About to extract a couple of teeth and get a bridge. I left an infection unattended as we had back to back lockdowns on pandemic for which I am paying a heavy price today. But its okay. There is a remedy at least. Even so, I couldn’t stop obsessing about my front tooth – yah sadly its right in the lower front of all places 😦 – that i have had since teething. Just losing my healthy teeth for no reason made me conscious of it for the very first time. Last couple of days I am going to the mirror and checking and checking my teeth and I find them strong ironically. Case of building strong, basement weak 😀 Then I pushed the thoughts of self pity out of my mind as I remembered the breast cancer patients who get their breasts hawed in pretty younger age. My beautiful willowy working aunt wasn’t even my age when she had her right one chopped. She was more upset about baring her chest to a male surgeon, coming from a very conservative family. The mastectomy was only her second concern. Once she understood it would be a life saver for her, she went under the knife wholeheartedly. She in fact has had a double mastectomy and double knee replacement. But she has a tremendous willpower. After her first mastectomy, she was on leave for a month that happened to coincide with her summer vacation. From the second month she would take a bus to her chemotherapy and radiation sessions and head straight to her school where she was teaching board X girls! Twenty five years later, the cancer has relapsed for a second time and has caught her in the esophagus. A double time covid survivor as well, my aunt just completed a course of forty radiations in the wrong side of her seventies. When I went to her straight from airport this May, she was the one who made the filter coffee for me. Her spirit is my greatest inspiration. Her first surgery was a neat job. Her second was hastily done up. It was then she cried, and never for anything before. She said, the surgeon botched up with his sewing because probably he did not even consider her a woman. She was just a blob of flesh for him to chop and stitch up. There was such a lack of aesthetics that my aunt for the first time in her life, felt like a freak She felt as if she was denied her rightful dignity. I could see the difference between both sides of sutures. The second one was a patch work done poorly. It revealed the heart of a very cold man. Every one has a soul including women with breast cancer in their sixties and seventies. Surgery may be basically butchery, yet we women are not the cattle to go under the blade. I do now get it how my aunt must have felt all those years back, having to forego her breast. But she would dismiss my concerns and tell me that she wanted to live long for the sake of her children. And if her breasts would come in her way, she would rather have them chopped without regrets. I do get the import of her words of conviction. What is that with losing a couple of frontals. Its okay. I have to have many loud laughs with my granddaughter. I have to guffaw at the jokes cracked by my family. Yet this word ‘anga heenam’ keeps haunting me as I run to the mirror to check my front tooth for the nth time. Something that’s been with me for 50+ years will be history. My heart goes out to women who throw out their breasts and wombs so that they can live for their families. The presence counts. The presence is what matters. The husbands who love their wives with their chopped breasts, with one breast with the pair gone – these great men merit a standing ovation. Anga heenam – losing a body part, an internal or external organ, can take a big emotional toll on women.
A friend who was mother of my son’s school friend, died of breast cancer. She opted out of mastectomy by will and settled for chemotherapy and radiation so that she would not be disfigured. But the relapse happened too quick. And she regretted to me having to pay with her life for putting vanity first over health security. A small tooth extraction can give us so much gyaan!!! Even the menopause is not easy on us women. Something with us for over 40 years just ceases one fine day. We know it is a biological cycle and it has to happen at the right time for our own sake. The hot flushes, the mood swings omg… I wonder why god made us women into complicated creatures. As my friend says, even the responsibility for anything lies with women as our reproductive organs lie within whereas for men it is external.
Kudos to women in 50s, two of who I know being mothers of my son’s school mates, who had to get both their knees replaced too very early.
Strangely I remember this from my working days after years, years…
There was this secretary to chairman. I was at that time a new appointee, youngest in my workplace. Anyway someone had already whispered in my ears that the stunning lady in her forties was a breast cancer survivor. One day she came to say ‘hi’ to me as I was a fresher. Then suddenly she reddened and told me, ‘i may have removed my breast but my ovaries are intact.’ The woman had had breast cancer in her twenties. She was single. She was such a looker. I got bewildered by her outburst. I told a girl who had joined with me what the woman had told me. I think the young me had sparked an envy in her. I never told another soul about this again. For days what she said was ringing in my ears. I understood her aching even though I was unmarried then. My heart goes out to her even today.
I kind of was also thinking of men who bodyshame women when they have not-so-pretty and duskiest daughters, skinny wives. These have to be monsters to make a meal out of women’s souls. My take is that, insufficient men find an urge to belittle women who are too good for them.
The breast cancer women who removed their breasts were most beloved to their husbands, as I bear witness to their happiest fulfilled lives. The men did not seek pleasure out of turn. The anga heenam can be in our body, but not in our minds. That is the point.
Beauty lies in the eye of the beholder. We WILL always remain beautiful to the deserving ones in our lives, the worthiest of our love.