Beauty after a Double Mastectomy

This week is the first time I’ve felt “normal”. I haven’t had physical therapy due to my therapist being gone on vacation. I was extremely worried and nervous because I loved when she got in there and broke things up. She stretched and pulled on my arm, especially my right arm.

I’ve felt pretty amazing, not in too much pain, and for the first time I’m actually getting 3+ hours of sleep at a crack. I haven’t felt this good since before surgery. It only took about two months! Don’t get me wrong, I still have pain from the drain incisions (and feel it the most when I attempt to swim and do ab stuff) and don’t have complete range of motion. However, I swam twice this week (with fins on so I wouldn’t drown), ran a few times, and biked on the trainer twice. Swimming is weird and I don’t even know how to explain it. Feels like the top pec muscle (the one now right under the skin) is about to pop out of the chest! Oh…and I did some strength training with some medicine balls…

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I’m baaaaack!!!! Balancing/Planking on four medicine balls while doing push-ups is actually one of my favorite exercises. I did a push-up and held the plank for maybe 15 seconds…but, I did  it. I was told I may not be able to do push-ups post-surgery which wasn’t something I wanted to hear. Well, don’t tell me I can’t do something because I’ll find a way to prove I can do it!

Anyway, this blog post is actually about something that I’ve been thinking about recently. I’ve had many people comment about how I’ve made it appear that it was an easy decision to do the surgery and recovery wasn’t a big deal. So, here goes – my vulnerable side.

I was struggling with beauty yesterday as I got ready for this executive women’s gala night. I wore a dress to work last week and I was actually insecure wearing it because I had no boobs to fill the top part! It hung on me and, well, I haven’t worn that dress since. I’m very limited in selections right now because I don’t feel comfortable wearing a dress that I would have normally filled out quite nicely on the top, is a scoop neck top, or have some cleavage showing.

I had my outfit for this event picked out in advance…but you know the drill…it doesn’t look quite right so you pull something else out of the closet and try it on…before you know it you have a pile of clothes on the bed and you go back to the original outfit. Yep, that was me. My dresses didn’t fit me in the chest area and it looked bad. I threw the first outfit back on – navy blue dress with lace and yellow heels. (Oh, one nice thing about choosing an outfit in general? Not having to find the right bra to wear with the outfit! I don’t wear bras anymore – not when I run, bike, workout or simply out and about. These firm jugs don’t move or go anywhere!)

I was frustrated…

I reminded myself again that beauty isn’t in a dress or boos; it’s what comes from within. As I was getting ready, Martina McBride’s song “I’m Gonna Love You Through It” started playing on my iPod (lyrics below). I burst into tears. I could completely relate to this song, not in the cancer aspect, but with the phone call I got when I was told I was BRCA1, knowing the gene was faulty and I would get breast cancer someday…I can’t relate with the having a husband or kids thing, but I did this to live and be there for my family and friends. I don’t have a husband or boyfriend that’s my rock while going through this, but I have amazing friends (and family) that have been there for me through everything. I’m not alone while going through this.

There’s a line in the song that says something about wearing baggy shirts and wanting to be a woman again. I cried harder after hearing that. I miss my boobs, but don’t miss anything about having to wear a bra with them. I’m a woman regardless of having boobs or not.

“When you feel lost and scared to death, Like you can’t take one more step.” Believe me I felt lost many times throughout the last few months and felt like I could barely put one foot in front of the other. There’s another line in the song about surgery. I made it through the surgery and yep…they caught things in time. My atypical cells in both breasts were going to turn into cancer. If I did nothing, I’d most likely have cancer in a year or two and be my sister.

I listened to the song a few more times and cried some more. It’s totally weird the emotions I’ve gone through pre/post-surgery and what has triggered me to cry! I’m not one to just start crying randomly. You have to push me past a point to get me to cry! I don’t even know how to explain it, but I know my BRCA and double mastectomy sistah’s understand!

What is true beauty? True beauty to me isn’t having nice, full boobs, a big booty, or being stick skinny. I keep reminding myself that just because I don’t have my real boobs anymore and I’m smaller than I was pre-surgery, it doesn’t mean I’ve lost my beauty. I’ve lost part of my feminine body parts and that’s it. I haven’t lost my spunk, personality, confidence, strength, grace, etc etc. I’m sure if I didn’t tell anyone about my double mastectomy, no one would have guessed or known differently.

I’ve caught myself staring in the mirror, scrutinizing myself, studying my scars and disgusted with the way the one rock sits and how the skin around it collapses…I don’t think I’ll do fat grafting to “fix” those imperfections. I’m okay with those imperfections. Honestly. Even despite that one bad day I may have. It’s part of the process. Nothing’s perfect in life and there are no guarantees. Whoever I end up with will accept those boob imperfections and thank me for taking control and being proactive.

Beauty isn’t just about the appearance. It comes from the inside. I am beautiful and confident in my own skin. I am okay with my scars and everything that has come with the territory of this surgery. Beauty lies within me and comes from my heart and soul.  I’m beautiful just the way I am – firm jugs, imperfections and all.

“The beauty of a woman is not in the clothes she wears, the figure that she carries, or the way she combs her hair. The beauty of a woman is seen in her eyes, because that is the doorway to her heart, the place where love resides. True beauty in a woman is reflected in her soul. It’s the caring that she lovingly gives, the passion that she shows & the beauty of a woman only grows with passing years.”

― Audrey Hepburn

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My amazing friend, Jen and I at the event

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My favorite guy, Roy! He’s owns the manufacturer of the products we sell. We’re concert buddies!

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Martina McBride’s “I’m Gonna Love You Through It”

She dropped the phone and burst into tears
The doctor just confirmed her fears
Her husband held it in and held her tight
Cancer don’t discriminate or care if you’re just 38
With three kids who need you in their lives
He said, “I know that you’re afraid and I am, too
But you’ll never be alone, I promise you”

When you’re weak, I’ll be strong
When you let go, I’ll hold on
When you need to cry, I swear that I’ll be there to dry your eyes
When you feel lost and scared to death,
Like you can’t take one more step
Just take my hand, together we can do it
I’m gonna love you through it.

She made it through the surgery fine
They said they caught it just in time
But they had to take more than they planned
Now it’s forced smiles and baggy shirts
To hide what the cancer took from her
But she just wants to feel like a woman again
She said, “I don’t think I can do this anymore”
He took her in his arms and said “That’s what my love is for”

When you’re weak, I’ll be strong
When you let go, I’ll hold on
When you need to cry, I swear that I’ll be there to dry your eyes
When you feel lost and scared to death,
Like you can’t take one more step
Just take my hand, together we can do it
I’m gonna love you through it.

And when this road gets too long
I’ll be the rock you lean on
Just take my hand, together we can do it
I’m gonna love you through it.
I’m gonna love you through it.

Songwriters ISAACS, SONYA M. / HAYSLIP, BEN / YEARY, JIMMY

Published by Lyrics © Warner/Chappell Music, Inc.

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