Breasts in Paris

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http://www.flickr.com/photos/kristin-and-adam/ / CC BY-NC 2.0

I have the most beautiful breasts in Paris.

This is not just a silly comment or a personal opinion. It is a medical fact. I know it to be true because recently my French radiologist said these words to me.

He probably says them to 100 women a day, six days a week, but hey—at my age, we take what we can get.

I do most of my medical checkups in Paris. I lived there for seven years and I love my team of medical experts. Some of them speak English; some do not. While I have nothing against American doctors (there are seven of them in my family), I get a sense of personal caring with my team. I guess this is the sense that comes in established relationships.

I used to have my mammogram each March, on the anniversary of my mother’s death. She died of breast cancer when she was 52. They were always formalities and celebrations of her memory . . . until they weren’t. One March a few years ago, the doctor asked me to step into his office.

We all know what that means.

Although the conversation was in French (and I am not fluent), the word “tumor” is the word “tumor,” and I quickly understood that I had three tumors: bilateral. I was to return in two days for the needle biopsy.

I say with pride that I did not totally freak out. I was also extremely grateful for the French system and the fact that everything could be done so quickly. I was told to expect the results immediately after the “punctures.” How many women do we know who have had to wait for weeks in the nowhere land of not-knowing? I praised French medicine and made my survival plan.

When the cytologist walked into the room, I explained to him that I was American and a very direct person. I said I was at peace with whatever the results were and that I planned to have a double mastectomy and enormous implants.

“How American,” he said with a delighted sneer.

The punctures weren’t a lot of fun, but the wait for results was short. The doctor stood in the doorway of the surgical suite and said, “Madame Gershman, I have some bad news for you.”

I gripped the table, ready to take it like a man.

“You don’t get those implants after all!”

And so began my regular trips to Paris twice a year to be felt up by an adorable middle-aged doctor. After two years, I dropped down to once a year—January so I can also shop the sales.

My brother, an oncologist, has suggested that it is important to have the same team follow you and read the film, because so much of the trick is in the reading. This means, of course, that I am forced to go to Paris to the cute radiologist on the rue du Bac on a regular basis. Gee, poor me.

Suzy Gershman with her dog Junior Mint.

Suzy Gershman is the author of the Born to Shop series of travel guides, available on Amazon. According to her January checkup, her tumors have not changed and are considered benign, and her breasts are quite beautiful. Read her blog, Born to Shop Lady.

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