Thing One and Thing Two…

Humpty Maria sat on a wall, Humpty Maria had a great fall.                        

Several season of Real Houeswives ago, I was on sabbatical after entertaining an inconvenient episode of breast cancer. 

When you first hear the word “cancer” you think; “Ohhhh…crap.” When others hear it, you get a mixed response. I discovered that those of a certain generation tend to actually whisper the word “cancer”, the same way they mumble other taboo topics, such as “mafia”, “bribery” or “extra-marital affairs”.  I believe they think if you say “cancer” out loud, you may actually catch it. I’m here to tell you that cancer is not contagious. Truly. But, on the up-side, having cancer can get you stuff and get you out of stuff!

For instance:

  1. Obtaining a cleaning lady. Actually, this tactic did not work for me, but my husband did morph into a temporary Merry Maid!  He actually stepped up to Swiffer and stepped down to scrub the floors. It was amazing. Do not tell him I said that. I don’t need him thinking I appreciate him at this late date.
  2. No fundraising! No volunteering! Who is going to ask a chick with breast cancer to sell cheesecakes or man a coin-drop? No one! Free pass! Just say no!
  3. You can totally proclaim; “I have cancer and you have to do anything I say,” and get away with it, in addition to making pretty much any rude statement; i.e.: “I have cancer, so you should pay for my lunch.” Or “My cancer prevents me from buying you a Christmas present this year. You understand.” Or “I have cancer and you suck and your haircut makes you look fat”. Anything goes!
  4. When people offered:”If you need anything, just call”…I really did! That’s what they get for being so crazy- generous! That’ll teach ‘em. I made calls to have my car washed, my Christmas lights strung and my dog’s anal glands cleaned. Ps: When you say:”If you need anything…” perhaps follow with the words:”…except anything having to do with an animal’s orifice.” And, alas, no takers for my request for a mustache wax.
  5. Now this is dicey: handicapped parking. Look, I was technically handicapped before this all started because I’m freakishly short, and my friend, Denise, insists that by government standards, I’m considered a dwarf and may qualify for government benefits. Who knew? But, that aside, I say, with no boobies where there once was a pair, most women may consider that somewhat of a pseudo-handicap! Yet, I could not bring myself to park in that blue space, with that strange, blue stick-man glaring up at me from his blacktop-flanked wheelchair, primarily because my legs were actually still functional. I do have some standards, you know. However, I did briefly toy with the idea of using the snazzy Jazzy Chair at Wal-Mart. That would’ve been quite the time-saver this holiday season, let me tell you.

After losing “Thing One and Thing Two” it’s amazing how every inanimate object resembles ta-ta’s once they become a distant memory. For example, I said to my sister after the surgery:              ” Gosh, it’s hard for me to take a deep breast…I mean breath…” Or, “I think I’ll lie down and have a little breast…er…rest.”  It’s just that when you’ve had them since 1975, not having them takes some getting used to. You become almost obsessed with the size and shape of what was.

Here are things that look like breasts to me now, yet never have before:

A doorknob

A salt shaker (and possibly the pepper mill in a certain light)

A truffle

Kiwi, of course, and even more so, an avocado. Actually, all fruit, except a banana. That resembles something else entirely.

Water bottle

A jellyfish

Naturally, a baggie full of anything…but especially Jell-O

An egg. Extra bonus points if it’s sunny side up

Well…yes, it takes some getting used to, this loss of my milk cartons, but if it’s between looking like the Pillsbury Dough Boy and having cancer, Dough Boy it is. It’s a very small price to pay for being cancer free. Having a radical mastectomy is no walk in the park but it is a gift when you’re presented with a future without breast cancer. Happily, the day has come that I can now say; “I  HAD cancer, and you have to do anything I say”. True, it doesn’t have the same spark of urgency or pity…but let’s just hope it never does.

All the king’s horses and all the king’s men put Maria back together again.

About the Author:

Maria Jiunta HeckMaria Jiunta Heck, President of Green Gables Enterprises, designer and owner of the Breast & Chest Buddy™, was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2009 and underwent a bilateral mastectomy.

As every mastectomy patient knows, our bodies become difficult to maneuver immediately following surgery, and simple tasks, such as driving a car and fastening a seatbelt prove daunting and difficult.

Because a mastectomy patient may go through multiple procedures over the next 8 to 12 months, it is imperative to cushion the delicate area where a seatbelt rests daily. A pillow is not the answer.

Since no one had ever designed a product like this at the time, she would. Thus, the Breast & Chest Buddy™ was born. Nine years and ten procedures later and Maria still wears her Breast & Chest Buddy™ every, single day.

No one understands what a mastectomy patient needs like another mastectomy patient.

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