For weeks we have been searching for the title in English for Tómatelo a Pecho.
The phrase does not translate. The direct translation is “Take it to Breast” and the closest meaning is “Take it to Heart” (which would be a great title for a book about heart disease).
On Monday, I was working with my mother, my colleague Amanda, and an expert translator and long-time friend Maria Teresa, to try to develop a title. We were making little progress.
Mariana (Maha) – my 6 –year old kiddler – came skipping over and said, “Mummy I know a title” and out popped “Beauty without the breast”. At first I thought she had said Beauty and the Beast and I started to explain why this was not a good choice. She vehemently corrected me, “No, no Mummy. That was my idea last week. I mean, Beauty WITHOUT the breast because you don’t have a breast and you are still beautiful. People with cancer are just as beautiful as other people.”
The four of us just stared at Maha amazed at the depth and simplicity of her vision.
Since last Monday I have had more time to reflect on the many meanings behind Maha´s book title. I think she is referring to her version of Beauty and the Beast – the beast being my cancer. At the same time, the beast has been transformed through the love shared by mother and daughter into something beautiful because it has brought us to share many precious moments of mutual appreciation.
Yet, Maha remains always afraid – as do I - of the return of the beast. She often asks me if the cancer can come back or if I can get cancer again. We now have a deal – I have promised to always tell her the truth about my cancer and to hide nothing even if it returns. In exchange I ask her to deposit in me the fear she is harboring.
Maha truly understands that a woman without a breast (or breasts) (or hair) is beautiful because of the inner strength they radiate through their will to survive. She also knows that the men in our lives can perceive us as beautiful: her father gave us all the great gift of telling both his daughters that their bald, one-breasted mother was beautiful to him.
In Beauty without the Breast, Maha also discovered an interesting twist on words and letters that I know she did not have in mind. BwoB – is a slightly off-balance word that suggest "one-breastedness" and speaks to the beauty and depth of asymmetry.