A Year in Reflection

Google Image


Google Image

 

 

 

 

 

 

On August 23rd of last year, I was in the hospital undergoing the biggest decision I have ever made in my entire life…prophylactic double mastectomy/breast reconstruction. At the time it seemed like the obvious choice, in hindsight, it was the most intensive rite of passage that ever plagued womankind.

 

I’m a strong woman. I know women claim that every day and then something trivial throws them into a panic attack of mega-proportions. I, myself, have been there. Where do you think the words Drama Queen came from. But, I digress. I AM STRONG! And as a woman who has idly strolled through several neighborhoods of Hell, I tell you I was not prepared for the emotional torture I would be facing during this reconstruction. It turns out even strong women can have weak moments.

 

They say, “What doesn’t break you makes you stronger.” I hate that saying with the entirety of my being, not because it isn’t true but because it is quoted repeatedly by people who have not been through a sliver of what I have. Am I comparing my struggles to the lack of theirs? No, I’m just reflecting on those moments that transpired along the way. Like I said in the previous paragraph…“Weak. “Drama Queen.” “Hell.”

 

Feelings of inadequacy, self-loathing, comparisons, bouts of deep depression… just a few of the bullshit moments I had in the past year. After all of that work I put into myself in the last few years I was undone by my f**king breasts. That’s right, like a teenage boy, I lost my ever-loving mind over breasts. Apparently, my vanity knows no bounds.

 

When did I, the woman’s woman, turn into an exceedingly breast-obsessed man? If I had to pinpoint it, I’d say roughly between birth and the total hysterectomy 12 years ago but, I am just guessing here. Seriously, though, why the hell are we as a society so obsessed with oddly placed sacks of fat hanging off of one gender’s chest? And why did I get sucked into that absurdity? Because, that is what happens when you make a choice to save your life but still want to have some sort of normalcy… and FFS, I just want to be a woman, something I feel like PCOS, being raised as a boy, and an early hysterectomy robbed from me.

 

But, have I been robbed or have I just fallen victim willingly into the societal princess programming that all females are force-fed?! I’d like to think I am no victim let alone a willing one. But, yes I fell into the world’s biggest trap, allowing society to dictate their idea of what a woman is. Funny, I don’t remember signing up for that in my contract. Yet there it is in all its hideousness.

 

My surgeon told me this was a journey. I knew what I was in for, well, I thought I knew what I was in for. But, I was not ready for all of that. I didn’t know that my breasts were directly tied to my emotional core. An explosive core that was clearly ticking and this “journey” was the detonation. That’s what I get for holding on to 40 years of trauma. There has to be a better way to “let it go.” I’ll work on that.

 

So on Tuesday, I’ll be in my surgeon’s office getting the final touches on my breast reconstruction…purple glitter tattoos on my reconstructed nipples. Because why not? A girl should be a girl any way that she sees fit, not forced into being what society tells her she should be. And that is how you become a strong woman!

 

 

beginning-lamour

Google Image

Advertisements

Keeping Abreast of the Situation

Image courtesy of Bing image search

This image is hilariously true & my first 40 have been, by no means, an exception.

Some of you may recall the heartbreak my family and I experienced in February 2011 when my sister was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer and then died suddenly in the hospital after 3 days of admittance. It was then that I jumped face first into breast cancer advocacy.

Then October of that year I had my own breast lump scare, which thankfully turned out to be nothing. However, since then I have been going through my own personal hell trying to figure out how not to get this plague. I had yearly mammograms, I spoke with breast specialists, I tried to get family on board to help me with paperwork so that I could get the genetic testing done to find out once and for all if I am predisposed for this horrendous disease. All to no avail or peace of mind for me.

Isn’t that how life seems to go…

So after years of trying to get my emotional well-being in good working order, I took another leap trying to get my physical health under control as well. In doing this, I found a great RN who got me in touch with a great breast cancer specialist at St. Louis University Hospital.

At first, I was freaking out. Because you know it was not that long after the 4th year deathaversary of Jess, and apparently I was not as over it as I had previously thought. So while retelling the story I broke down, I was an absolute train wreck.

Yeah, so not over it…

After consultation, two exams by two different medical professionals, and a box of tissues; the doctor decides that the best course of action would be for me to see a genetic counselor and find out what my risk is and if I should be genetically tested for the breast cancer gene. Then pending the counselor’s decision I could be given a referral for a breast reduction at my 3 month follow-up.

I was incredibly nervous for weeks leading up to the appointment with the counselor. Nervous and me are like ex lovers, a true love/hate relationship, only, I am the one who suffers no matter what.

Ha, another emotional issue I thought I had conquered and left in my past…

Based on what I knew about my family history (not much really, in retrospect) which is full of cancers, the counselor assessed my risk factor for breast cancer.

The counselor assessed me as high risk at 20-40%. Most women have a risk factor of 12%. The counselor then decided that it would be better for the only cancer survivor in my family to have the gene test done and then if she was positive, I could then be tested too.

I had a lot of emotional baggage brought up by the thought of having to contact family that I had decided to stop having contact with.

It took me a few days but I knew what I had to do, and it didn’t involve reconnecting with those toxic people…

I had spent so much time freaking myself out over something that may or may not happen, that I ended up missing the fact that my risk of getting breast cancer is the exact same since my conception. Genetically nothing had changed at all.

The scariest part of life is always the unknowns and even then, what really was I scared of…

The only thing that could change all of this was to have a double mastectomy and that, without the gene test, was off the table. Or so I thought.

Since I am such a high risk, my doctor has given me two choices going forward in my breast health. I can get a breast reduction, which I have been in desperate need of getting for most of my life. In doing this I can relieve a great deal of my back pain and other issues due to having such heavy breasts. I can then get mammograms and MRI’s every 6 months, and annual doctor exams for the rest of my life. This option doesn’t take away any of the risk of getting breast cancer that I already have.

Being 4 weeks short of 40, I am thinking that option sounds like a really long time to be doing all of that. And in my opinion seems more of a cosmetic fix than a preventative measure.

Or I can get a prophylactic double mastectomy and cut my risk factor way down with no more need of mammograms or MRI’s, just an annual visit and exam by my doctor. This option can lower my risk of getting breast cancer immensely.

After sitting for 2 hours waiting for my mammogram results and then discussing it with my husband, it became a lot easier to chose which path was right for me.

Tuesday June 30th I meet with the plastic surgeon to discuss my options but I am fairly confident in the decision I have already made.

I choose…

the prophylactic double mastectomy because they’re only boobs, my life over bags of flesh and fat any day!