Memory of losing a breast
Marlene Voss decided to tackle breast cancer the only way she knew how; by diving right into the tumbling wave of life. She shares her brave story.
Linda and I were walking our dogs in Silvermine reserve and sharing the stories of our week. "There seems to be something wrong with my left breast", I said.
Within two days, following her strong insistence and a couple of doctor’s appointments, I was lying in a hospital bed recovering from explorative surgery. I will never forget the surgeon and attendant nursing sister rushing into my room later that afternoon; the sister moving to one side of my bed, Tony, my surgeon, to the other.
They leant over me as if to hold me. "You have a tumour that has to be removed", Tony said. "In fact I recommend that you have the left breast and lymph glands in the armpit removed and that you have it done tomorrow." His manner was watchful, his tone intense.
My first thought was of my children. What would they say? I trusted this surgeon. That night when all the visitors had left, I stood staring out of the hospital window at the shape of the mountain against the dark sky. Nothing will be same again, I thought. No chance of an illicit affair for me now!
The operation, the visitors, the phone calls and the hospital staff all filled the following three days. One friend brought oil and rubbed my feet, another sat at my side while the sun went down and nurses came and went. My children brought flowers, books and a talisman in the shape of a small wire pig with wings.
My mind wandered inwards. I recalled how I loved swimming at Muizenberg beach as a child, riding white-tipped waves. Some were so big that as they came towards me the only choice was to hold my breath, dive right in, be tumbled around and come out breathless and exhilarated on the other side.
This was how I resolved to meet cancer and the loss of my left breast; I would dive right into the tumbling wave of life hoping that I would be left standing, however shakily, when it was all over.
On my first day home my husband looked at me as I lay in a bath. "I like your new sports girl look", he said.
I smiled. Who needed an affair?