The Palm Beach Post from West Palm Beach, Florida on December 10, 1976 · Page 26
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The Palm Beach Post from West Palm Beach, Florida · Page 26

West Palm Beach, Florida
Issue Date:
Friday, December 10, 1976
Page 26
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c ancer My raised consciousness about death has somewhat raised my consciousness about life. There is, I find, a recurring jingle in my head: Am I doing what I'd want to be doing if I were dying? When the answer is no, I don't always act on it, but sometimes I do. More and more I do. I have made death's acquaintance. And however horrendous and premature that meeting was, I think it will have softened the shock of our eventually living together, whenever that happens. I hope it won't be soon. Because the peek at death has given me some new information about life, all which has made me better at it than I was before. And, with some more practice, I could get better still. If I don't have a recurrence of cancer and die soon, all I've lost is a breast, and that's not so bad. last 3 days! OUR ENTIRE STOCK OF NORITAKE DINNERWARE IS REDUCED 20 TO 40 Casual china, stoneware, ironstone, white and ivory translucent china. . .all are now at savings. Save 20 on our open stock selection too. Hurry in today! Rurdines lflorfda From Bl it were one of those advertisements usually, in bed, before I go to sleep. DEATH, says the banner, floating by in a soft wind. It comes at night, hanging from a plane; then it moves along. I don't really believe that I will die. It's funny, I still don't think it can happen to me. Okay, I think, okay, the scythe nicked me. What's-his-name up there made a little mistake. Accidents happen. But that's it. I've had my accident. Nobody gets hit by a car twice. Of course, people with cancer usually do. True, people with breast cancer and clear lymph nodes usually don't. But two cancers are still more likely than two car accidents. Ah, well, I suppose I will breathe easier when three years are up (even two that's when most recurrences happen), and meanwhile, as they say, you learn to live with it. Fact is, I'm the same car I always was, except now I have a dent in my fender. Of course, I tend to over-dramatize some of my (mostly imagined) personality changes. The other day, for example, I was running off at the mouth about one aspect of my new character to my mother. "I'm a lot more impatient now," I said to her earnestly. "I don't want to waste time. I don't want to speak to people I don't want to speak to, or be with people I don't want to be with. I'm less polite than I used to be." "But sweetheart," said my mother gently, "you were never polite." There are some changes, though not in personality, not in character, as I would sometimes like to think - but in the way I see certain things now, in perspective. This, I know, is trite, but it is on one's mind, the problems of life, no matter how great or how niggling, loom less large. When things go well nowadays, I feel as happy as I ever felt before the operation. But the converse has altered remarkably. When things go badly, I definitely suffer less. A personal hurt, a screw-up at work - such things bother me less now, much less. - CALL . J o GREAT GIFTS O T EACH He went back into the other room while I put my bra and prosthesis and blouse on. "I'll walk you out to where you can get a taxi," said Lee, who was really very sweet. We walked down a long corridor and up to the main floor and out the door. I got into a taxi. "Thanks very much," I said. "Goodby." "Goodby," he said, with a nice grin, bending down so that he could see me through the car window. "There's just one thing," he said. "We have had a couple of problems with these things. Uh - if it leaks, just let me know." And the car sped away. It is nine months since my left breast plus 10 axillary lymph nodes were removed from my body. When I took a shower this morning, I shaved under my arms and I could feel, really feel, the razor on the skin of my left underarm. Since that has happened, I keep grabbing myself under the arm, like a baby who has just discovered her genitals. I am, as my mother would say, my old self. Almost entirely. I am reasonably spirited, but no longer manic. (Or depressive.) I am tearing around again for NBC News the way I used to, which feels normal and good. And, generally, life is moving at much the same pace as it always has: fast. As for my body, I am no longer so obsessed with the mirror-mirror-on-the-wall stuff. This is not to say I think I have a keen-looking chest, or that I enjoy being touched or touching myself there. It still repulses me to do that. And I still don't prance around naked. And sometimes when I am naked and catch sight of my body's left profile in the mirror and see the narrow, lumpy tube that is my torso, it still makes me swallow hard. So I swallow hard. There are worse things. Besides, I may get plastic surgery. Meanwhile, the prosthesis from Michigan hasn't leaked yet and the nipple sticks out nicely. (For three hundred dollars, says Arthur,, it ought to stick out.) But it is slightly droopier than my other side and it itches slightly and, worst of all, it is such a bother! Gluing it on, pulling it off - or even shoving it in and out of a bra - is like having an extra set of teeth to brush twice a day. It's too much work to do that forever. The plastic surgery has one of those names: augmentation mammo-plasty. Essentially, it involves the same sort of silicone implant that topless dancers get. (Given my shape, "topless" suddenly strikes rue as a very odd way to describe those ladies. Imagine if the droqling butter-and-egg men who go to see those shows got an eyeful of a real topless dancer.) Kven without plastic surgery, I still think I'm pretty, and, in clothes, as sexy as before. I feel sexy in bed, too. but less so than before. I do miss the absent equipment, even if Arthur says he doesn't (and I think he does, no matter what he says). And when a strange man gives me a long look on the street or in an airplane or at a party, I do think, "What if he knew what I really look like?" As for other people, when I see somebody surveying my chest, instead of feeling bad the way I used to, I just say, "It's the left one." And then I keep on talking, in case they're embarrassed. Most of these concerns are minor, of course, compared to my worries (not incessant, but daily) about the recurrence of cancer and death. For the most part, I don't think about death directly. I mean I don't sit around trying to imagine it or anything like that. It just crosses my mind, sometimes like a banner, as if FOR LAWN and Ornamental Spraying Chinch Bugs and other Lawn Problem Phone 585-2551 5311 Georgio Ay., W P B A. WHAT A MUG! Handcrafted earthenware beer mug with be-whiskered face. Brown with lead-free glaze. Housewares 10.00 B. CORNING DUO, with cornflower pattern. IV2 pt. saucepan, 6V2" skillet. Microwave safe. Housewares 10.00 C. 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