Thursday, March 7, 2013


So it was one year ago today I became a passenger on one of life's wildest roller coaster rides. I seriously can't believe it's already been 1 year! Never in my wildest of dreams would I have ever expected my body, mind and spirit to go through what it did in just a year's time. As I write this blog, I look back to my calendar and schedule a year ago and wonder how I managed to get through everything. My life as I knew it then was quite crazy to say the least. Doctor's appointments, doctor's appointments and more doctor's appointments, then throw in work and keeping up with my exercise regime. As I reflect upon the person I was then vs. the person I am now, not only am I a stronger person but learned to have faith. I'm not going to lie, there were times when I questioned my faith due to sheer stress, but in the end it was faith that got me through everything. Making the transition from Texas to California almost 4 years ago was a huge leap of faith in and of itself, but some where along the journey I lost confidence in my faith. I couldn't exactly tell you when or why it happened, it just did. And I'm not sure why it takes a major life event for a person to realize such things. But this is what life is all about, right? Self-reflection and rediscovering one's inner self to become a better person inside and out.

Yes, I am fully aware of my physical strength and emotional strength. If 2012 was any indicator of that, then I definitely mastered that test. But a person needs more than strength to sustain life. The truth of the reality is, I somehow lost some of my confidence. One day it's here, the next they are gone. As I move forward in 2013, I am learning to conquer confidence in all aspects of my life and learning to love myself just a little more (flaws and all). I have faith I will get to where I want to be, but I understand it's a process and everything will fall in its place in due time. I am just grateful I am alive, grateful I am in good health, grateful I only had to fight half the battle of breast cancer, grateful for my determination to become a better person, grateful for my strong support system and most of all I am grateful for being me.

Over the year, I contemplated with getting a tattoo to mark my hard fought victory. Then I came upon the picture to the right and asked myself, "Do I really need a tattoo reminding me of what I went through?" Granite, I will be getting my first set of tattoos soon for cosmetic reasons, however it will be the finishing touches to my reconstruction surgery. In my opinion, a scar definitely represents so much more than a tattoo. They have more meaning and definitely a better story. Whether it be scars from CrossFit or scars from cancer, each  one represents an accomplishment coupled with a learning experience and personal growth. Who knows, I may get spontaneous one day. But for know, I am content with my battle wounds. :)

Speaking of scars, in one of my first posts after diagnosis, I posted a link to a very powerful, raw, and moving project displaying women of beauty and strength called The Scar Project. The artist does an amazing job capturing the emotional and physical strength of each woman (I have included a couple images to the right). When I first looked at the images a year ago, a mix of emotions overcame me, mostly fear and uncertainty. Fear of pain. Fear of losing something that defines me as a woman. Fear of the unknown. Fear of my body looking and feeling different. Fear of the process. At present, there is obviously no fear. Only a lack of confidence and self love. Not sure what I had expected and hoped for before getting my implants, but I was more comfortable in my own skin after the mastectomy than I am now. The only thing I can think of is that they are not my natural breasts. They look and feel different. Although, my surgeon (and nurses) say my case is one of the best they have dealt with. I look like a breast augmentation patient rather than a breast cancer patient. I need to get over the idea of them being implants and embrace my womanhood. Embrace myself.

After much contemplation, I decided to honor the anniversary of my diagnosis by sharing my version of tattoos. I've included some photos of my scars after 2 of my surgeries. I want to preface by apologizing if some of the images offend some of my readers, but it's truth and reality...and me. My hopes are that it helps ease the nerves of those newly diagnosed and facing a mastectomy. If you have a good team of surgeons, they can do wonders with minimize scarring and pain (which I didn't feel much). I still have numbness in these areas in addition to any area where my bra hits, including my lats.

Sentinel-node Biopsy (right side): 2 weeks post surgery, now. You can also see in the 2nd image where my drains were inserted. I had them on both sides.


Sentinel-node Biopsy (left side) : post surgery, 2 weeks post surgery, now.


And this would be 4 days post surgery without any saline in the expanders (Please disregard my aweful looking greasy hair. I wasn't allowed to wash my hair...which if you really know me then you understand how much it drove me nutts!!!!). Happy the scary part was over, over joyed my surgeon cleared the margins, proud of my battle wounds, and comfortable in my own skin. Scars that will be forever tattooed on my body. This is reality, but not something I let define me. I could easily hold a grudge on "March 7th", but instead I will embrace the day, be grateful I am alive and celebrate the beauty of life. I think the most important thing to keep in mind when faced with adversity is that it is only temporary and there is a lesson to be learned. This is what I took from the experience: Find your courage, laugh, acknowledge your support system (whether it be family, friends, support groups or therapy), laugh more, allow yourself to be vulnerable, and most important keep your faith, be grateful and keep living life. It is ok to show weakness and have others take care of you. It doesn't make you less of a person or mean your weak; it just means you are human. I am grateful for each and every person in my support system that made the past year a little easier to cope with. I will never forget March 7th, 2012, but I can now close this chapter in my life and begin the next...focusing on inner growth, love and my future nuptials. :)

One year after diagnosis...with new boobs & still going strong. :)



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