Judy Blume has counseled millions of women through getting their first period, losing their virginity, and dealing with bad boyfriends, friendships, and divorce, so it's unsurprising that she's able to tackle the topic of breast cancer with her characteristically witty real talk, too. Except, this time, it's her own life she's writing about: Blume posted a long piece today on her blog about her recent breast cancer diagnosis and subsequent mastectomy.
Before all you Blume lovers freak out, don't worry: it's been a month since her surgery and she's doing really well. Here's what happened: Blume, 74, found out she had breast cancer during a routine ultrasound which led to a core biopsy, which she tried to reschedule because she had a "dream summer" ahead of her — an artists' colony retreat in a castle in Umbria. "A castle!" Blume wrote. "Sound too good to be true? Uh huh…" (Judy Blume, you're amazing. I'll try to refrain from adding this parenthetical onto the end of every paragraph in this post.)
Blume was shocked by the diagnosis — she had no history of breast cancer in her family and mantains an extremely healthy lifestyle — but sprang into action instead of breaking down, which she said made her feel better, and decided to get a mastectomy with reconstruction instead of a lumpectomy followed by radiation. (She doesn't have to get chemo.)
Leave it to America's #1 expert on growing boobs (that sounds creepy, but you know what we mean) to be chill enough to crack a joke about her small pair to her breast surgeon:
I have small breasts (a la Margaret Simon). A-cups? The breast surgeon asked at our first meeting. She nailed it. I told her the exercises didn't work for me. Not sure she got my attempt at a joke. Like Margaret I used to think bigger was better. But my dense, small breasts aged well. They stayed perky while other body parts sagged. I'd become quite fond of them. Still, the idea of mastectomy wasn't a difficult emotional decision for me (again, these are very personal reactions and decisions). Maybe because my breasts have never defined my sexuality. Who knows?
(Judy Blume, you're amazing.)
Blume underwent surgery a month ago, and says she's doing fine now and looking forward to her life getting back to normal. She has some sound advice — "This didn't show up in a mammo or in physical exams, and I'm checked by doctors four times a year. Even the breast surgeon couldn't feel this one. If you have dense breast tissue ask your radiologist about having a sonogram." — but seems to be recovering from the emotional trauma of the past few months:
As I've told my friends who've also been treated for breast cancer, I've joined The Club - not one I wanted to join or even thought I would ever be joining - but here I am. I'm part of this Sisterhood of the Traveling Breast Cells (apologies to Ann Brashares). Medical diagnoses can leave you feeling alone and scared. When it comes to breast cancer you're not alone, and scary though it is, there's a network of amazing women to help you through it.
(JUDY BLUME, YOU'RE AMAZING.)