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Walnut Shells and BRCA

If I was going to write a poem,
It would be–
It probably shouldn’t be–
About how much I hate the dog.
The way he licks his paws for hours
In the middle of the night
When the baby is no longer crying.

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What If

I undo the front of the cloth gown and step closer to the menacing machine. The female technician gently lifts one of my breasts—usually she begins with the left—onto a cold, flat surface. I shiver as my warm skin reacts to the chilly metal. Then, the top of the machine slowly descends, pushing into the top of my breast, flattening it, and squeezing it until tears form in my eyes. 

“Hold your breath,” the technician states.

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Marla Drawing I Love Women

I Love Women

Marla Lukofsky

About the artist: 

Marla Lukofsky is a standup comedian, inspirational speaker, jazz singer, cancer survivor and writer. Her stories have been published in various narrative medicine journals, including Cell2Soul and Health Story Collaborative. With two TEDx Talks to her credit, Marla continues to share her experiences in the hopes of helping others.

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Third Degree

Susan S. Turner

When I find a lump in my left breast I am stunned. I probably shouldn’t be surprised, but I’m immobilized. It takes me several days before I tell my partner, who has to push me into action. I get the referral from my doctor and schedule a mammogram. The radiology practice fits me into their schedule that same week, but I still have several days to sit with the unknown.

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The Vulnerability and Freedom of Nakedness

There are many ways to be naked. There’s physical nakedness, and there’s also the nakedness of feeling vulnerable. When my body and hence my life have been out of control, it has felt like nakedness. When I have had no covering against the elements, whether physical or psychological, I have felt naked.

 

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Blindsided

Alice Y. Kim

When Teresa showed up forty-five minutes late for her appointment, I sighed. I knew this would disrupt our clinic’s afternoon schedule.

That was nothing unusual, though. The clinic treats large numbers of patients who are undocumented, homeless and uninsured, and many must walk or take public transportation to get here. After seven weeks on rotation here as a third-year medical student, I knew that appointment times were flexible.

As I

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First Shower

Kristen Knott

“Do you need help getting undressed?” Jon asks from the doorway of our bedroom, one hand holding his BlackBerry, the other tucked into the front pocket of his baggy jeans. His head is slightly tilted, his eyebrows arched, highlighting his forehead wrinkles.

His phone vibrates, drawing his eyes from me to the incoming message. I wait.

Jon reads, ponders and then looks up, half-absorbed in what he’s just read, and

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Shamlian 140713 209 0001

Flourish

Danielle Shamlian

About the artist: 

Danielle Shamlian is a freelance photographer in eastern Massachusetts, specializing in children and family photography. She received her degree in photography from Boston University Center for Digital Imaging Arts. In May 2014, she was diagnosed with an aggressive breast cancer. This shock was

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women with lymphedema deCabrera

Walking Beside Me

HeatheRoden Vda. Cabrera (submitted by Sara Cohen)

About the artist: 

“I paint, draw, work in terra-cotta, glass, stone and wood. I like mixed media, and I adore metallics and glitter. Visually, I am deeply concerned with the impact of light upon a scene or an object.

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Cover-up

Carol Scott-Conner

“The plastic surgeons tell me that women who like to swim do much better with reconstruction than with prostheses,” says a young breast surgeon at our weekly Breast Cancer Tumor Board, the working conference where we discuss every new breast cancer patient before starting treatment.

There’s a slight note of surprise in her voice; to her, it’s simply another consideration when advising women before mastectomy.

For decades, the only option after a mastectomy

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The Hallway

Colleen Fogarty

Sitting here, waiting to teach a medical student.

My eyes lock
onto the windowed display cabinet of anatomic pathology specimens.

Aging bottles of shriveled dun-colored parts, pale reminders of bodies once vital.

My thoughts drift
my rib pain, localized, continuous, nagging.
my breast cancer, localized, excised, treated…just over a year ago.

What pains my rib?

Mets?
Muscles?

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