Thursday, June 6, 2013

Experience, the greatest of teachers.

Honestly, I haven't read too much about Angelina Jolie and her recent decision to have a double mastectomy.  I have had enough about the whole breast cancer thing to last me for quite some time.  I have first hand experience.  

My mom came across this article and she thought it was worth the read.  I agree. 

Before being diagnosed with breast cancer, I had always said I would definitely "just" get rid of them if I had to, no question.  It's easy to say this hypothetically, but it became a whole new ball game when I was faced with this hard reality first hand.  I immediately began to mourn the potential loss of my body the way I had known it.  Before my surgery I cried a lot over what the future would hold for me and especially what it would hold for my relationship between my husband and I.  Let's face it, we all want to feel attractive, and how was I ever supposed to feel okay with myself with half my chest missing, with my formally symmetrical self gone?  

By the time my surgery came, I think I had processed so many of my feelings already that seeing myself was less of a shock.  I accidentally got a glimpse of myself in the hospital and I did not shed a tear.   It was actually better than I expected.

I am able to blend in with society because of the glorious world of prosthetics.  Most of the time I am able to participate in daily activities without giving any thought to the fact that I am missing something I had for most of my life.  I can function normally, exercise, wear tank tops, and even a bathing suit.   I do have to think about what I wear and there are still some things that now do not "work" on my new body, but things are good, it's gotten easier. My husband and I are just fine.  He's a good guy, has loved me through this and we continue to grow stronger in our relationship with each passing day.  

Don't get me wrong, I have had my moments, and I still do.  Losing part of your body sucks and for me it's been an ongoing battle with my self esteem and feeling like a complete person emotionally although my physical being is changed.  It would be nice to be physically complete in my pajamas, in the shower, or while waiting for a mammogram.  It would also be great to walk in the store and be able to buy a new shirt without wondering if the V-neck will cut too low. These are some motivating factors for reconstructive surgery.

Sometimes I feel silly for even feeling bad for myself about it.  I mean, really, I didn't lose a limb.  

At the same time, I feel guilty that I didn't have more empathy for those who faced this reality before me when I thought that I would "just" get rid of them.  So, to all of you that came before me, I apologize for not getting it, now, I do.

A mind that is stretched by a new experience can never go back to its old dimensions.

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