Cancer · Family · Life

Non-traditional tradition

When I was that age when everything is annoying, I remember my poor mom had to take me on a short road trip twice a year. It wasn’t fun for either of us and, although I don’t remember it specifically happening, I was probably a complete jerk about it. You know, because kids are the worst. 

Anyway, once in the winter and once right before summer my mom would make me load into the car so we could drive to the special mastectomy store. I remember it as being a ridiculously long way away. It was probably about an hour drive. We would go in and I would sit in a metal chair in the corner and wait. I’d wait while my mother scoured the racks for bras or bathing suits she could afford. I’d wait as my sweet mother agonized over the things she didn’t want to wear but had to wear. I remember her saying how expensive everything was. I remember the stress in her eyes. I remember being flippant about it. I had little to no empathy for how scary and frustrating and aggravating it was for my mother to go through this. There were other shopping trips made awful by my mother’s “condition,” but these had become a sort of tradition. One that I hated as a child and now feel extraordinary guilt about because I certainly didn’t make them easier. 

Last week I went to my very own version of that store. It’s the same sort of place. It’s a bit more comfortable and clearly gives the shoppers the experiences of security and privacy.  It was about a 45 minute drive, and although Daughter was along for the trip, she got to go play with friends while I brought a bestie with me into the shop itself. I was scared and uncomfortable. I didn’t know what to expect. There was a wall of prostheses boxed in the corner and I was amazed that they hadn’t changed since the 80’s. Even though it intimidated me, I asked to hold one of the prostheses they had, one like I will be getting in a few weeks. I wanted to know what my new skin would feel like. I was shown my prescription, post surgical top and everything was explained. One was ordered in my size. This week I will go in to pick it up and to look at other things. 

So, as soon as my new top comes in, Daughter will come with me on a trip to the mastectomy store. We’ve talked about it and I’ve promised to make the journey fun. It’s a family tradition now, I guess, and one I hope ends with me. 

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