This past Sunday I attended my first BAYS clothing swap. Members bring their clothes, shoes, meds and accessories (like chemo hats and fuzzy socks in addition to scarves, purses and jewelry) that no longer serve them, and we all swap over snacks and bevvies. So fun, right??!!!
It’s difficult to describe how comforting it is to be completely enveloped by the fierce love of my fellow compatriots. The BAYS bosom is a loving place to be (even though many BAYS women don’t actually have a bosom — just mastectomy scars (a proud reminder of their fight) hence the “irony intended” part of my title!!). I feel held up and celebrated when I’m amongst these women. And it helps me to be able to give others my support — since I’m not that far out of active treatment — I didn’t really think I’d be able to inspire or support anybody — but as it turns out, I can and do!
Not surprisingly, it didn’t take long (about 3 minutes!) before someone stripped down and we were all feeling each others foobs, or lack there of, for those who opted out of reconstruction. Never in a million years did I think I’d regularly be standing around looking at other people’s chests and flashing my own without a second thought! We ooh and ahh over an amazing nipple tattoo job. We inspect my still healing surgical incisions and determine I’m progressing nicely even though I still have a lot of isolated pain. We pinch, squeeze, poke and touch each others chests. We allow space for one of our sisters to complain about how her body betrayed her and rejected her implant, so now she’s left with a concave crater with folds in place of a foob. Not the look she was going for at the outset of her journey. But this is the sort of shit that happens. Implants get rejected, scar tissue bites you in the ass, and your BAYS sisters will hug you and let you bitch about it to your hearts content. This is a no judgement zone.
We laughed, visited, found some great new clothes. We danced, cried, embraced and examined our boobs some more. We let our fellow sister who is having a cancer recurrence dance and sing and be joyful. And when she didn’t feel like doing that anymore, and the tears and sobs overcame her — we all embraced her channeled our love and support into her. I could be her in a few years. Recurrence is a very real possibility and fear for every cancer survivor, including me. But, we all take solace in the fact that we have BAYS — this magical community — we know BAYS will be there for us when our time of need comes — no matter how big or small that need may be.
My BAYS sisters recently published an anthology entitled, “The Day My Nipple Fell Off – and Other Stories of Survival, Solidarity and Sass”. If you’re reading this post at home and really want to know how amazing the women of BAYS are, go out and buy this book immediately. I’ll make it easy for you — here’s the link to Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Nipple-Other-Stories-Survival-Solidarity/dp/1484934024. I greedily consumed it cover to cover in about 3 hours. Buy one for yourself and a copy for anybody you know who has been impacted by breast cancer (fighter or caretaker). It’s an incredible read that will make you laugh out loud as well as ugly cry.
I am proud to say that I personally know, and am friends with multiple authors in the book. So happy to be part of this wonderful support group. Not sure what I would do without these characters. Thank you BAYS for all that you do — for me, and countless others.
For those of you wondering, I got an amazing raincoat, a great wool vest and a beautiful dress. Others took home a scarf and two pairs of wedge sandals that I brought. Yes, I feel my closet was validated b/c people took my stuff home — shallow — but, whatever. It is what it is…