My mother always forbade me to cut off my breasts. It was something we went back and forth on frequently. I saw what the breast cancer had done to her the first and second time and what she had went through in her mastectomy, so I told her that if the opportunity came, I’d have them removed. My mother would literally raise her finger to me, snarl and order me not to do it, simply for the sake of doing it.
I never promised her I wouldn’t.
On January 11th, 2009, I was driving into Oklahoma City as fast as I could to find the airport. The kids and I were traveling from California to Michigan to be with my mom as we knew the end was near. I had just purchased tickets online via my smartphone to get back home sooner because all I was told was that “it’s happening fast.”
Lindsay and I shared a very intimate conversation on the phone that night about what I was about to face. At that point, our friendship had experienced our corporate jobs, our weddings, the birth of 3 of our kids, two Expressing Motherhood shows and the death of a dear, loved friend.
It’s been four years since cancer took my mother from me. In those four years of my own motherless mothering, not only did Lindsay and I finish producing the six children we have between us, but we have produced 9 additional shows, one of which I performed in about my grief.
Expressing Motherhood has been a platform that has given me confidence to share about my own personal experiences as well as stay the creative woman that I am. With that creativity, I’ve started a non-profit and my family and I have held a charity 5k run/walk annually in my hometown to raise money for breast cancer research. I’m gearing up to lead the 5th Annual Rose Run. It’s hard to believe time has gone so fast.
I’m 34 years old. I’ve had two mammograms and am scheduling my first breast MRI this week.
In November, at my yearly checkup, my OB/GYN suggested I make the time to get the BRCA test done to check for gene mutations. She said, “If it’s positive, I’m going to be pushing you to get rid of your breasts, as well as your ovaries.” I sat there practically naked in complete silence. I couldn’t answer her because I knew I had to do it but the reality sat heavy on me.
It was here. The time when this decision was going to be mine, and my mother wasn’t here to point her finger and beg me not to.
I took the test that day in the office and waited four weeks for the results.
I have no gene mutations.
Now I can place another milestone marker on the friendship path that belongs to Lindsay and I. I called her shortly after the test and let her know the results. I heard her sigh and say, “Good.”
It doesn’t mean I’m free and clear of ever getting breast cancer, or any other cancer for that fact. It means that I wont be removing my breasts any time soon.
My mother would be very happy.