Photo Credit: The Sex Bible for Women
"I had a partial mastectomy five years ago. After that, I experienced infections and problems with the implant. Surprisingly, I didn't lose the desire for sex through it all. Like you, I am single without a regular partner--and I couldn't get laid once I confided my story, didn't get as far as showing scars. You saved my sex life, first by linking me to the wonderful world of vibrators available at Babeland and then with the Sex Wardrobe Basics. A friend forwarded the Boyfriend Shirt Quickie with this note, 'Screw up your courage, ask X out for a drink, wear a cami under a big shirt and use this move.' My advice to single cancer women who aren't dead below the waist--Don't confide your cancer story and keep some item of clothing on during sex. Much love to you, dear Sue," Jenny, 43, cancer survivor and hot babe who shares your late sister's name.
I am standing naked in front of a full-length mirror. My breasts--not too small and not too large, a perfect 36C--have always pleased me. Today the left breast has a lump at the top where the flesh begins to swell, a growing mass visible under the skin, marked by a discreet bruise. The big bad culprit, underarm lymph nodes swollen with cancer, led the invasion to my left breast, now smaller and higher than the right one.
Placing the palms of my hands on the underside of my breasts, I lift them, feeling their different weights. I caress my breasts and stroke the nipples. They need (want?) love.
In a black lace bra, I can't see the difference in sizes or the outline of the lump.
Dressed to go out, I do not look like a cancer victim/patient--though I would if I'd submitted to "aggressive treatment" (with no hope for a cure). A professional photographer has volunteered to photograph me (dressed); and you can judge for yourself soon. The cleavage still attracts admiring glances from men my age, even younger.
Yes. Take off panties and skirt, leave your shirt open and breasts discreetly covered by a silk cami--and you've got him at "I want you"--as long as you don't bring up any "C" words that aren't Clitoris or Climax.
I didn't create Sex Wardrobe Basics with cancer patients or plump ladies or older women in mind but it does work for all of them. I was responding to the needs and desire of readers lacking body confidence in bed or looking for new ways to "spice up" their sex lives. They tell me what they want; and I come up with techniques and tricks to give them what they need so they can have the experience. When I started playing with the concept of Doing It Dressed, I was also tired of total nudity that had begun to feel too granola-hippy-healthy. Sex should be a little dirty, a bit mysterious and nothing like shopping for grass-fed beef and free-range chicken and, omigod, no foods with artificial colorings or flavors.
I was inspired by the awesome power of cleavage. Men follow the breasts, no matter they can't see nipple. Cleavage teases, promises, taunts and affronts the sex-scared pious ones. Who doesn't want to do that?
You can--in public without taking off your clothes.
Back in the 1970s when I was young, Nora Ephron wrote "A Few Words About Breasts" for Esquire magazine (an essay later anthologized in Crazy Salad) and created a culture-wide blush. She confided that her small breasts were the "hang-up" of her life and told some charming bra and breast anecdotes. I particularly liked the story about a boyfriend's mother advising her to "always be on top" so he wouldn't notice how small she was. Today, such confessions are benign cocktail party chatter, probably inspired by a discussion on implants, hers or some other woman's.
Breasts make the news in extreme cases, for example, Chas Bono cutting them off as part of his change from Chastity to Chas. We read about them as objects of studies like the reports on the possible role of red wine in preventing breast cancer. They are largely behind the scenes in the biggest breast story of our time: The Pinking of America.
Recently both This Week and The New York Times raised some questions about our national devotion to Pink October, National Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
"The Dallas Cowboys got pinked,"
The Times reported.
"Pink" is no longer a mere color; it is a verb, linking a brand or product to the "cause.'
In "Welcome, Fans to the Pinking of America," Natasha Singer writes,
"Like it or not — and some people don’t like it at all — the pinking of America has become a multibillion-dollar business, a marketing, merchandising and fund-raising opportunity that is almost unrivaled in scope. There are pink-ribbon car tires, pink ribbon clogs and pink eyelash curlers — the list goes on."
Critics question how much money is spent on building "awareness" vs what amount goes to programs like mammograms for poor women or to research. (Also read the fine print; some products claiming a pink link are simply usurping the color.) An article in The Week focuses on numbers and also makes the point, as does the Times, that more women die of heart disease and lung cancer than breast cancer. Would the average person think so? Probably not. Such is the power of The Pinking.
Once again, the American public wallows in sentimentalism, remaining leery or downright disdainful of intelligent investigation and intellectual debate. We are all about the metaphors, sound bites and symbols. Who wants to know that the products they felt so good about buying will add pennies to the marketing budget for Susan Komen for the Cure, the Google of breast cancer organizations? Nicer to fantasize saving a life by purchasing new sneakers and some Bic pens, isn't it?
We've come a long way since First Lady Betty Ford brought breast cancer out into the open. Curiously, we are still hiding the breast. Pink ribbons, pink roses, pink-iced cakes, anything and everything promotes breast cancer awareness except photographs of breasts or essays by women on how much they love them. The predominance of sweet pink in October reminds me of how stuffed toys and dolls dominate the rooms of old ladies in Midwestern nursing homes. If you don't want to sleep with teddy bears and Raggedy Anne when you're old, you'd better add a coda to the living will.
Only my niece Shawn (to date) has felt my left breast and its lump.
"It's harder than I thought it would be," she said, adding, "though I don't know what I expected."
A brief matter-of-fact dialogue about the previously unthinkable normalizes an abnormal situation. If you want to live every day to the fullest, as I do, accept cancer as part of the new normal, demystifying it as much as possible. No, most people won't want to touch, but some are curious, willing to know. They have questions; answer them--unless you hope to have carnal knowledge of the questioner.
I love Jenny's attitude: Put on a silk cami and tell cancer to be quiet while you get yours.
Oddly, her letter made me flash back to those interviews with Fred "Freddie" Ebel, the man who would be a Pick-Up guru. Women recovering from cancer are a category on his list of "potentials", ripe for the Pick-Up. He sees them as especially bruised low hanging fruit. Some day I hope to read that a woman suffocated or strangled him with her padded bra.
Jenny, you and I might complain about men too squeamish to bed us now, but we will never be on a Freddie's easy hitting list. We don't need outside validation. No permission for being sexual required.
Give your breast a loving caress from me.
IF YOU'VE MISSED THE PREVIOUS POSTS--
Dying, The End Game, Part Six: A Quickie on Questions People Ask
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