A Poem for April – PTSD

In many ways the 5 surgeries I had during treatment seem sooo long ago, but my body remembers. Since April is national poetry month, I thought I would share this poem I wrote a few weeks ago when my mom broke her arm and needed surgery. I was caught off guard by my reaction as I helped her prep in the surgery center and sent her off on the stretcher:


it was the fuzzy socks
with the grippy soles
sticking out from her hospital gown
under the heated blankets
that took me back

along with the beeping
and the nervous chattiness

my expertise
about anesthesia
and avoiding nausea
and how to dress
for an immobile arm
comes to me again

and I recall
that brisk look of business
under the surgeon’s cap
time to go

with intentionally breezy
goodbyes and
given like a promise
under our control

quick kisses,
doors close

and this time it’s me
weeping softly in the waiting room
for now

and for then


Save the Ta-tas

It’s October, and the world’s turned pink. It was October when I got the mammogram that turned into a diagnosis. So it is both validating and jarring to see the pink ribbons and breast cancer awareness messages popping up everywhere from car dealerships to breakfast cereal to my Facebook feed.

I have mixed feelings about the pink ribbons. I got a lot of pink gifts from family and friends during treatment, and they are special to me. When I look at them, I feel the love. On the other hand, the pink ribbon thing is also a sales gimmick, and the vast majority of that money is not going directly towards breast cancer research or a cure. So when I am confronted with a tube of chapstick with a pink ribbon on it as I’m standing in line to pay for my gas, it sometimes feels gross.

But it’s the Save the Tatas awareness campaign that really turns me off. I get it. It’s fun and clever and cutesy. But I will tell you this: when I got that diagnosis and I imagined my children growing up and my parents getting old without me, when I thought about all of the things in this world that I still wanted to see and do – my ta-tas were the last thing on my mind. I wanted them off, I wanted my ovaries out, I wanted my hormones s.h.u.t. d.o.w.n. I looked the surgeon straight in the eye and said, “Do whatever you have to do, I have children to raise.”

So this campaign that reduces women to their ta-tas, smacks of objectification. Women have a hell of a lot more to offer this world than their ta-tas. Mine are gone, and I have had three years since to spend time with my family and friends, to do important work, to laugh and cry and pray and live. It’s too late to save my ta-tas, but every day I carry the fear that breast cancer could come back to take my life.

So please, don’t waste your energy fighting to Save the Ta-tas or, even worse, to Save Second Base. In the United States, a woman dies of breast cancer every 13 minutes. Until breast cancer is curable or treatable for everyone, forget the ta-tas. Save the people.