For me, radiation therapy came a year into my treatment. I received my diagnosis on the first of February 2017, after a hectic week of being rushed around having tests. I knew before the GP told me what the answer was: the urgency told me everything. Knowing but not knowing was the first of many challenges I was to face.
One of the biggest challenges has been dealing with having major changes to my body thrust upon me, and radiation was a big part of that challenge. I’m going to walk you through the story of my diagnosis and treatment in that context. The team at ROC Springfield helped me to maintain a positive mindset and to feel better about what was happening to me.
A little bit of background: since adolescence, my breasts have been a big part of how the world has reacted to me, and how I have presented myself to the world. I was one of those girls whose body matures way ahead of the rest of them. I was happily oblivious to my body as a child but naturally energetic and active. The way I remember it my boobs arrived suddenly, without me noticing, although of course that’s not true. I just wasn’t paying attention.
My first bra, age 12, was a C cup. I overheard my grandmother joking to my mother that my cup runneth over, and was mortified. I was a D cup age 13. I was teased so much about getting a black eye when I ran, I gave up sports.
I was a DD cup at age 14, when I was sent to an all-girls school. I thought everyone was being friendly, coming to say hello. I later found out they were all flocking to see the new girl with big boobs. They nicknamed me Dolly Parton. I was grateful: another girl similarly blessed was called Community Chest.
It’s really no exaggeration to say that getting boobs, and discovering how the world reacted to them, changed my relationship to my body. Instead of being cheerfully oblivious, I became ashamed and judgemental, but nonetheless attached (ha ha). Facing the prospect of losing one or both of them was one of the hardest parts of that initial diagnosis.