You wouldn’t believe that it had never defined me because, once it was gone, I felt its loss immensely. Life is that simple, that complicated.
Major decisions at that time focused on where to meet for lunch, what pest was eating the passionfruit vine, which book from the library to read first. Were the grandchildren being exposed to too many electronic gizmos and not enough old-fashioned print?
Oh, the importance of such weighty matters. The treachery of complacency. All paled into insignificance with the diagnosis.
The move from the family home of forty-five years was traumatic. With so many years of memories to capture and preserve, my resilience was already low so the extensive mirrors in the new bathroom were not reassuring for a well-used body. And there it was, a mark so small.
‘The puckering flesh here is not normal,’ they said. I tried not to listen. Filled the cavity in my head with inconsequential nothings. Should we have fish or lamb for dinner?
‘We must act quickly – are you emotionally prepared for this – how does your partner feel about a mastectomy?’ Words buzzed like flies in my ears.
Several months later I was sharing the shower with my small granddaughter. With a gentle finger she traced the giant wound, the twenty-centimetre scar across my chest.
‘Did it really, really hurt when the shark bit you, Gran?’
So it did define me after all. I was more, not less. It made me strong, an Amazon in the eyes of this little beholder.