Standing naked before the mirror, I look at my body. I’m not sure I like what I see. Along with the unexpected pounds that have attached themselves to my body since Tamoxifen, I also see evidence that time is marching on. Wrinkles have etched my face. No longer am I youthful and pert.
My eyes have fixated upon my torso. As I look, I could choose to be overcome with self-pity and loathing. I have traveled that path many times before. (I am sure we all have) But instead of allowing my scarred and disfigured body to dictate how I think, I choose to look through a happier set of lens (most of the time). Instead of seeing what I now lack, I choose to focus on what I have gained. It’s a difficult choice. It’s one I must make on a daily basis. If I don’t, I won’t survive.
Breast cancer didn’t take my breasts. I made the choice to give them up so I could live. No longer would I need mammograms because I wouldn’t have my breasts. It was not a difficult choice for me to make. Not only did I choose to have my cancerous breast removed, I also chose to have my healthy breast removed. I didn’t want to live my life in constant worry thinking that one day, cancer would attack my healthy breast and I’d need to begin the process all over again.
The long, horizontal scars are a constant reminder of what cancer took away from me. But I am also reminded of what it has given. Cancer has given me a newfound strength and resolve. Although I didn’t choose it, it was thrust upon me. I had to learn to dig deep. I had to learn to fight. And in so doing, I found that I was braver than I ever thought possible.
In the beginning, immediately after surgery, I was devastated. I felt ugly and broken. But thankfully, those feelings have passed.
My reflection in the mirror shows me that I am alive.
After surviving breast cancer many women find themselves waiting to return to the person they once were. To regain the normal of yesterday.
Yesterday is gone. It is not coming back. And all I can say is good riddance. Because I never want to relive my diagnosis and/or bilateral mastectomy again!
The truth is, the social, emotional, physical and sexual ramifications of life during and after breast cancer treatment can wreak havoc on the feminine psyche.
Because of the changes that take place long term, a woman often no longer views herself as whole or attractive.
We find it difficult to accept the new self, all while feeling guilty that such wants are vain in the face of something as monumental as breast cancer.
A woman’s positive self worth is the crucial element to how she navigates and contributes to the world around her. And there are plenty of ways to help raise your spirits and self esteem.
Beautiful Self is a charitable organization that provides phototherapy and other support to women impacted by breast cancer. Founded in 2014, the Beautiful Self Project has helped women during and after breast cancer treatment rebuild their self esteem and sense of beauty.
The Feeling Beautiful Again program provides women going through breast cancer a beauty care package of HOPE! Included are items that make women smile and feel like a true woman again. Think of how a simple touch of lip gloss can make you feel pretty, or how blush can help brighten the complexion of a cancer patient. These items and others, are included within the beauty bags and are distributed to our hospital partners nationwide.