Bookends: Here's the text of an essay I... - SHARE Breast Canc...

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Here's the text of an essay I wrote for InMotion Magazine's My Amputee Hero, called "Bookends." (It's in the November/December 2016 issue, page 14, It's about the camaraderie between two "amputees." Hope you like it...

My Amputee Hero: Tina Brown

by Catherine Gigante-Brown

My amputee hero is my cousin Tina Brown. In 2012, Tina lost part of her right leg due to complications from diabetes, which she’d had most of her life. It was a difficult transition for Tina but she re-learned how to walk with a prosthesis, learned how to climb stairs, learned how to adapt, adjust.

Adjusting to life with a prosthesis in her 50s hasn’t been easy for Tina but she takes it as it comes, enjoying nature, spending time with her family, and gardening.

A few months later, I lost my left breast to cancer. After my mastectomy, Tina became my “Amputee Cheerleader.” Although losing a breast isn’t the same as losing a limb, it’s still a body part. Most people don’t understand how fragmented and “less than” this can make you feel. But Tina did. She called me regularly to check in and gave me the kind of caring only people who’ve lost a piece of themselves can know. Tina helped me come to terms with my new reality; she helped me heal emotionally. She’s inspired me to keep on keeping on.

Since Tina had been a nurse for more than 30 years, she’s always there for me with practical medical advice to calm my fears. Having her in my life helped me through a very difficult time post-breast cancer. She showed me, by example, that feeling sorry for yourself isn’t an option.

My cousin Tina even inspired me to write this poem (which made her cry!). As a writer, I take great pride reading “Bookends” at open mike nights every chance I get because it’s a great way for Tina to inspire others.


for Tina

That year

was not an easy one

for us.

You lost

part of your right leg.

I lost

my left breast.

But you were

my cheerleader,

talking on the telephone

in kitchens and bedrooms

across town,

of the sort of loss

that few knew:

loss of self.

But still,

here we are,




4 Replies

Thanks so much for telling us about how your cousin helped you. I love the poem! Others I am sure have similar stories about friends and relatives who inspired them. I hope they will share their stories, too.

Thank you! I do hope other people share their stories of how people helped them heal. Sometimes all we have is to lean on each other...and that's a lot!

Thanks for sharing this heartfelt story. May everyone who experiences a loss of some kind to disease (limb, breast, a loved one) have someone like your cousin, to inspire, support and root you on!

Thanks so much!