Elephants and Tea - December 2019 - 23

INTIMATE ISSUES WITH MARLOE

Sexuality

Dearest Breasts,
Well girls, what can I say?
I guess I owe you an apology. I'm sorry it took me so damn long to love you for what you were.
Remember when I was little, and I ran around with balled up napkins and water balloons under my shirt? And then, in middle
school, I got so impatient for your arrival that I improvised for a few years. Oh, how I waited, and waited, and waited for you guys to
make your appearance! But even when you finally came around, I was always sort of holding out hope for just a little more of you...
My proud feminist heart now aches for that girl - the one who fell prey to all those bullsh*t messages about what beauty is
supposed to be, those stupid unattainable expectations that made me feel like you weren't enough. I realize now, of course, that
you were perfect for me. I never meant to make you feel inadequate. I guess I just didn't understand yet that cleavage isn't the
defining characteristic of what it means to be pretty, or loveable, or even sexy. And anyways, if I hadn't come to that conclusion at this point in my life, I think this whole cutting-off-my-boobs-for-cancer business would probably be the defining
moment of recognition that there's a lot more to being a strong, fierce, beautiful woman than a couple of mammary glands.
Although, I suppose, even if you don't define me, you are still a part of me. And there will probably be times in the
future where I'll really wish you were still, you know, hanging around. Like, for example, if I ever end up growing some
Esch kiddos that are gonna need to get fed. I mean, isn't that what you were made to do? Breastfeeding seems totally
amazing! I sort of always pictured myself absolutely loving to breastfeed. All that oxytocin and baby bonding, blah
blah blah. Seriously though, couldn't you have waited to develop cancer until after you at least did the job you were
meant to do for the continuation of our species? You suck.
I'm sorry you'll never have a chance to sag. I'd like to think of saggy boobs as a sign of a good, long, well-lived
life. Reminds me of an elderly woman I was helping get dressed at work a while back, who systematically picked
each breast up off her abdomen and placed it in the corresponding bra cup. She had a rose tattoo on one, and it
had stretched over the years with the sag of her breasts. She told me matter-of-factly that "it might be a longstem rose now, but it wasn't when I got it!" and then laughed at her own joke. She and that rose have probably
had a lot of good times together. It's sort of depressing that I'll never get the chance to grow a long stem
rose with you. Maybe you also would have grown some nipple hairs in your old age? Now we'll never know.
Don't forget that I tried to save you by choosing a lumpectomy and radiation. I really wish that would
have been the end of it. But after testing the tumor, they said chemotherapy was necessary if I wanted to
be sure all microscopic cancer cells were executed. And then halfway through chemo? They said I should
really consider getting rid of you if I didn't want to get another breast cancer and go through all of this
all over again. Apparently, if I keep you around, it isn't so much a matter of if I'll get diagnosed again,
but when. And next time it might be in my lymph nodes, or liver, or lungs, or bone, or brain. If I let you
do that, what kind wife, daughter, sister, oncology nurse would I be? A stupid one, that's what. I love you,
but not enough to risk it.
So, I guess this is good-bye. If you hadn't tried to kill me, we wouldn't be having this conversation right now.
I mean, I get that it's not all your fault - we can blame the gene mutation I inherited, I suppose. I guess we didn't
really have a chance. Well, it's been fun, and we've had some good times. (Remember all those free drinks we got in college?
Those were the days!) You taught me a lot, but it's over. We're through. I'm moving on without you. I hope you understand.
And just so you know - I will never, ever, love my new boobs as much as I loved you.

"I'm sorry
you'll never
have a chance
to sag. I'd like
to think of saggy
boobs as a sign
of a good, long,
well-lived life."

Very sincerely yours,
Marloe

M A R L OE E S C H, B SN, R N, O C N, A N D YOU NG A DU LT C A NC E R SU RV I VOR , GR A DUAT E D F ROM
T H E U N I V E R SI T Y OF W IS C ONSI N-M A DIS ON S C HO OL OF N U R SI NG (G O BA D GE R S!) I N 2 0 0 8 . A N
E N T H USI A S T IC SU PP ORT E R OF SE X UA L H E A LT H A N D W E L L N E S S , SH E H A S H A D T H E OPP ORT U N I T Y
TO SPE N D T I M E I N H E R C OM M U N I T Y E DUC AT I NG - B OT H SU RV I VOR S A N D H E A LT HC A R E
PROF E S SIONA L S ON T H E TOPIC OF C A NC E R A N D SE X UA L I T Y, I NC LU DI NG PR E SE N T I NG FOR T H E
YOU NG SU RV I VA L C OA L I T ION, T H E ONC OL O GY N U R SI NG S O C I E T Y W IS C ONSI N C A PI TOL C H A P T E R ,
A N D PL A N N E D PA R E N T HO OD OF W I. SH E HOL DS A C E RT I F IC AT E F ROM T H E SE X UA L H E A LT H
C E RT I F IC AT E PRO GR A M T H ROUGH T H E U N I V E R SI T Y OF M IC H IG A N, T R A I N I NG I N B OT H SE X UA L I T Y
E DUC AT ION A N D SE X UA L I T Y C OU NSE L I NG , A N D H A S M A DE I T H E R M IS SION TO BR I NG SE X I N TO T H E
SU RV I VOR SH I P SP OT L IGH T.

ELEPHANTSANDTEA.COM
DECEMBER 2019

23


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Elephants and Tea - December 2019

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Elephants and Tea - December 2019

Contents
Elephants and Tea - December 2019 - Cover1
Elephants and Tea - December 2019 - Cover2
Elephants and Tea - December 2019 - 1
Elephants and Tea - December 2019 - Contents
Elephants and Tea - December 2019 - 3
Elephants and Tea - December 2019 - 4
Elephants and Tea - December 2019 - 5
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Elephants and Tea - December 2019 - Cover3
Elephants and Tea - December 2019 - Cover4
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