Breast Cancer Bites. Kiss My Breast Good-bye.

Breast Cancer Bites. Kiss My Breast Good-bye.

I find myself on the merging ramp to a mastectomy and wishing to yield, for just a moment, before this breast becomes a blurred memory in the traffic flow of life.

She is the part I must release to protect the whole but she will not go without notice or appreciation for what she held space.

There is a body of experience in this sweet breast of mine. She and her sister were late bloomers. No doubt, I got that premature training bra because my mother was tired of fielding questions that always started with a whiny “When???”

As intimate partners go, both breasts have been first class beyond their champagne-glass classification. But she is the one that held space over my heart. For that I grieve her loss. I would love to kiss her for all that we’ve gone through together – but she is not that large nor I that agile.

Sound strange?

Our bodies are living, breathing temples that hold space for a fusion of body, mind and spirit – from the most elemental level to the most sublimely sacred that life has to offer. And each part speaks to aspects of experience that leave imprints – clues – as to how we maneuver through and integrate events from the significant to the mundane.

From the time she first popped onto the scene, this sweet gal of mine protected my heart from, as well as expressed it to, inexperienced curiosity seekers and seasoned explorers until she found the one who gave her no need to shield and every reason to expand into a union of body, heart and spirit.

She is visible, palpable evidence of an evolving woman’s journey into and through the greater portion of womanhood – edging into crone.

Granted, she does not hold the life-sustaining importance of a lung or heart but she holds emotion-sustaining space for what works – and what doesn’t – in choices made to love and nurture self and others. Choices for expression, play, creativity, sensation, flirtation, exhibition, pro-creation, courage, pride, compassion – just pull out a dictionary and read on. You will find a piece of her on every page.

She never nursed a child but experienced the loss of two miscarriages. She was with me through betrayal, reunion, divorce and death. She was present to those who honored and dishonored her, to those who gave love and withheld love. She registered the difference between body-to-body encounters and body-to-heart lovemaking.

Eaten away by cancer, she is not looking particularly attractive by today’s standards but she is beautiful to me, for she kept vigil at the altar of my heart.

And she is taking the hit for the cancer of disappointment, grief and good old-fashioned stress. Her final act of nurturing is one of surrender, as she and I hope to contain the damage with her removal. She will be replaced by a re-constructed stand-in, made to mimic her and topped off by a knotted piece of skin and tattooed nipple. (Somewhere, I hear Joni Mitchell singing, “They paved paradise and put up a parking lot … don’t it always seem to go that you don’t know what you’ve got ‘til its gone?”)

Trust me, though I joke, I do not feel flip about this loss – one that rides on the tails of an overlapping grief for Ray, who lost his battle with cancer in March. (See Life. Death. Breast Cancer.)

Surely there is a ritual fitting for this part of my body that represents sexuality and sensuality – courtesan and Madonna alike? This part of me that society deems a symbol of my femininity, both object and recipient of pleasure and sensual sensation that now speaks more to the simple pleasures found in life. Right now, it’s hard to register how I will respond when this part of my body is no longer able to feel the hot water from the shower or the itchy sweat from yard work, the pressing purr of one of my kitties or the clutching ache of grief.

So much in this world carries on without notice or appreciation – body parts included – until there is a failure or challenge in the system. After which, maybe, we wake up and realize how much we took for granted and strive to correct that with gratitude for what is left. (Kind of like people in our lives.)

Is this post self-indulgent? Perhaps. But you know what? I don’t care. Because, by now, I hope you realize that I am also casting light on LIFE and how we race through it – with or without body parts. There are too many precious moments lost in the flip of a calendar. Too many fast good-byes, the depth of which don’t register until it’s too late. This is one good-bye that will not be lost in the blurred shadow of cancer.

Indigenous cultures offer rites of passage marking significant transition points – and this gal of mine is going to get one. I don’t know what other women have done to mark the point of life-before and life-after cancer, but would love to hear any stories you are willing to share. And I mean that for any type of cancer or life altering dis-ease.

