How Has Breast Cancer Changed You?
Cancer: Connections & Catalyst
Many articles and questions are posed: “How has breast cancer changed you?” Here is one example from the About Health website, just one from a myriad of articles published after doing a quick search on the topic.
I think it’s fair to ask that question to anyone in any phase of life.
- How has the news of the day changed you?
- How has having children changed you?
- How has visiting a foreign country changed you?
- How has being married changed you?
- How has being divorced changed you?
- How has changing your hair color changed you?
- How has losing weight changed you?
- How has becoming a vegan changed you?
Blah, blah, blah and on and on……
Individuals and Change
Individuals are affected by events in life in either very positive ways or extremely negative ways. So OK!! We’re all individuals and I get it. My feeling is that we should all be very cautious of becoming static in life whatever our experiences are, good or bad, and how they affect us.
I taught so many students over the past years and dealt with so many parents, administrators and colleagues involved in my students’ education that I can say with affirmation that one should never place expectations on how someone is going to be affected by any situation. That’s simply being judgmental and smacks of low tolerance for human-kind. But it happens. We are judgmental. We do critique. We don’t understand why others react the way they do to life’s significant changes, present company included. And we love to analyze everyone’s reaction to life’s changes.
This I do know. My cancer diagnosis definitively changed me physically and emotionally. Was it a gift? No, it just was. Has it been a journey? Yes. Isn’t all of life a journey? Has it been trans-formative? Yes, shouldn’t life be about continuous transformation? I refuse to move backwards or languish about anything in life but that’s just me. That’s what I’m made of. This is my voice and this is my experience and I don’t expect anyone else to have that same experience.
I have learned so damn much about my body, science, and medical terms in the past year that I can now engage in conversations with individuals I couldn’t engage with a year ago about such topics. People that I have connected with in the past year, both those that I have known for my entire life and those that I met through my second diagnosis and reconstruction have lifted me up, literally and figuratively, cried with me, hugged me, danced with me, educated me, visited me, sent me flowers, thought I was going batty and losing it at times, pissed me off, Tweeted me, text-ed me, e-mailed me and supported me financially!
Love My Belly Boobs
I have changed physically. I have a new set of breasts because the original model was taken from me a year ago when I had a recurrence of breast cancer. I quite frankly like the new model better. My body has changed because along with my new breasts as the result of DIEP flap surgery, I had an abdominoplasty, AKA “tummy tuck”, to make those new breasts. Do I love my “belly boobs”? Damn straight I do. I had to lie on my back propped up with pillows for a few weeks while healing. I had three surgeries in one year, a double mastectomy and two phases of DIEPflap surgery. I wore compression garments 24/7 for weeks to protect the incisions and revision surgery. My body will never feel the same as it did before cancer. I have numbness, scars and will be taking an aromotase inhibitor for ten years. That aromostase inhibitor will weaken my bones and potentially cause other side affects. But I’m forever grateful for each day that I have.
How did breast cancer change me? The most significant thing that happened is that those connections and events became a catalyst for me to now share my story and advocate for breast reconstruction. I love that part of the change. It came at a price but what have you paid for in life that didn’t come at a price?
Embracing the change!