The first time I noticed the blood on the inside of my bra, I figured it was barbecue sauce. (You know the old adage “Is it blood or is it barbecue sauce?”) I figured it was from a pulled-pork sandwich I must have eaten, in the manner I usually ingest things, shoving them into my face, wet meat sliding down my shirt, sauce seeping through my shirt and staining my bra.
The second time I noticed the blood on the inside of my bra, I figured it was paint or something. (You know the old adage “Is it blood or is it paint or something?”)
The third time I noticed the blood on the inside of my bra, I knew it was blood because I saw the dark brownish-red syrup gushing from my nipple. It really freaked me out, which is ironic considering how familiar a sight this is to me. I spend all my days drawing nipples squirting blood. As a part-time stand-up comedian and part-time illustrator, that’s kind of my whole thing—drawing pepperonis on a pizza that are actually nipples squirting out blood, drawing stems on a cactus that are actually penises squirting out cum, drawing the holes of a conch shell that are actually buttholes squirting out RC Cola. What I’m saying is, that with all these horribly disgusting drawings of gushing fluids, I seemed to have really brought this bloody-nipple thing upon myself.
The doctors at urgent care stared at me worriedly. They asked if there was a history of breast cancer in my family. They asked if I knew whether or not I had the BRCA gene mutation that increases your risk of breast cancer. I said I didn’t know and that I didn’t want to stress out my mother by asking her about it, considering her father had died just a week earlier.
I was shuffled around the Northwestern Medicine complex, sent from cancer specialist to cancer specialist—they covered my boob in jelly and put it in metal clamps; they poked and prodded it with rods and wands. All the while, I dreaded telling my mom. But the doctors said I had to, because the bloody nipple did not look promising. Finally, I called her, blubbering that I was so sorry for the horrible timing, so sorry that she was already dealing with so much, but that I was scared for my health.