Breast health important for all

It was a hot, sunny afternoon in Wrightsville Beach, N.C., a perfect day for boogie boarding with the family. On a family vacation. At a family beach. With family values.

Our kids were having a blast playing in the ocean, and we were having a blast playing like kids. In fact, my husband and I had started judging each other’s boogie boarding skills on a 1-10 scale based on style, distance and duration.

It was my turn. I carefully surveyed the incoming waves, knowing too little crest could end the ride before reaching sand, yet too much crest could waterboard me.

I watched my wave grow to the perfect size, with the perfect speed, and made a perfect launch.

It scooped me up, carrying me faster and faster toward land. I could feel the broken seashells grazing my knees and the water swell all around me, but I stayed steady on the board, riding that wave onto dry sand with one final push from a second wave behind me.

Water splashed around my face as I came to a stop. Stumbling and staggering to a stand as salt stung my eyes, I could barely make out my husband, thumbs up and smiling down shore 20 yards.

I waved back, carefully wiping my eyes so as not to lose my contacts on the beach.

He motioned to me, pointing to his chest with pride, as I pulled my wet hair back from my face with both hands and blinked away more water. I was pretty sure he had just given me the highest score ever known for boogie boarding.

Singing “I am the Champion” to myself as my husband finally came into clear focus though, I noticed he was not giving the thumbs up, but vigorously pointing to his chest with one hand and pointing at me with the other.

I looked down.

My right breast had popped completely out of my tankini. I was Janet Jackson, and the ocean was my Timberlake. I immediately tucked the poor little runaway into place and ran to my husband, who was laughing so hard he had started to cry.

“No one saw,” he tried to say with a straight face. “No one except that guy,” he pointed to a man a few yards behind him who turned his head as soon as I glanced his way.

“I want to go home,” I cringed.

“You can’t go home,” he said. “You just made his day.”

The point of the story — and this story actually does have a point — is that breasts are wonderful, from sustaining life to making life interesting.

As we dive into Breast Cancer Awareness Month, remember to keep the girls healthy with mammograms (kind of what I would imagine breastfeeding a whale to feel like) and self-exams (no appointment required!). Easy, and — best of all — they both save lives.

And THAT is something to smile about.

Dedicated to my (seven-year cancer-free!) mom and all her fellow warriors.


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