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Monday, October 17, 2011

The Last Days of Nicky & Paris

It's the day before my mastectomy and five days since discovering that one of my breasts must be sheaved off under the surgeon's knife.

Since Thursday, I've been rallying my thoughts and emotions around the unexpected scenario of my body being reshaped. It hasn't been easy to come to terms with and to some degree, it surprises me.

I don't know if my feeling are normal, but I feel a little sad.

You see, my breasts, named Nicky and Paris after a stint at comedy two years ago, have been a central part of my journey into adulthood. I've always been aware of them.

Spouted (in what seemed gigantic proportions compared to the rest of my then 40-kg frame) the year I turned 12, the sisters have played a greater role in my life than would most breasts perhaps because they were spawned in an era when most girls were frankly, pretty flat-chested.

Even through the uglier stages of my development from buck-toothed, knobbly-kneed youngster to young adult able to attract favourable attention, Nicky and Paris have tended to command centrestage, providing a focal point for many an encounter with a leering male eye.

In fact, my old friend, Timbo, who I first met in the dark room of what was then Q.I.T. nearly 30 years ago, sent me an email yesterday.

This is what he said: "Just thought you'd be amused to hear that Marky Symons is in Sydney this weekend for my bucks' day today, and last night we were reminiscing about how a fair portion of our early 20's were spent discreetly (or not?) admiring Nicky and Paris."

So you see, straight from the horse's mouth, my breasts have been minor celebrities in their day.

When I was at Uni, in fact, at lectures my cleavage provided hours of amusement for the males among my fellow students who would make small balls out of paper and take turns at scoring down my teeshirt or top. It was annoying.

I spent many a social occasion with guys having conversations with my breasts. "I didn't get it" as I intoned during my comedy skit. "The conversations could hardly have been scintillating. I mean breasts aren't exactly known for their intelligence. Just look at their grades. EE. FF. It doesn't get much dumber than that. No wonder they're called BOOBS." Funny, no?

But of course, Nicky and Paris have not just been minor celebrities on a drunken night out on the town. They've also played an important role in the nourishment of my two kids. If 'breast is best' my two surely scored. In fact, I couldn't bloody get Harry off it. He was like a tick who would gorge himself until he literally fell off.

The "Boobsie Twins", as I sometimes call them, have also filled out many a feminine outfit and now I can't help worrying how I will look in the many dresses in my wardrobe.

I contemplate the imminent parting of Nicky and Paris.

No more will they form the dynamic duo, wobbling in unison on my routine jogs, threatening one or the other to be unwittingly unleashed to clobber me in the eye.

No more, together, will they attract the envy of my flat-chested friends. Ha! They may be 12 inches taller than me but I had 12 inches on their chests! Just check out Lyndal's pair...

You've got your peas, your plums, your mangoes and your watermelons... you hear what I'm saying?

I've never wanted different fruit. For all my cruel mockery of their general overripe droopiness, we've bonded over the years and I've grown quite fond of them.

I don't want to say goodbye to either of them but I have no choice.

And so, in the past few days, I have taken the time to honour Nicky and Paris with a last knees-up together:

Here they are, at Mel's restaurant opening on Friday, with one of their great admirers (and drunken gropers), Garry, realising his secret fantasy. (Actually, it's not that secret).

On Friday, they got down and boogeyed briefly - one last wild dance together - at Harry's 18th birthday party.

On Sunday, I took them for a walk with my best friend Louisa. Later, we visited my dearest buddy, Nim. Here she is greeting them at the door. We drank Moet, feasted on Turkish meatballs and talked for nearly four hours!

Now today is their last day together. It is blowing a gale outside and the sky is overcast.

At noon, I take Nicky and Paris to lunch with my dearest old friends, Janet, Tracey and Lindar who have driven down especially from Brisbane to have lunch with me. I have known these three since my 20s. We are the gallant four who share a past, a story whose introduction was written in the offices of the Lord Mayor, Sallyanne Atkinson, whose middle has seen us support each other through our child-bearing years, and whose end I hope will be seen together. These are friends who have an integral role in my history and it is wonderful that they have made the effort to see me.

Here is our last picture together with Nicky and Paris:

Soon after I arrive home, the telephone rings. It's Christine ringing from New South Wales. She says she has sent me personal parcel in the mail and confides that it will contain the prosthesis for her left breast plus a few bras.

We laugh about that: mail-order breasts. This surely has to be the apogee of kindness and thoughtfulness. I love you Chrissy!

Tomorrow I shall go to the hospital in comfort, knowing that, from the thousands of chest presses and push-ups I've done to help keep them pert into their old age, to the hundreds spent on top-shelf sports bras, and the effort made to ensure their last days have been meaningful, Nicky and Paris have had the best of care.

No I could not, it seems, anticipate the scourge of breast cancer. Despite my best efforts, I could not ward off the consequences of a life-threatening illness.

But I have done my best. They have had a good life together.

That is the all anyone can expect.


  1. Thoughts, prayers, and much love with you, Nicky, Paris, Al and the the family

  2. Love you too Bronny!
    There's very few people on this earth that I would mail off my left breast to.
    Stay strong and courageous tomorrow - and enjoy the pethadine! It's great!!
    I'll be thinking of you.
    C xoxoxoxoxoxoxOO

  3. My beautiful Bronnie. Thank you for sharing your day with us all today. You were a vision in sunny yellow and it was wonderful to share your infectious humour and share a laugh at a time like this. It is this strength of character and the power of positive thinking that defines you when faced with such a challenge. As much as the girls are fabulously gorgeous, much admired, highly envied, drooled over and all that.....they are nothing without you and you will always be beautiful, funny and most importantly still YOU without them. Lx

  4. omg i really don't know what to say except good luck and my thoughts are with you and the family.