My first mission was to cut off my waist-long hair and have it made into a wig. I couldn't bear the thought of wearing something that wasn’t me. For the longest time, though, I did without it, wearing scarves and hats, and cultivating an exotic look. But soon I was too cold and had to wear the wig. Finally, when I had not a single hair on my head, there was no way to keep the wig on. So I wore colorful, tail-streaming headbands - Indian-style. My first little victory. My hair grew back with a vengeance, thicker and wavier than ever. I still wear headbands from time to time, a reminder and a smile.
I returned to my daily swimming at the gym. Timidly. At first, I went over late at night, when I knew the locker room would be empty. I undressed and dressed under a sweatshirt, maneuvering my clothes like Houdini. Each night I became more daring and went earlier and earlier. Finally I was changing and swimming as I always had. Another little victory. But I couldn't help wondering: if the incidence of breast cancer was one in nine, where, in my fifteen years of swimming, were all the women with mastectomies? Why had I never seen one in the locker room? My fear was born of theirs, as was my sense of disfigurement and embarrassment. But now I had chosen otherwise, and so my victory came, gradually and nourishing. - Carol