Tata To My Tatas | A Pre-Mastectomy Letter
How does one prepare to have two organs removed? In October 2020 my gal pals and I did a five-mile hike to raise money for breast cancer awareness month and say tata to my tatas. I was diagnosed with breast cancer two months before and soon learned it had spread to lymph nodes and I had the BRCA 2 gene mutation. A radial double mastectomy was highly recommended. I was afraid not just of the pain, but of what I would look like after the surgery. I truly could not imagine myself without breasts and yet all I wanted was to have the cancer removed; never to think about it again.
I decided to write a goodbye letter to my breasts and thought I would read it aloud once we all reached the top. I wasn’t ready, but today I want to share this letter and encourage those of you who are about to have any major surgery removing any body part, cancer or not, to write a goodbye letter. It’s a part of you and it’s ok to mourn the loss. I jumped out of bed two nights before my surgery and had my husband take pictures of me topless. I needed to capture a before picture of me and my breasts and my hair, to freeze a moment in time at the ripe age of 43 before all active treatments for cancer began. I hope the letter below encourages you to lean into your grief, but also inspires you to know that you will soon be better.
Dear boobs, breasts, tatas, & every other name I’ve called you,
I always wanted you. I even prayed for you when I knew that wasn’t the most pressing thing on God’s list.
Thank you for feeding our three babies. Thank you for making me feel sexy and bringing joy to my husband. Thank you for making me feel pretty in my wedding dress. Thank you for when I shopped for clothes and anytime I got dressed. Even when I hated every pair of jeans I tried on, I know you, what you like to wear and what makes you look your very best. You’re so easy to dress up or dress down. You ARE the perfect accessory to any outfit.
I’m sorry I was grossed out by you when your nipples became the size of half dollars while pregnant and nursing. I’m sorry I shared you with men who didn’t deserve you. I’m sorry I depended on you to make me feel good about myself even when I disapproved of you as you changed through each season of my life. I’m sorry I didn’t do breast self-exams and I didn’t listen to you when you gave me shots of pain to warn me. I’m sorry I allowed you to become sick. I’m sorry I’m mad at you and all I’ve felt the last couple of months when I look at you is sadness and fear.
I will miss you; truth be told I already do. You will always be special to me and I will look back lovingly on our time together; remembering all the beauty about you. However, it’s time for you to go. Please leave me easily and completely. Take all the cancer with you and let me heal physically and emotionally. I will be ok, actually better, without you. I love you.
Farewell, goodbye, TATA.
Photo courtesy of author.