Exactly 365 days ago on April 11th, 2017, I remember walking into the Cancer Institute in Little Rock, Arkansas around 5:30am. It was so early, but I knew I’d be comatose on an O.R. table soon. Cameras were following me down the hallways since Inside Edition was covering the story. I was led into a changing room where I put on compression socks and a chic blue hat. A nurse stuck an IV in my arm and handed me Marinol to swallow, sort of like an FDA approved form of marijuana, if you will. I started feeling really good about the whole process here. I kissed my parents goodbye and was wheeled into the operating room. The last thing I remember is laughing with my breast surgeon who was wearing a Hello Kitty cap. Good times, good times.
Seven hours later, I woke up.
It’s almost impossible to describe the pain. I could show photos that would give you a better idea, but they are more than graphic. Corpse-like or losing a bear fight are accurate descriptions of what I looked like, but having my chest detach from my body is what it felt like. It’s funny to remember the feeling of getting out of that hospital bed for the first time, but it’s almost as if my mind has since gone through this weird case of amnesia. Not that I’ve gone through child birth, but I feel like women forget about the pain as time goes on. We are badasses like that, I know, but it’s as if the magic outweighs the trauma. Some people get new babies. Other people get new boobs.
Isn’t the human body the most amazing thing? A year later, I’m back doing the same workouts, just in different sports bras 🙂 I remember being so frustrated with my yoga practice towards the end of last year, but I can finally do chaturanga again among other asanas, and I’m getting more comfortable spending time on my stomach. I can’t fall asleep in this position yet, but I’m determined to go unconsciously comfortable in it one day soon.
I didn’t realize how much work chest muscles do in order to preform little tasks. Opening doors and all sorts of bottles isn’t necessarily easy anymore. Nothing pisses me off more than a child proof pill container. When I exercise or stand in a weird position, sometimes my boobs ripple, but then I remember that I have a 1% chance of being diagnosed with breast cancer in my life, and that’s pretty fucking cool. I think the two most important things to be aware of in this situation are support systems and a healthy body image/self love/acceptance. Nobody can walk through this alone, and with the help of amazing family, friends and social media strangers, I was able to bounce back quickly. I’ve also grown up with a healthy outlook on body image. My parents raised three daughters, and I never once remember a scale ever being in the house. Obsessing over numbers only drives insanity. The positive attitude I hold towards my own physical being helped me look in the mirror after the fact and continue to like what I saw. Cool scars. Battle wounds. Badges of honor. Really strange yet unique tattoos with a story 🙂
Spoiler alert – a close up of my foobs is upon you…
Now that that’s out of the way, this leads me to another important, yet awkward, realization.
Dating after a double mastectomy can be really weird. I can tell my story all day for advocacy and awareness reasons, but to tell a potential partner about what to expect is scary, no matter how confident you may be about your decision. Your partner should find you sexy because you are, not because you’re brave or because they feel an obligation to say certain words to your face. I’m low key obsessed with previvor Paige and her boyfriend Justin. It’s so important that the support and communication continue throughout a relationship, in and out of the bedroom, and on and off screen…
April seems to have morphed its way into a healing month for me. Much growth comes from pain, no matter if that pain manifests its way in the physical or emotional form.
You’re gonna be happy, said Life, but first I’ll make you strong.
Ohhhh how I love this quote. Suffering, of any kind, connects us all. It unifies humanity in a way that always gives us some kind of common ground. Every experience has the ability to shape us into powerful people if we allow it and most importantly, if we FEEL it. If we never process a change that’s trying to take place within us, we risk not being able to shift old habits and patterns. If we allow that growth and transformation to take place, beautiful things can blossom.
Going public with my preventative double mastectomy has taught me that being open and vulnerable not only aids in the healing process, but it can also save lives. I don’t mean for that to sound all Grey’s Anatomy dramatic, but I have never known the sheer power of social media and blogging until this experience. Having such a great support group is imperative in healing, and I know that sharing my story has helped other women with a similar story cope with the emotional and physical pain. To thrive. To rise. To survive. Cancer or no cancer. I believe that when we’re open, authentic, and portray the truest version of ourselves, our confidence has an opportunity to shine brighter than ever before. It’s approachable and creates a domino effect, giving other women who walk a similar path the strength they need to finish the drill. At the end of the day, we know that whatever we went through had a purpose(s). Bloom on, wild ones.
Happy bday, foobs 🙂