Boobs. Knockers. Jubblies. Funbags. Mosquito bites. Fried eggs. Wind socks. If you're a woman you'll have had a set of these at some stage of your life. Whether you're hung like Katie Price or as flat as a waifish super-model, you'll have fretted over whether they were too big, too small, too saggy, too pert, nipples too dark, too light, too saucerish, too small.
With a DDD rack, I've been variously called (by friends I might add, sheesh), Titsy Galore, Nikki McWhoppers and Boobaliscious. The fleshy orbs swaying pendulously from my chest (swing low...sweet chariot), have been both the bane of my life and my calling card. I've tried to hide them by shoving them into bras two sizes too small and more rarely displayed some cleavage to garner some male attention. I can't run without bruising my rib-cage and I can't sleep on my stomach. But I have breast fed five children for an accumulated period of six years of my life. And that's something I'm proud of and remember fondly... apart from the mastitis, bites, embarrassing leakage and engorgement.
My boobs have been with me since puberty and have attracted a mate or two, fed some kids and gotten caught under my arms while I walk but I haven't really considered them as anything more than body parts, things previously functional that just hang around doing nothing much at all anymore other than needing more and more support.
But I got a message from a friend a few weeks ago which cast boobies in a different light for me. My friend, Sue, who I've known for thirty years, contacted me to tell me that after a routine mammogram she'd been diagnosed with breast cancer and was scheduled for a mastectomy. I was stunned. Afraid for her. Alarmed. And hit with a huge face-slap of reality. I was also in awe of her positivity and determination to beat the bastard. So the old flappers could be more than a set of sexy headlights. They could also be weapons of mass destruction.
Last year an old acquaintance, singer, Chrissy Amphlett, who fronted the band, The Divinyls, passed away following a long battle with breast cancer, compounded by other health issues. I had been saddened by her loss but focused more on the tragedy of her death than the cause of it. But recently, a campaign in her honour, a tribute and legacy to Chrissy, has been promoted by the NSW Cancer Council . Her international hit, 'I Touch Myself' has been re-recorded in a striking tribute-cover, along with a powerful film clip, by some of Australia's leading female performers. Olivia Newton-John, Katie Noonan, Deborah Conway and Kate Cebrano join colleagues to promote breast cancer awareness.
Also appearing in the black and white clip is Australian music legend, Little Pattie, whose participation and involvement is emotionally charged, her performance, both moving and encouraging. She is Chrissy Amphlett's cousin and was by her side through the final difficult weeks of Chrissie's life. I asked Little Pattie how she managed to find the strength to perform so strongly and powerfully in the clip and recording.
'Chrissy and I always had a mutual pride of one another's work but more than that I was so very proud of the way Chrissy fought her health battle to the end with such courage and in those last moments of clarity I know she would have wanted this to happen. My performance was for her.'
It had to have been a tough gig. The result is astoundingly moving and deeply touching.
The original song 'I Touch Myself,' was a controversial and sexy rock number about...um.. well....masturbation. But the new version is haunting and translates beautifully into a pointed message to women to be in touch with their bodies. Not just their lady gardens but their entire body. Notice change. Listen to warning signs.
My friend, Sue, had no unusual symptoms outside of the late-forty moans about peri-menopause, no family history. No lump. Chrissie, on the other hand, felt a lump and had to insist the doctors investigate as it was initially dismissed.
When it comes to health vigilance, I'm the slackest. Pap smears. Mammograms. I just have never really bothered for years. I avoid doctors like the plague. But Sue's ordeal and my chat with Little Pattie made me realise that life is too precious to throw away through apathy. I have children, people I love, family and friends and it would be selfish of me to put them through a health scare or worse by being too lazy to bother with routine scans and tests. At my age, it's downright irresponsible. Early detection increases your chance of survival.
So I promised Sue and Pattie that I would go and get my mams squished. I did and I'm waiting for the results. Nervously. And I'm off to have a pap smear next week.
As Pattie said, 'It's a quick, brief discomfort as your boobs are flattened but it's so important.'
So next time you're in the shower, lathering up, touch yourself, have a good feel, listen to your body and sing the song. It's Chrissy Amphlett's legacy to you. A gift. A message. In memory of Chrissie, in support of my mate, Sue, and for your own family's sake - go and get your tits sandwich-pressed. It might just save your life.