2am lives in your corner of your mind. It nudges you during those hazy sleep moments. It’s the place where you remember every embarrassing thing you ever did. It’s a host to every insecurity and anything unfinished. It’s not quite like a parasite. More like cat hair on your face. You know it’s there, but you just can’t brush it away.
Tonight, 2am lives in a pathology report. The cancer – my cancer – was only in my right breast. According to my pathology report, my left breast was taken prophylactically. I have 0 memory of agreeing to that. Worse, I don’t remember being asked. It was up to me. It’s my damn body. It was a major part of who I was. I’m not made of disposable parts to be discarded. Amputated. My choice and opinions matter when it comes to my body, and being carved up like a Christmas ham is completely unacceptable.
Because of that disposable left breast, I developed cellulitis. I was awarded an 8 day vacation in hospital room, stocked with hazy drugs where its always 2am. That 2am was sadly a relief. The surgeon was able to get clean margins and remove 2 benign tumors. Must have been closer to 3am instead.
My grandfather, S. and his brothers mastered in the art of machismo and believing men were superior to women. When his SIL developed breast cancer at 36 and had a mastectomy, his reaction was indifference. “Cut ’em off. No big deal.” Absolutely no consideration for her as a woman. A very young woman, at that. But then his brother developed prostate cancer. The doctors told him his best course of action was to remove one testicle. Every man in my family lost their minds.
“Women go thru losing their breasts. Like you said ‘cut em off’.
“But he’s a man. This is who he is. A woman would never understand.”
Is that what happened? The same situation as telling your surgeon to remove all excess skin and, no, you don’t want reconstruction. Then you wake up and he’s left quite a bit of skin because…why? Because he knows best? Because you’re in a fragile state and he knows you’ll change your mind and want reconstruction? Because the surgeon arrogantly thinks it’ll be best to just be done with both breasts?
“Don’t worry your pretty little head. Think of it this way…you get new boobs out of it. You’ll feel like your old self.”
Right now, 2am lives in a place of pain. It houses fear and is built on a strong foundation of confusion and belittling. The walls are painted in shades of relief mixed with anger, emptiness and loss.
3:04am. I just need to get some sleep. It’s 2am somewhere…