A Letter To The Bra That Saved My Life
You’ve been with me since I was 12 – through the stages of development, monthly tender swelling followed by deflated release, pains and stretches of pregnancy, years of breastfeeding that just kept on going. So many stages, so many versions of you. But I will most remember and appreciate the version of you that probably saved my life.
After the miscarriage, you gave me signs my body was ridding itself of the precious nutrients that were already in creation for the life that never came to be. Little circles of darkened fabric appeared every now and then. Nothing to really notice, nothing to really consider. At least by that time, it no longer hurt to put you on or take you off. It seemed that life was slowly falling into the rhythm of (as close to) back to normal as it ever would have been. The most used version of you was getting a little ragged by then.
You were like an old friend of comfort, of shared experience. And then, you spawned a red flag. Literally, a red flag – ever so small, right side, end of the day, a little flash. A flash of red – yes it was there, but did I notice? No. A flash of red so small, so insignificant. Who knows, keep going, keep moving, do your things, live your life. But you didn’t give up. Not you, old friend. You showed me it was hard to fit in again. What was going on? The red. The red flag got bigger, became persistent. Every day. Every day it came, you signalled. A tingle, a trickle, a tingle, a trickle. A dot of dark red blood in the middle of my bra at the end of the day, every day. Time for a mammogram. Why didn’t I think of that sooner? You kept me company waiting for that appointment. The news was “everything is fine, must be another reason. Must be something that is nothing. Not to worry, not to worry,” they said. But you didn’t stop. Red flag, red flag, every day, getting bigger, getting louder, getting darker, announcing its arrival with more sensation. Something is wrong, you told me, keep asking, keep pushing.
Keep asking, keep pushing, keep waiting. Almost a year later, yes. Something is wrong, something is very wrong. They need to go. It all has to go.
My old faithful friend – you get hung up on the hook in the closet. The stain is washed out, but the trace is still there, and the memory will always remain. No need for that friend for a while, forever maybe. The new, unwelcome guests are tubes, gauze, tape, bandages, more big stains, drains. No tiny little flags; everything is very pronounced, dramatic.
If Bra, you hadn’t alerted me, hadn’t shown me, hadn’t persisted with me…. Had I just listened to the specialist – it’s all fine, probably nothing, must be nothing, not to worry. Had I trusted the expert in breasts rather than the expert in me, what would have become of me?
I don’t know. To the Bra that probably saved my life – thank you, yes, thank you! May all women find the same insight within their bodies, and follow their signals to keep pushing, keep asking until they find their truth.
[Context: Extremely dense breast tissue with no findings in mammogram and ultrasound, delayed diagnosis following biopsy and MRI after months of bloody nipple discharge. Treatment of bilateral mastectomy.]