“Do your ears hang low?
Do they wobble to and fro?
Can you tie ’em in a knot?
Can you tie ’em in a bow?
Can you throw ’em o’er your shoulder
Like a continental soldier?
Do your ears hang low?”
My Mom frequently sang this silly old song, often substituting “boobs” for ears. It’s been in my head lately for many reasons.
This month marks 25 years since we lost my Mom to breast cancer. A wise doctor friend suggested that my fibromyalgia pain level, which is higher now, is due to May’s significance. My Mom’s birthday and of course Mother’s Day are this month too, often on the same day. Some years are mild. Some years I put up my hands to say, Mercy, and let the beautiful and painful memories come and go. The end of the month brings a huge release, even for the “mild” years.
The song is also in my head as my body continues to change during my weight loss journey. I began in the fall and I’m halfway through losing 40lbs. My extra squish is a little due to second baby weight but mostly from stress and chronic pain pity-eating and lack of activity due to fibro pain.
This is my first serious diet in my almost 41 years. My impetus was high blood pressure from pain and stress. I was nonplussed to add managing my blood pressure to my extensive personal care, but welcomed a serious push to lose weight. I’m starting to recognize my body again, and have also discovered an unexpected truth. Yes, Mom, my boobs do hang low!
They’ve always been on the smaller side and it’s said they get smaller after breastfeeding. I nursed my daughters for 18 months each. So, 36 months of breastfeeding, and 20lbs down, I can see that my boobs hang lower than I’d expected. I understand the role of breastfeeding + gravity, but somehow thought, and hoped, I wouldn’t need a bra once I lost weight.
It’s not a vanity thing.
Bras touch many of the upper fibro tender points and sometimes add pain. I hear sports bras can help but I prefer true bras. I wanted to reach at least halfway in my weight loss before going to be fitted for different bra options. At last, I’m going bra shopping this week!
Nothing could’ve been done differently in the early to mid-90s to save my Mom. Gratefully much in cancer care has changed since then and like with everything about my health, I’m very proactive about my monthly self breast checks. I also have an annual mammogram and MRI. Though I’m lucky to be BRCA 1 & 2 negative, newer genetic tests are in my near future.
For us fibro patients, I read a lot about how unrelated health issues are often ignored because they’re first blamed on fibro itself. The proactivity inspired by my mom’s health doesn’t allow that. Any new symptom is checked out separately. I refuse to let fibro take anything more from me than it already has. Just as breast cancer can’t take the memories of my best friend—my Mom—I will not allow fibro, which has stolen so many hours of family and friend time, to take everything.
My boobs hang lower now, and due to fibro, sometimes my self-esteem. Yet when I think of my Mom performing her version of the aforementioned song; her launching the first metastatic breast cancer support group that my hometown of Charleston had at the time; her relative comfort level with her (beautiful) cancer-ravaged body; and all the laughing and loving my parents and I did while she was ill, I feel somewhat fortified and more like my pre-chronic self.