‘Do you have any idea what led to you getting cancer?’ I asked a friend.
'I was completely and utterly overwhelmed with grief,' she replied.
Her grief came first. Then her cancer.
It’s a common tale. Our baggage precedes our cancer.
After my cancer diagnosis, I figured out that in order to give myself the best chance of surviving, I needed to take a long, hard, uncomfortable look at my baggage. Here is some of the baggage I share in my soon-to-be- released memoir, Breastless.
Two when I thought I was going down in water,
Five when I pushed a boy off a slippery slide,
Six when I was forced to eat fish paste sandwiches,
And seven when I refused to apologise.
Eight when I got hair bobbles,
Ten when I guessed the number of jellybeans in the jar,
Eleven when my father showed me the meaning of friendship,
And twelve when I rode a wild brumby.
Thirteen when I learned how to inhale smoke without coughing,
Fourteen when I hung out with the cool group,
Fifteen when I called a nun a ‘fucking bitch',
And eighteen when I got worried about having a flat chest and big feet,
Twenty-five when a young man embarrassed me in a shoe shop,
Twenty-seven when I was given a patchwork quilt,
Twenty-eight when I got cracked nipples,
And thirty when I took a self-defence class.
Thirty-eight when a teenage girl told me she’d been raped by her father,
Forty-five when I noticed that my sister’s voice was changing,
Forty-six when I took my sister to a faith healer,
And forty-seven when I chose to have a big life.
Forty-nine when I cried for my sister,
Fifty-four when I walked the Larapinta Trail,
And went to “Cuspers” for the first time,
And found a thickening in my left breast…
This is my story.