“Living is Easy with Eyes Closed.”
― John Lennon
In order to be fully prepared for and aware of this disease, we need to have a deeper understanding of the breast; so let’s take a biological look at this pleasurable part of our lover’s anatomy to begin our journey in understanding this disease.
The breast is a tissue overlying the chest (pectoral) muscles. It is made of a specialized tissue that produces milk as well as fatty tissue. The amount of fat determines the size of the breast.
The milk-producing part of the breast is organized into 15 to 20 sections called lobes. Within each lobe are smaller structures, called lobules, where the milk is produced. The milk travels through a network of tiny tubes called ducts. The ducts connect and come together into larger ducts, which eventually exit the skin in the nipple. The dark area of skin surrounding the nipple is called the areola.
Connective tissue and ligaments provide support to the breast and give it its shape. Nerves provide sensation to the breast. The breast also contains blood vessels, lymph vessels, and lymph nodes.
Ok, now let’s be honest. Did you know any of this? Oh sure, you knew about the nipple, and the nerves and the sensation your woman feels, but did you know that the breast was so complex? I am not afraid to admit that when Becky got sick, I didn’t know most of this.
There are many different types of breasts too, information that we, as guys, don’t really need to know about. But, what we do need is to know, and know well, is our wife’s breasts. You can do the self-check for her. If something looks slightly different on one of her breasts, tell her. Don’t wait! Bring this to her attention immediately.
On my wedding night with Becky, as I looked at her breasts, I noticed that the left one was just ever so slightly deformed. Nothing big, but different from her other one. I could tell that she was very self-conscience about it, so I never actually asked her about it, or what happened. Yet the exact place where her small lump the size of a BB first formed was in the area that was slightly deformed. Coincidence? I will never know, because I did not force her to see her oncologist. I didn’t want to embarrass her.
In the next chapter, Dr. Carla Garcia, one of our country’s foremost experts on breast cancer, will dig into the causes and types of breast cancer. But first, I want to go back and take a deeper dive into what we examined in Chapter One, especially now that we have a very different understanding of the breast.
As guys, we all know we are obsessed with, maybe even addicted to, women's breasts. One way we see this obsession is the huge vocabulary guys use when discussing them: boobs, jugs, hooters, melons, headlights, fun bags, globes, knobs, ta-tas, mammaries, chest toys, the girls, and on and on it goes. Personally, I was shocked when I researched the various names that guys have attributed to breasts, and I suppose I was a bit offended as well. Just seems like such disrespect to the woman. Maybe this is because when Becky got sick, her breasts took on a very different meaning to me; or could be that I’m just old school.
This disrespect for women’s breasts is all throughout our culture. Just ask any waitress. She will tell you that low-cut tops that expose some cleavage means better tips. How many women have complained that in conversations with men, the guys look at their breasts, not their faces? Have you done this? I know I have. I have had women tell me that if they are applying for a job, they believe that being “highly qualified” is not as important as having the “biggest breasts” if their boss is a man. Kind of makes the man look shallow, doesn’t it?
Just as some women look for a certain body type or height in men, some guys look for a certain breast size in women. But most men like all breasts, especially those that are attached to the women they're involved with.
UCLA and Cal State Los Angeles found in an online survey of 52,227 heterosexual adults, ages 18 to 65, that 56 percent said they were “satisfied with their partners’ breasts,” which means that 44 percent of men — a large proportion — feel unsatisfied. Many women who get augmented say their husband or boyfriend encouraged or pressured them into it. Shame on those guys.
In this same study among women, only 30 percent felt satisfied with their own breasts. The researchers observed: “Younger and thinner women worried that their breasts were too small. Older and heavier women were concerned about droopiness.”
In fact, 70 percent of women — almost three-quarters — say they're dissatisfied with their breasts and many of them take action. Countless millions of women wear padded bras or choose fashions that will focus the man’s attention away from or toward their breasts, depending on how they feel about their chests.
Breast surgery is the number one cosmetic procedure in the U.S. today. The American Society of Plastic Surgery estimates that every year American women undergo some 400,000 breast augmentations and 150,000 breast reductions. Women who get augmented typically want a cup or two increase, most typically from A or B to C. Women who want reductions typically go one or two cup sizes down.
Ok, I think I have made my point.
As I wrote in Chapter One, I still wonder if my obsession and addiction to Becky’s breasts caused her to ignore that very small lump she found, afraid that I might not love her anymore if she had to have it removed to spare her life. She did ignore it and it did take her life.
I understand that as guys, our breast obsession is clearly sexual and that our woman's breasts are among our favorite sex toys. This is normal and healthy for intimacy.
I’m just saying that we all must be very careful going forward about how much attention and value we place on our woman’s breasts. We don’t want to be the reason she is dissatisfied with her chest, and we certainly don’t want her to hide from us any irregularity that may occur in either breast — that could change your lives forever.
At the risk of losing our flow, I am going to switch gears a bit for the next two chapters because I think it is important for you to hear from two people who are very powerful experts in their fields.
Chapter Three is written by Dr. Carla Garcia, D.O.M., a well- recognized authority on breast screening and my foundation’s Medical Director, in addition to just being a really cool and smart lady! She will tell us how breast cancer starts and where breast cancer comes from.
Chapter Four is written by Mr. Khevin Barnes whose expertise is that he survived breast cancer. Yep, guys get breast cancer too, which is the title of his chapter. His story is a powerful one!
I promise I will be back for Chapter Five through the end of the book because there is still so much we have to do.
Please know that by contributing a chapter to my book, neither Dr. Garcia nor Khevin necessarily endorse my opinions, viewpoints, or beliefs. We only need to agree on one thing: Preventing breast cancer, which we all do, wholeheartedly.
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