Breast Cancer and Other Taboo Topics for Your Next Asian Family Get-Together

So my mom has breast cancer.

And if you know anything about Asian culture, then it won’t be a shock to you that I didn’t find out about it until my mom was in the hospital, having surgery to remove it.  The Information Highway – my mom is not.  Therefore it’s ironic to find out about my mom’s breast cancer on the Information Highway, itself (i.e. Facebook).

My mom grew up as a devout Catholic in post World War II Philippines, where women wore dresses, men wore pants, Frank Sinatra and Perry Como dominated the radio waves, and children were seen but not heard.  So you can imagine my mom’s shock when after 17 hours of labor, I pop out of the womb, asking, “Eww, what’s this stuff on me?”  Her shock and my questions only increased in frequency and amount from there.

Courtesy of the AmAsian Science blog.

Courtesy of the AmAsian Science blog

Like most moms, mine tried to guilt me into doing things the way she would have desired them to be done.

Example: “Sigue, don’t listen to me.  No, don’t help me.  Even though I might end up on the streets in the freezing cold with only the clothes on my back…I’ll be fine.  I’m glad I survived 17 hours of labor to ensure that you have a good life.”

Knowing how conservative my mom is gives you a better understanding as to why her response to my hair being spiked and dyed blue in college was…less than favorable.

So as my husband and I entered my mom’s hospital room to rush to her side and find out what the <beep> was going on, a nurse greeted us.

Nurse: “Your mom is doing fine and is resting now.  The operation went well.”

Me: “Thank you so much!”

Nurse:  “We do have to talk about her post surgery care, though.”

Me: “Sure, anything.”

Nurse: “She can’t get that area wet and can only take sponge baths for a couple of weeks.”

Me: “Definitely.”

Nurse: “And her implants will have to be drained twice a day.”

Me: “Got it…Wait, what?”

Nurse: “Her implants will have to be drained twice a day.”

Me: “What implants?  Like something you guys inserted to help with the healing process?”

Nurse: Pauses, then says, “Your mom had breast implants that she asked us to remove in addition to the surgery.”

Me: “…What?!”

My mom had breast implants?!  Forget the blue hair!  My mom, the Virgin Mary, had a boob job!

My brothers and I have since tried to pinpoint exactly when my mom had it done, so we’ve narrowed it down to a few possible timelines, but nothing has been substantiated.

My cousins and close friends have asked, “Didn’t you notice?”

But really, who stares at the boobs of one’s own mom?  I certainly don’t!  And on top of that…ha, no pun intended…my mom has always dressed conservatively, so it’s not like they were ever…”on display”…thankfully.

So.

If you know anything about Asian culture, then it won’t be a shock to you that I didn’t know my mom had breast implants until after a stranger told me that she had them removed.

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One thought on “Breast Cancer and Other Taboo Topics for Your Next Asian Family Get-Together

  1. Angela , thanks for sharing. I enjoy reading it. So true, there are some stuff in my family that I have to hear it in a strange way…..

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