For now, I will savor her, throw her this virtual party (as well as one at the local coffee shop) and kiss her a mindful good-bye. She resisted gravity’s pull pretty darn good. I will strive to do the same without her.

For every bit of love that she now hands over to her sister and me – for every woman who lost or is losing this intimate partner, as well as any other – I kiss my breast and yours for what they held space. And, even if all your parts remain intact, take a moment to extend some gratitude with a little self-pampering, sweet ones.

Sharing is caring. If you found something here that inspired, you may know someone else who will feel the same. XO


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17 thoughts on “Breast Cancer Bites. Kiss My Breast Good-bye.

  • August 17, 2017 at 6:05 pm

    I can find nothing to say or write dear Bernadette. I am grieving with you. Accept my loving thoughts to you. xx

    • August 17, 2017 at 6:21 pm

      Grieving, yes, but CLAIMING also, as I shift my sensuality – mindfully – to the precious pieces left. There is a joyful sorrow and a sorrowful joy present, as Joseph Campbell says. But on September 7 … wear pink, honey. And have a cupcake for me. Wish you were here to kiss my breast! Love you! xoxo

      • August 19, 2017 at 7:10 pm

        I’ll wear pink and eat cupcakes and send prayers and much love as always.
        Damn! Bernadette! I do wish it was otherwise! What do those angels think they are doing eh? Get on the job here angels, you have work to do! They must get over me, though I do here them laugh. If I ran the world, things would be different!
        Well enough now. Had my little rant and God and the angels know me very well xxxx and a great big hug

  • August 17, 2017 at 6:42 pm

    Beautifully written…. i am without words,but know your grief…. your amazing any way you look ,your beautiful as you inside,not by looks lol… I have you in my prayers and sending much love ?????

    • August 17, 2017 at 6:49 pm

      Thank you, sweetie! Have a cupcake for me on the day and tag me a pic on Facebook! XO Love you!

  • August 17, 2017 at 10:04 pm

    Honest, touching and beautiful. Love you, my dear friend.

    • August 19, 2017 at 10:42 am

      Debra and Bernadette, having just gone thru this with my sister(-in-law), I enjoyed this writing and truly realized where you Bernadette are coming from. Thoughts and prayers during your journey but you are strong! You will win. Much love, Lynn S

      • August 20, 2017 at 3:23 pm

        Thank you, Lynn. And prayers continue for your sister (-in law) to rise in HER healing journey. I am guaranteed not to wander too far “off path” with Debra watching! Love! XO

  • August 17, 2017 at 10:45 pm

    Ah, Bernadette, your attitude is just what we would expect. Carry on, sweet Lady, Fight like a Woman.

    • August 20, 2017 at 3:25 pm

      Thank you, Theresa! As long as I can pray and write my way through healing, I am good! 😉

  • August 18, 2017 at 11:52 am

    Such Beauty in your words! Yes you are a warrior–so brave and inspiring!
    I believe that you are the Phoenix rising out of the ashes of all your sorrow.
    Love you.

    • August 20, 2017 at 3:26 pm

      Oh … I love that imagery of the Phoenix, Kathryn! Love you, too! XO

  • September 3, 2017 at 11:17 am

    Love you, and send beautiful breast love on it’s way out. Each time I read your blogs, it reminds me of my sister and all the emotions she went through…so many I don’t even know, and it just makes me fill with love for her, for you and all who are touched by something so incredibly overwhelming, such as cancer and other illness. Sending love, light, healing energy and tons of joy. Namaste my friend!

    • September 4, 2017 at 7:37 pm

      Heather, I SO LOVE that these blogs are expanding the love! This is why I am writing them and it is always nice to know when one “hits the mark.” Thank you. Much love to your sister and prayers for her continued courage. We each have our challenges but the light we share along the way makes the time we spend here one that raises us all up. Love you, sweet soul friend! XO

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  • November 8, 2017 at 9:50 pm

    Beautiful, powerful, sad, and yet, I feel you rising. You are such an inspiration Bernadette. Sending you the embrace of my spirit animal, the owl, with her enormous wings to wrap around you. So much love, Margaret

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