In the immediate days after my mastectomy I didn’t truly accept what had happened to me. I treated the recovery as if I had the tonsillectomy that I had years ago. I welcomed the visitors, delicious bowls of pho, coffee and breakfast tacos. I embraced the snuggles on my bed watching the entire mini-series of Big Little Lies in one sitting, because let’s face it, as a mom of little kids I never get to sit down for long. I was thrilled with cozying up on the couch watching cheesy Christmas movies while slipping in and out of sleep.
Every once in a while, I would get the pang of pain searing through my side and my brain was forced to deal with acceptance. But I could push it away with a simple readjustment. Then taking my first shower I had to decide if I wanted to see myself in the mirror. I chose not to. I just wasn’t ready. My rock..my wonderful husband stood right there, seeing all of me, broken and torn apart and loved every inch, kissing my forehead and gently helping me bathe my sewn-up body.
Days would pass and I would start to sneak little peaks of my chest, taking it in a bit at a time. Similar with how I initially dealt with my hair loss.
By the second shower, I decided to take a glimpse at myself in the mirror. It was quick. I couldn’t look for long… there were no words for what I saw. What I saw was one of the most unnatural things to happen to a human body. A part of me that God gave me, was now taken away.
I knew the sooner that I accepted what had happened to me the stronger I would be in my recovery. I have read enough articles, books, quotes, heard enough wisdom that the more you can keep a positive attitude toward the beginning of each phase the “easier” it will be moving forward. And I quickly learned that acceptance does not mean I am content, it does not mean I am settling, it does not mean I am forcing away emotion or that I am not dealing with the very real pain that surfaces. It simply means: “The storm has passed; my personal landscape has changed. But I am beginning to accept the new terrain, the new reality. I am beginning to heal.” – Healing J. Pincott
I know this is just the beginning of my new life. I know I have much more to give and offer people all around me. My daughters for example, they just give me new life every day and keep me from feeling sad. I know that in our broken world darkness thrives on sadness, instability and insecurity. I have been working hard to keep my mind from slipping to that place, especially now with my new physique. I know it is only temporary…this is not the final stage for how I will look. But I chose this road. I wanted to be given an opportunity to use my story, my physical being to create awareness, to help people really see what cancer does, to help people who have battled cancer feel like they have a voice, that they can feel empowered, strong, useful and valued.
Writing is therapy for me, as I type this it helps me to accept what my body has been through. This step helps me move forward in my recovery which not only helps me strengthen physically, but emotionally as well. I incredibly thankful for being alive, and for this week of gratitude as I am surrounded by family.