Leigh Anne Jasheway’s 26-Minute Memoir

My dog had a lumpectomy yesterday. Like mother, like daughter, I guess. Hopefully, she’ll get the same results I always luckily do – benign. Although she is allowed to bite the vet and still get a cookie after, so she’s already doing better than I usually do.

To say my breasts are lumpy like saying the Empire State Building is tall or the South is hot in the summer. In fact, if not for lumps, I’m fairly certain I’d still be wearing the same cup size as the batteries in my digital camera. I wouldn’t mind these knotty boobs of mine if not for the fact that once a year someone in the medical profession tries to scare me with them.

“We found a lump,” a technician will tell me after my mammogram.

“I bet you did,” I’ll reply nonchalantly. She’ll stare at me as if I’m a sarcastic teenager who just rolled her eyes and muttered “Whatever.” Not that I haven’t been tempted.

I was the firstborn and my dad wanted a boy. So the fact that I didn’t “develop” until I was almost seventeen (even then, the “development” wasn’t any more noticeable than a mosquito bite) makes sense. Boys don’t have breasts. Well, they didn’t back then. These days with so many kids so overweight you’re just as likely to see boys in need of Victoria ’s secret as girls. I didn’t even know what a fully developed female breast was supposed to look like, not having a mother in the picture when my curiosity peaked. I assumed Barbie represented real womanhood. Can you imagine how shocked I was when I discovered that real women’s nipples do not fall off somewhere along the line.

When I was in high school, I bore the brunt of jokes about not having breasts. “If you didn’t have hands, would you wear gloves?” I was teased. After shaking my head, no, the bully of the moment would continue, “Then why do you wear a bra?” These days, I’d answer with “Since you don’t have a brain, why do you have a head?” I’m snarkier now. Like my boobs, snarkiness took a while to come in.

I lived in fear of getting undressed to shower after gym class. Or worse, having a boy remove my bra and find nothing. Fortunately when you are both the debate team and the slide rule squad, the latter wasn’t likely to happen. When a boy finally did remove my bra, he later became my future first-ex-husband. A physics major in college, I remember walking into our bedroom in a nightgown and him quipping, “Your right breast oscillates more than your left.” Ah, always the romantic.

Bra companies want me to celebrate my breasts. My most recent ex-husband wanted me to get a breast lift. I told him I would if he’d get a ball lift. See, that snarkiness comes in handy. It’s hard to know what to feel about these icons of femininity on my chest when someone’s always trying to cut a little piece of them away. I was surprised that following my last lumpectomy – during which the surgeon removed a cyst the size of a Silly Putty egg – that I wasn’t left with a divot. Apparently, fat senses a void and rushes in. Like so many other things in life.

Leigh Anne Jasheway


About Theo Pauline Nestor

Author of Writing Is My Drink (Simon & Schuster) and How to Sleep Alone in a King-Size Bed. Learn more about my courses, editing, and coaching at TheoNestor.com.
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