As we come to the end of a month drenched in pink, I’d like to share the poem I wrote the night before my first mastectomy. As I sat, weeping, in my favorite green rocker, these lines came to me:

Goodbye, beloved breast

I shall never forget you—

Shall I ever come to the end of grieving?

When first you developed in sweet innocence

I was dismayed—

I was afraid of emerging sexuality…

But you became beautiful

My lover treasured you

My children nuzzled you and were nourished

I cradled you in my hands to cherish your softness…

Now a dark menace has invaded you

And somehow I must bear our parting…

Goodbye, beloved breast

Goodbye, beloved part of me

Goodbye, symbol of my femininity…

(excerpted from Fine Black Lines: Reflections on Facing Cancer, Fear and Loneliness ©1993, 2003 Lois Tschetter Hjelmstad)

As it turned out, this poem became the first of a series of poems which later became part of the above book, along with journal entries, photos, and reflections.

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