What is your relationship with breast cancer and your dad? Have you ever really thought about it? I've been open about my diagnosis since day one, but in retrospect, did I really talk to my dad about my breasts?
I always turned to my mom for medical advice and I gave her the updates on everything (and I mean everything!). Even when I went in for my first mammogram under 40 I told my mom but asked, "please don't tell dad". I'm not sure if it was because I was nervous, scared, embarrassed, or maybe all of the above. It wasn't until I was at the diagnostic phase that I spilled the beans. My dad was cool, calm, and collected (like every man, right? ), he was very matter of fact and taking it in.
I lost a lot of male friends when I "came out" about my breast cancer. But can you blame them? We are talking about breasts! A word that in third grade made every boy giggle. We are talking about a feminine body part that most of us identify with, even though we proclaim that our Breast Don't Define us. Most people blush about the subject and here we are cutting them off (full stop! Period!). It is all we can think about!
Yes, people shy away because they are not prepared for what we are about to go through. It's not us, it's them. We come to terms about what makes us feminine, how we, personally, want to be recognized. There is no right or wrong... but breasts are a topic. We are not vain, we are not heroines, ... we just are... we are those going through a breast cancer diagnosis.
But back to father's day.
There was a very important moment in my life with my dad. It was the day he flew out to visit me in Boston (from Chicago). We sat side by side, and he asked me how I was doing, not in the general sense that usually warranted the "I'm managing, I'm doing fine, I'm going to beat this" and then we talk about the weather.... This time was different. I was prepared to speak, answer questions, and take him on this journey.
I brought out my BINDER of notes, every test result, ever bill, every pamphlet someone gave me ... and I began to go step-by-step explain to my dad what I was going through. From images of "this is my breast" to "here is the cancer" to "yes these are the lymph nodes" to I'm on "Herceptin, Cytoxan, Taxol, Perjeta, Adriamycin, and Capecitabine..."
My dad studied every print out, all of the tests, the results, and the literature... and here I am sitting side by side... with my dad... talking about my breasts, my cancer, and my surgery options. I realize that cancer effects us dramatically and it also impacts those around us as well.
Dad's are tough. It's scary, it's unknown and they don't always know how to respond. And that's OK. But they are our dads and love us, no matter what!