This is a letter to Cancer today which marks 4 years since I had my mastectomy.
Wow what an impact you have had on my life in so many ways! You came into my life out of no where and I really was not prepared! Just 12 days before we officially met I married my puzzle piece, the love of life. I do appreciate our introduction waiting until after our special day~! Our “honeymoon stage” quickly turned into everything about you. At first I was so angry but in hindsight I am so thankful. Although a honeymoon stage would have been fun, there is something about fighting for your life together that makes an unbreakable and unique bond. Instead of wearing cute lingerie and traveling places looking my best, he got to see me bald, hold me while I cried myself to sleep, listen to me literally shit my brains out all night while I slept on the toilet, kiss me before I went back for surgery after surgery, briefly see me during my lunch breaks when I would somehow make it home sobbing trying not to shit all over my car all while being in excruciating pain, he sat by my side while “friends” quickly fell away, he kept very organized lists of what meds he gave me at what time, he laughed with me when I could laugh at myself, and he would watch me ugly cry until I fell asleep. I really hated you for that. Today I’m thankful for the gift of true bonding. Thankful for the opportunity to build a raw, real and true base for our marriage.
Not to offend you, but hearing the words “you have cancer” is absolutely terrifying. I literally dropped to my knees and cried. At that time I feared you only for what I had heard about you. I had no idea the relationship we would build and all of the gifts you would give to me. Don’t get me wrong, you were a real bitch at times. I was brought to a new level of lows, fear, anxiety, and stripped of everything that really kept me comfortable. I mean come on, you took all of my hair! I would never choose bald for me! Although I learned that as much as I love my hair I don’t need it! Another thing I learned was how to do my eye brows and how much better I looked when I paid attention to them! My face without eyebrows is a bizarre look! So hey thank you for the crash coarse in eye brows! I learned a lot about the “face value” of my physical looks. For the most part you made me really understand how unimportant all of those things are. I say for the most part because I still have moments when I look in the mirror and see this new person I have become and I cry because I wish I was skinnier, I hate my post menopausal body, I wish I could wear a sexy low cut dress, I hate the looks I get from complete strangers who I can tell are trying to figure out if I’m a transgender or not, or I wish Ty and I could have had just 1 baby. Outside of those moments of weakness I’m thankful. I’m thankful to be more comfortable in the skin I fought for than I ever was before all of this. When you walk through the literal hell I went through to just be here with your husband and watch your kids grow you have a whole new appreciation for the skin you’re in. I put clothes on that are size 12 when before I met you I was a size 4. I’m a pirates dream because I have a sunken chest (badum tiss) and I haul around this sexy keg in my stomach but I look in the mirror and I smile because I get to live each moment to the fullest. I still wear the clothes that are my “style” even though I’m sure I look odd sometimes because dresses are not made for concave chests. Take me as I am or not at all!
While I was walking step by painful step through the hell you took me through I never gave up the career I worked so hard for. I actually threw myself harder into work as it gave me a push to get up and put myself together every morning. It would have been so much easier to lay in bed and sleep the day away but I never did. In some ways I regret how hard I worked. I would sit for hours at an infusion with my laptop working and go to work each day following that. I would take 22 + immodium in a single day all while working through the insane stomach cramps and running to the bathroom over and over and over. I would lay the seat back in my car with the A/C blasting and cry and try to nap from the exhaustion. My radiation appointments were at 7am so I could be on time to work. I ended up finally quitting the job I was in due to an absolutely awful person who was on a mission driven by jealousy to run me into the ground when I was fighting to keep my life. On a little side tangent, she portrayed herself as a “good christian woman” on the outside but is one of the most selfish, mean hearted, manipulative, lying people I know. My interactions with her made me question my faith like it has never been questioned before. After making the decision to not work and just fight another great career opportunity came knocking and I took the opportunity. This was the time you, Cancer, thought I should be paying more attention to you. I developed intense infections in my chest wall and ended up having 3 back to back surgeries that would completely change everything. I continued to push through work which sometimes I also regret.
October of last year I was selected as a recipient of an INCREDIBLE non-profit to receive a mastectomy tattoo. At the time I applied for the opportunity I had made decided that if I was chosen it would make my decision not to attempt reconstruction for the 4th time. While going through the incredible healing that I experienced with receiving my mastectomy tattoo with P.ink Denver, I met some incredibly beautiful women who you know as well. The most amazing thing was seeing how strong and beautiful they all were after meeting you. Some only see the HELL you have brought but I have seen so many beautiful things and met some truly amazing people that you have touched.
Today marks 4 years since I had my mastectomy. 4 years. I cannot believe it. It’s a day to celebrate but it’s also very emotional to remember everything we’ve been through. I want to end this letter to you today by saying THANK YOU for all of the gifts you have given me and for making me into the woman I am today. I am proud of who I am and can only hope that my husband and children see me and feel the same.