I remember when I first really noticed my breasts — fourth grade. Mom took me to JC Penny’s to buy my first brassiere. It was fall, the day before I’d make my first and last cheerleader tryout. I was nervous about that, but more nervous that I was growing up. The sales person, an older woman with white hair and eyeglasses on a chain, helped me pick out a small, white training bra. I was so proud.

On Tuesday, I will undergo a mastectomy to remove my left breast. It’s not that I want to do it, but this cancer has made it impossible to continue living with this part of my body. I wish it could have been different. If I had caught this disease earlier, maybe I would have just had a small part of my breast removed. Now I find myself in the latter stages and my breast has become a threat to my life.

I have always been so happy with my breasts (except for that one instance when I thought they were lopsided). They have never been too small, or too large.  Before pregnancies, during pregnancies and after the birth of each of my three children, I could always count on my breasts to bounce back and be the perfect pair that they were. Unlike other women, I never, ever thought about enlarging them (although, there was that stupid guy who’d once suggested it) or lifting them.

I never disrespected them or allowed others to call them silly names like “ta-tas.” I have always given them firm support throughout our life together. When I moved to Paris, I was in heaven when I shopped in luxurious lingerie stores such as Aubade and La Perla. Nothing was too good for them.

Another part of my new reality is that I am getting an implant to replace my breast. Of course, this fabricated material can never really take its place. I will never love it as much as I love my real breast. I’m not so worried about the operation, but I am worried about how I will feel when I wake up and my breast will be gone.

If I had to address my breast directly, I’d say: “None of this is your fault and I will miss you terribly.” From now on when I look in the mirror, I will not see it. It will be so weird to reach for it and no longer feel it there. My breasts helped to make me feel sexy and beautiful. I don’t know if I truly appreciated that as much as I do now, on the eve of losing one of them. To be honest, I’m trying to be brave and strong now, but once reality sinks in, I don’t know what I’m going to do.

I guess I just have to continue to live my life to the fullest — to dance, sing, run, play, go to the beach — to do all of the things I’ve been doing for the past four decades. No matter what, my breast will always be a part of me.

I’d like to think that my breast will go to a sort of breast heaven in the sky. If there is such a place, maybe they can ask God to send us a cure.