouldn’t have to act as if it’s common and something seen every day, because it’s not. Having only one breast is not normal. There is extreme pressure for women to look a certain way, and when we go against that grain it is glaringly obvious. I made a decision that I’m 100% comfortable with but that doesn’t mean I don’t have feelings about it, too. Big feelings.

I have never seen another woman with one breast, but I know they’re out there. I know I’m not the only one. There is some comfort in knowing that I am not blazing some new path here. I am on a similar path as many, many women before me who don’t hide that they have one breast, even if I have never seen them or met them.

So it’s ok to stare. It’s ok to double take. It’s ok to be confused. It’s ok to wonder why someone has one breast. It’s not rude to stare. Stare if you need to stare, take it in, and learn something from it. Ask questions if you want to. Don’t be ashamed to look. It’s ok.

 

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How do you think I feel?

I hate this. I hate radiation. Every day, five days a week, I lay on a table for fifteen minutes and think about having cancer. And every day, I’m flooded with emotions. I am sad. 

How do I know this is going to keep the cancer from coming back? How do I know that it’s not already in my liver? In my brain? In my lymph nodes? As long as I have to have daily radiation, I’m reminded of all of my fears. 

We opened our new business this week, a restaurant and bakery. So many people are coming in. I don’t know all of them, but they know me, and they know I am being treated for cancer. They know Amelia and I because we owned a bar until recently, and many of them have also been following my blog. My hair is growing back a little, but it’s still obvious that I had chemo. I feel exposed. 

All of the above was written by Amelia. I wanted to know what she thought I was feeling so she wrote it from my perspective. She knows me well enough to be able to write as me. Almost.

I don’t hate radiation, but hate is a word I carelessly use. At my core I just don’t believe in hate.

Radiation sucks. I don’t like it, and yes I think about cancer while I lie on that table listening to some sappy soft rock song piped in. Today it was Time After Time, Tuesday it was Just Breathe, Monday it was Landslide.  -sigh-

Cancer has brought out the sadness in me. I have known sadness too well in my life. Right now, cancer is about loss: body part, hair, any sense of control. Loss, left unchecked, can sometimes turn into sadness, but not always. (I lost my credit card the other day – I was not sad. Pissed off? Yes.)

Yes, I think about cancer recurrence. Aches and pains have a whole new meaning to me now. My neck hurts. Is it in my lymph nodes? My ribs are sore. Is it in my bones? I see a bright spot in my vision. Is it in my brain? Then I forget about it, because we’re busy starting a new business.

There’s yet another level of feelings about cancer when you’re opening a restaurant. We are already fairly well-known in our community, and I’ve been very public about cancer. There are a lot of people that I don’t know who are genuinely concerned about my well-being, asking questions – just being really real and it hits me hard sometimes. I found myself in the restaurant kitchen with tears in my eyes a few times this week. The caring was too much. It shined a light on me that I am not quite ready for.

I feel like I was partially erased during the past seven months. I disappeared from the public view, and now I’m back. And it’s different. I’m different. This is what starting over feels like.