Welcome to a misleadingly titled piece on elective radical mastectomy.

(To those of you hoping for boob pictures, I recommend National Geographic.)

Toward the end of my research on the amazing Amy Cohen, I realized I'd missed the biggest heroic story in her big heroic story.

Amy got bad results from medical tests on her "breast cancer gene." Following her sister's successful treatment for the disease, and remembering her mother's successful treatment in the 1970s, Amy decided she wanted to have her successful breast cancer treatment even before a breast cancer diagnosis.

She had her breasts removed, and replaced by two round lumps of encapsulated saline solution.


Amy Cohen's best quality is fearlessness. You get it from the stories: She's done fear, and she's over it. The grand manifestation of fearlessness, as usual, is an earnest telling of the human experience. She's unconcerned about offending her audience. It's at this point that real, human truth communicates.

And while this audience is expanding for publishing purposes, it's contracting for breast cancer awareness purposes. Amy now spends a lot of time helping other women facing the same predicament. She counsels them one-on-one, telling what to expect emotionally and physically.

Her sense of life's folly shines through these dark moments. She knows that most of the women she counsels will want to feel her up, but many won't feel comfortable asking. So she's begun to volunteer a copped feel to all her mentees.

She tells her mastectomy story to a live audience, here. There's a good punch line: After living in A-cup anonymity for 40 years, Amy now boasts a big, perky pair of twins.

I asked Amy some irreverent questions about boobs. She gave some irreverent answers. (Reverence has no place in life and death dialog. cf. stem cell research bans.)

Smile Politely: Somehow, in researching the Amy story, I missed all references to boobs.

How did I miss all references to boobs? Are there any places you've told this story? If I put "Amy Cohen + boobs" in a web search, I might confuse the search engine as to my motives.

Amy Cohen: I actually had the operation after my book was finished. But PLEASE put Amy Cohen + boobs into your search. I love that anyone would.

RM: Okay, I'll add that to the interview as an interactive thing. Do you want to tell more about Them? Apart from your many trips to 2nd base? Is the scarring similar to regular boob jobs?

AC: I haven't seen that many regular boob jobs (I know, a big character deficit on my part), but it really depends on the hospital and the surgeon, so it's hard to say.

RM: Apart from the mailman remembering your name, have you noticed better treatment in restaurants and boutique retail shops? More smiles from passersby?

AC: While my Korean deli guy did say "you have nice figure!" I don't hear it nearly enough.

RM: Are there organizations/societies women can investigate online (if they're afraid to talk to a doctor)?

AC: BEBRIGHTPINK.ORG is the best resource for any women in the same boat. Thanks for spreading the word!