This week I am beginning the process of introducing a project special to my heart. Unlike my usual titles, WHERE WOULD YOU LIKE YOUR NIPPLE? isn’t fiction. It’s a slice of my real life. A survivor’s guide to navigating the breast cancer abyss with humor and hope, it’s my celebration at reaching five years of survival. But it’s more than that. It’s also my attempt to hold out a guiding hand to both the victims of this senseless disease and their loved ones.
For those who don’t know, I am one of eight kids and my younger sister, number Six in the birth order, was diagnosed with breast cancer a month before me. We fought our battles together. In the following six lines, I ponder the coincidence of the two of us being diagnosed so closely together.
I know this is a heavy subject, folks, but don’t worry. If you know me, you know the battle was not without laughter.
We slept in the same bed as little girls and the same room for most of our teenage years. We attended school together and enjoyed many of the same extra-curricular activities. When you and a sibling are diagnosed with the same cancer within a month of each other, you start wondering if environment might be the cause. Was there lead in the paint where our bed was in the hallway dormer when we were little, or toxic chemicals in the water of that swimming pool where we camped when we were in our teens? Personally, I think there was something in the soap we used to scrub the kitchen floor every Saturday morning when Six and I were assigned that unfair chore.
I’m telling you, Six, we should have protested harder over that injustice.
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