My understanding of strength was given a physical form through wrestling. It is world of artifice just like any other world of entertainment that appreciates absurdity. If you believe it, it is real for you. Characters like Batista and Rey Mysterio’s charismatic displays of strength left a powerful impression on me, because I was a scrappy, innocent youth that was a fan of anything that made the impossible seem possible.
Around the same time in my youth, my mother and grandmother were both diagnosed with breast cancer. It was all a blur to me, as I didn’t understand the weight of the illness disguised as doctor’s appointments. It never occurred to me how bad cancer was because my grandma and mom went about their daily lives with incredibly convincing acts of painless normalcy. Much like the wrestling world, I believed in what they fed me. One day my mother stood in front of her bedroom mirror with a black plastic bag. She pulled out a few wigs and tried them on as we giggled. There she was, trying on different characters, switching between face and heel, like Rey Mysterio pulling on luchadore masks. Only later did I recognize her silent strength of battling cancer not once but twice, losing her hair, taking care of seven people in the house, while working a full-time job.
My first brush with my grandmother’s cancer was when she pulled me into the bedroom. She was changing, and removed her blouse. I didn’t want to look. I was embarrassed and shocked at the sight of her beige colored bra. However, my grandma had not a drop of shame. Brimming with confidence, she said, “They removed both of my breasts. But it was necessary!” I saw a flash of purple scars. She was so strong and fierce, as if she just won the title for Heavyweight Champion. My grandmother held her bra up, like Batista with sweat dripping down his popping veins as he lifts the golden belt over his head.
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