Go Ahead, Cop a Feel

Go Ahead, Cop a Feel
“Go ahead, feel them,” I said to the young man sheepishly looking at my breasts. He was clean-cut, awkward-looking, and at least 20 years younger than I am. And I could tell he really wanted to cop a feel. The truth is, I wanted him to, if for no other reason than it would be way better than watching him hide in the corner. “It’s OK,” I said again. “That is, if it’s OK with her.” I glanced over my shoulder at an authoritative-looking woman who clearly was in charge of the whole situation. “Fine with me,” she said. The tenderfoot’s face lit up and the gaggle of women huddled around me parted like the Red Sea. Tentatively, with the gentility of a monk, the young man’s fingers touched my skin. “It’s this one,” I said, indicating my right breast. “See if you can find it.” He looked at the ceiling and concentrated. At that moment, it was like he was no longer in the room. He was somewhere else, maybe in a class or a laboratory, and he started massaging me with textbook precision. Suddenly, his demeanor changed. “Right here,” he said. “You found it.” I didn’t point out to him that my tumor is huge, that my breasts are small, and that a trained monkey could probably have found it, too. “I’ve never actually felt a tumor before,” he said, meeting my eyes. “Thank you.” I was at Stanford Health Care being prepped for tattooing. No, I wasn’t getting a butterfly on my ass or the Chinese symbol for hope on my forearm. I’d be getting seven pin-prick sized tattoos that would tell radiation therapists where to zap me with life-saving X-rays after I finished chemo and surgery. In the meantime, a lot of people looked at and felt my naked body. The first time I arrived at Stanford, what seemed li
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