The Booby Squish

A reader’s perspective on survivor’s. 

Please be warned that there may be spoilers in this version of a reader’s perspective. It is not my intention to ruin any of the stories but I really admired the characters and their challenges.

October. I can’t believe that it is already here. But isn’t that something all people say?  Where has the time gone? At least all people with responsibilities? I, at least, don’t remember saying that when I was a kid in school. Then it just seemed to take forever for summer vacation to arrive! Now, I wish I could slow down moments, have more time to do all the fun things and not have to worry about being so responsible all the time. Luckily I really love my job. I couldn’t imagine spending eight hours of my day in a place that made me miserable. So for that, I consider myself really lucky. I mean what better way to spend the day than helping people achieve their maximum potential and return home after illness? I mean I could look at it as I’m spending my day with sick people and isn’t that depressing. Or, as I like to do, I look at it as working with people who are really motivated and have some amazing life experiences to share!

One thing my job does do is give me insight into how important it is to take care of the little things along the way. I’m not just talking about legal wills and such. I’m talking about health and staying as healthy as possible. I get so frustrated when people say they hate going to the doctor when they don’t feel good or having regular check-ups from their doctor or dentist. I mean it is so much easier to address a problem before it becomes a bigger problem than to wait until it has you in a place, working with me just to get strong enough to go home. Granted things pop up unexpectedly or people have accidents, I get that, but when our medical professionals are doing everything they can to find ways to discover problems before they become too hard to treat, then take advantage of it! I mean look at the big picture- going to the doctor regularly could mean having more time with your beautiful partner, wife, and soul mate. I can’t tell you how many encounters with needles I’ve suffered through because a doctor was needing a blood draw or I needed an immunization or just some numbness for some painful procedure- all because I want to stay healthy because that is the best gift I can imagine giving to my wife.

So since it is October, I’m going to use this opportunity to say GO GET A MAMMOGRAM! This is Breast Cancer Awareness Month so take care of this before it is a bigger problem. I’m one of those women who is advised to get one every year. I have incredibly dense breast tissue and each time I’ve gone I’ve been immediately held over for an ultrasound to look more closely at at least two spots they found. Not the most relaxing experience to have your breast squished by two metal (and cold) plates, but totally worth it. I would rather suffer through those fifteen minutes of booby squishing than to find out later breast cancer could have been caught earlier with a better success factor. It happens, and yes it is unnerving each time I step up to that machine, to think, this could be the time when it’s more than an ultrasound. Cancer, and specifically breast cancer, is in our society. There is no way to explain the fear that comes from palpating your own breast and feeling an unexplainable lump. But there are ways to be proactive and I think it needs to be out there. EVERYONE GO GET A MAMMOGRAM!

But thinking about our LesFic, as I so often do, I couldn’t find many examples of breast cancer survivors in our characters and I thought that was odd. The thought of having diverse characters, characters who are more real, characters who are more flawed with life experiences and less perfect, has often times been tossed around in on-line discussions. But having a breast cancer survivor doesn’t seem to be common in our stories. I found some, and the characters are awesome in their presentation starting with Chris Paynter’s Frankie Dunkin in Two for the Show. Breast cancer is a possibility for everyone, but what makes Frankie’s character so real and important is that she already knows what happens and is faced with going through the experience again. I can’t even imagine what that feeling is like for Frankie or for her partner Lisa but Paynter does a phenomenal job of bringing out several questions and action paths of these two characters that really stood out for me.

I also thought that Anne Azel did an amazing job in Seasons with the full progression. One character discovering a lump, to the examination, into the treatment. And because Janet is in a relationship, the dynamics between her and Robbie are important. I mean I try to do everything that I can to stay healthy in regards to getting regular check-ups and such but watching, every day, the families that come to visit my patients and seeing the stress of recovery in their actions and hearing it in their words. Life as a cancer survivor would be difficult, it would be different and it would impact everyone. That is what Azel does so beautifully.

And then there is the character of Adrienne Pierce in Radclyffe’s Tomorrow’s Promise. For me this character is important in regards to breast cancer and our community because of what she so obviously goes through in regards to her personal image and personal self-confidence. It is a disease that disfigures and takes away parts of the body that we routinely connect with being female. It damages tissue making it hard to raise an arm over the head. It causes hair to fall out. The whole thing changes the body and the mind. That is what the character of Adrienne Pierce shared.

Why aren’t there more stories portraying this disease that hits our community? Or better yet, which stories am I missing? The one’s that I have read, I don’t know, “touched me” seems to simple but they have. This is something that I think about at least once a year when I get that notice in the mail saying it’s time to schedule my annual mammogram. I would much rather be thinking about it in this wonderful, amazing, thought provoking genre of LesFic that I love so much. So what stories am I missing, because for that question of “what characters would you like to see more of in LesFic?” my response would be breast cancer survivors.

