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Boobs to Die For

I love my boobs. I'm going to use them every day until they start to kill me.

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Last month I spent one Friday night sprawled topless on my bed while a guy named Joe twiddled my nipples until I came over and over again. My eyes rolled back in my head and my whole body bucked and twisted as he squeezed and rolled and flicked. "Oh my God," Joe kept saying, as I moaned and clawed at the sheets, "I can't believe you can do this."

My super-erogenous nipples have always been something of a shock to men, and my ability to orgasm based solely on their stimulation is seen as some kind of bizarre talent, like those people who can touch their tongue to their nose, or girls who are double-jointed. My ex-boyfriend used to idly flick one of my nips while we lay in bed in the morning, and when I winced, my back arching in an involuntary spasm of pleasure, he would raise his eyebrows and say, " Really?" his Doubting-Thomas tone unmistakable. "Yes," I'd tell him, feeling defensive. But what I meant was, Yes. Yes!

My breasts arrived right on time in sixth grade, and within two years they had grown into their full, glorious DD cup. From the start it was clear that I was supposed to be self-conscious about my boobs, hiding my bras and complaining to my friends about how embarrassing it was to find guys staring at my chest, but secretly I rejoiced in my buxom bounty. My body seemed to get everything wrong — I was too short, too round, too muscular — but finally my Eastern-European roots were smiling on me. Big, beautiful breasts. Thank God.

Those same Eastern-European roots provided a significant drawback. When I was in fifth grade I first heard the word lumpectomy in a conversation between my mother and my grandmother, who was about to undergo the procedure. I learned all kinds of other words that summer, including radiation,chemotherapy, and biopsy. On spelling tests that year we were asked to choose a difficult word we found in the dictionary or in our everyday lives and add it to the pre-assigned spelling lists. So I was ten when I learned how to spell bilateral mastectomy, though I had no idea what it meant.

My grandmother's breast cancer was treated effectively, and for a solid decade my breasts were an unadulterated joy. Sometimes my friends would complain about the frustrations of having huge boobs, and though I could sympathize to a degree, none of the downsides ever seemed that bad to me. Yes, bras and especially sports bras were difficult to find and very expensive, but it was a price I was willing to pay for the advantages of having my DDs.

When I was twenty-two I got my right nipple pierced. My friends were getting tattoos on their lower backs, but I couldn't imagine picking a design I'd have to live with for the rest of my life. The silver barbell I chose was my little punk-rock secret, never failing to elicit a gasp from the men I brought home. Sometimes guys would ask if it hurt to get it pierced, and I answered honestly: a little, but it was worth it.

That same year my aunt had an abnormal mammogram, and eventually she had a lumpectomy followed by radiation. It was becoming increasingly clear that my genes were stacked against me in the breast-cancer department, but the news didn't seem all that bad. Breast cancer was highly treatable. Practically everyone I knew had an aunt or a grandmother or a mother who'd had breast cancer at some point, and most of them were fine. I bought things with pink ribbons on them in October to be supportive. My aunt went into remission.

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