Thing One and Thing Two (Maria Heck, Pt 2)

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

Several seasons of Real Housewives ago, I was on sabbatical.  I was entertaining an inconvenient episode of breast cancer.

When you first hear the word “cancer” you think “Ohhhh…crap!”  “Please no not me!”  I discovered that those of a certain generation tend to whisper the word “cancer” the same way they mumble other taboo topics, such as “mafia”, “bribery” or “extra-marital affairs.”  They seem to believe that if you say “cancer” out loud, you may catch it.  Well, I’m here to tell you that cancer is not contagious.  Truly!

Now, on the upside (yes, there is an upside), having cancer can get you stuff, and get you out of other stuff!  For instance…

Obtaining a cleaning lady.  While this tactic did not work for me, my husband did morph into a temporary Merry Maid!  He 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).

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!  If asked, just say no!

You can proclaim “I have cancer and you have to do anything I say” and get away with it.  You can also utter pretty much any rude statement and get away with it. “I have cancer, so you should pay for my lunch.”  “I am sure you understand, but my cancer prevents me from buying you a Christmas present this year.”  “I have cancer and you suck, and your haircut makes you look fat.”  In fact, anything goes!

When people offer “If you need anything, just call” you can say yes, every time!  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.  A word of advice…. when you say, “If you need anything…”, follow with the words “except anything having to do with an animal’s orifice.”  And, alas, no takers for my request of a mustache wax.

Now this is dicey…handicapped parking.  Look, I was technically handicapped before this all started because I’m freakishly short.  My friend Denise insists that, by government standards, I’m considered a small human and may qualify for government benefits.  Who knew?  That aside, many women would consider having no boobies where there was once a pair, somewhat of a pseudo-handicap!  Be that as it may, I could not bring myself to park in that blue space.  The one with that strange, blue stickman glaring up at me from his blacktop-flanked wheelchair.  Primarily, this was because my legs were still functional.  I do have some standards, you know!  But, I did briefly toy with the idea of using the snazzy Jazzy Chair at Wal-Mart.  That would’ve been quite the time-saver, let me tell you.

After losing “Thing One and Thing Two” it’s amazing how every inanimate object resembles ta-ta’s.  Also, how the word breast keeps slipping into conversation.  For example, I said to my sister after the surgery, ”Gosh, it’s hard for me to take a deep breast…I mean breath.”  On another occasion, “I think I’ll lie down and have a little breast…er…rest.”  It’s just that when you’ve had breasts 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 saltshaker (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.

A water bottle.

A jelly fish.

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.


*Reprinted from The Sunday Dispatch*

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