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26 thoughts on “The Booby Squish

  1. Hey Erin, thank you for this blog and pointing out the importance of the annual mammogram. I had a scare once with a lump, so I understand the need to stay on top of things. Thank you, too, for your mentioning of Two for the Show and the character of Frankie Dunkin. Frankie and Lisa are one of my favorite couples to write about. 🙂

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  2. A great piece, as always, – when I see your name come up, I know there will be a super column ahead! To your list of novels that address breast cancer, an important addition is Lois Cloarec Hart’s Walking the Labyrinth. It is not possible to give a topic-relevant summary of this novel without including a spoiler, so I’ll just say it adds greatly to the list and is a wonderful read.

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  3. Thanks for the reminder, Erin. Chris Paynter is being modest when she doesn’t mention her beautiful book To Love Free. In that novel Madison is shattered following the death of her wife to cancer. Supermodel Gabrielle moves into the same Florida complex as Madison, hoping to complete her chemo treatments. It is a sweet and positive look at the effect cancer has on those going through treatment and their loved ones. And there is a dolphin and an adorable daughter. What’s not to love?

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      1. Chris, I loved Frankie and Lisa as well as the idea of the first woman pro baseball and the rest of your characters in that series. But To Love Free was an absolutely awesome book! Please keep writing and best wishes to you and your wife.

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  4. Few people question, or have questioned, what’s really behind the war on cancer, the endless calls for breast cancer awareness, and the recommendation for routine mammograms. Most people would be much smarter and better informed if they had awareness of what this movement or the war on cancer don’t raise awareness about.

    Many women SAY they want to know the facts about mammography but when they are presented with real factual data opposing the official medical narrative, they are quick to dismiss it or completely ignore it.

    Therefore, this is for those few women (and men) who don’t readily throw cognitive obstacles in their own way to chase away factual information and to keep them in the dark about mammography.

    IF…….. women (and men) at large were to examine the mammogram data above and beyond the information of the mammogram business cartel (eg American Cancer Society, National Cancer Institute, Komen), they’d also find that it is almost exclusively the big profiteers of the test, ie. the “experts,” (eg radiologists, oncologists, medical trade associations, breast cancer “charities” etc) who promote the mass use of the test and that most pro-mammogram “research” is conducted by people with massive vested interests tied to the mammogram industry.

    Contrary to the official narrative (which is based on medical business-fabricated pro-mammogram “scientific” data), there is marginal, if any, reliable evidence that mammography, both conventional and digital (3D), reduces mortality from breast cancer in a significant way in any age bracket but a lot of solid evidence shows the procedure does provide more serious harm than serious benefit (read: ‘Mammography Screening: Truth, Lies and Controversy’ by Peter Gotzsche and ‘The Mammogram Myth’ by Rolf Hefti).

    Most women are fooled by the misleading medical mantra that early detection by mammography saves lives simply because the public has been fed (“educated” or rather brainwashed) with a very one-sided biased pro-mammogram set of information circulated by the big business of mainstream medicine. The above mentioned two independent investigative works show that early detection does not mean that there is less breast cancer mortality.

    Because of this one-sided promotion and marketing of the test by the medical business, women have been obstructed from making an “informed choice” about its benefits and risks which have been inaccurately depicted by the medical industry, favoring their business interests.

    Operating and reasoning based on this false body of information is the reason why very few women understand, for example, that a lot of breast cancer survivors are victims of harm instead of receivers of benefit. Therefore, almost all breast cancer “survivors” blindly repeat the official medical hype and nonsense.

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  5. Greetings. I’m Andi, one of the co-admins of Women and Words. We do appreciate varying opinions, but this forum was not created for political debate about breast cancer or any possible conspiracies or collusion between big Pharm and big Cancer industries; there are many more forums that are far more appropriate for that discussion.

    Certainly, there is lots of debate within and without the medical establishment about the efficacy of mammograms. Some will agree with you, some will disagree.

    We urge everyone to get as much information as they can before making any kind of health decision, especially when it comes to a treatment program for cancer.

    Thanks again for your comment and your concern.

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  6. Oh, and Erin–

    As an FYI, I did a longish short story about a woman who had a mastectomy who ends up finally allowing herself to be attracted to someone and act on it. It’s called “The Sum of Our Parts,” and it’s available in the anthology “First: Sensual Lesbian Stories of New Beginnings,” ed. by Cheyenne Blue. Lady Lit is the publisher.

    More info HERE.

    😀

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  7. I loved your blog, Erin. My new book coming out in December, Courageous Love, deals with the main character being diagnosed and going through treatment, including psychotherapy to deal with her self-image. I did a lot of research for this book and it’s amazing how more in depth treatment has become, therefore increased survival percentages. But it all starts with detection. Thanks for bringing this up.

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