Monday, October 25, 2010

About a Boob

My mum, Beth Batchelor, was diagnosed with breast cancer at age thirty nine. What does thirty nine look like? Well, sometimes, believe it or not, it looks rather like this.

During the twenty years she moved through various chemos, remissions, brachii therapies and episodes of the old radiator radiating her vitals until she glowed, Beth learned to call cancer her 'friend'. Fairweather friend perhaps? Indeed not! For it stayed with her through thick wig and thin hair, through donut tunnels and through involuntary eyebrow waxes. Mum had a lifelong companion in cancer and, as such, we had to find ways to laugh.

Indeed, it was very funny when she shrunk her wig.

It was hilarious when we then went out for coffee, me with my handbag and mum with her inch of baby soft grey regrowth, and an old friend bumped into her, 'Beth! Love your hair. Where d'you get it done?!'

It was titillating when her pop in prosthetic breast slipped to her waist during a pertinent prayer time in church one Sunday morning. 'Oh my Lord, 'struth, dear God, please let me rise up, or at least my left breast, to greet your ever present presence. And where is the bloody superglue when you need it? Amen.' (Or something similar. Dad remembers it all too well. And in fact, despite what I've made up here being a little stretch of the truth, what she probably actually said was probably actually more hilarious.)

And it was incomprehensibly hysterical when this happened...

About a Boob

My mum found a teatowel and stuffed it in her bra.
That was back in ‘83 when she drove a bright blue car.
Mum was sick for quite a bit so we had to help out
to clean and do the dishes knowing mum she still had clout,

for if we made excuses like whose turn ‘twas to dry up
she’d just pull out her teatowel which would make us all shut up.
Yep, Mum she just got on with it - on that herself she prided,
the scar went where the left one were - she looked a bit lopsided.

But soon it was now Christmas (the America’s Cup in Perth)
she finally got her plastic jelly boobie, oh what mirth.
So out she chucked the teatowel and in the boob did go
opposite the real one snug and quite incognito.

Rarely did it wibble wobble as with Beth it travelled
rarely did it flip or flop ‘less bra straps did unravel.
And roam it did with Bethie B in her Datsun 1200
through rain and sunshine, heat and when it snowed and hailed and thundered

No Bethie’s boob did never leave her side, well, so to speak,
a matching piece of plastic jelly, complete with little peak.
Mum she made a resolution one day in mid summer,
'I’m going to get fit,' said she, 'take inches off my bum, huh?'

And every Saturday morning from then for years to come
my Mum and I would head out for a swim in the blue Datsun.
Off we’d tootle, 6am throughout the 1990s
off to do our morning laps and burn away calories.

Lap on lap, and lap on lap we swam and were so fit
and mum was proud as punch that very soon she’d lost a bit.
Her bathers were so stylish and the boob sat in its place
and after several years of this mum could have won a race.

And still the years they spun and flew and mum and I kept swimming
fit as fiddles, lap on lap and home we’d drive, both grinning.
And hang our towels out on the line and hang our bathers too
all rinsed and clean and then we’d have a cuppa, as you do. morning, like so many Saturdays, our duty done,
mum emptied out her swimming bag, stood standing in the sun.
Her look was rather quizzical. I could not work it out.
She counted up her togs, her towel, but something was left out.

Until, with horror, finally mum cried, ‘I am a fool!
I’ve left my bloody boob alone and sitting at the pool!'
And so we raced, (we were a pair of nutty looking women)
in our bright blue 1200 back to where we’d been a swimmin’.

I begged the lovely poolguard, PLEASE let us in for free!!
With mum, all matter of fact of course, ‘I’ve left my boob here, see!’
Sure enough, when we raced in, sick with fear and worry,
alone, bereft on the changeroom bench going nowhere in a hurry…

sat Bethie’s favourite boosie, stoic, wet and floppy.
She snatched it up off we tootled in our blue jalopy.
And cried until the tears were pools, ‘til the moon rose up that night
and never ever did again that boob leave Bethie’s sight.

Elise Batchelor October 2010 For Pink Ribbon Day

donate at:

Beth Batchelor, circa 1991.

 PS. That bit about the teatowel threats may have been a stretch of the truth. I adore my sister but despite any teatowelled threats, she was never inclined to dry the dishes (Love you Marg).

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