Dressing your best or dressing your chest..
In April, 2018, I was diagnosed with breast cancer.
It was a bit of a shock!
This post is about the aftermath of mastectomy and lingerie and feelings …
I have always had the classic hourglass shape and growing up through the 1970s and 1980s, this was never an ideal shape with the preference being for tall, very slim blondes.
This, along with the very early male attention I received at 11 or 12, has meant I’ve never been a fan of my breasts.
In fact, there have been times I have had an utter dislike for my breasts as it was so hard to dress with them being 10 – 12 inches bigger than my waist!
Well, that’s all changed hasn’t it?
The tumour in my left breast was removed, I was told I had the easiest to treat breast cancer and it was assumed I would participate in radiotherapy.
I had done my research and knew that this was not a path for me and wanted any trace of cancer removed.
I approached another cancer surgeon and have worked with him and a plastic surgeon to have the mastectomy of the left breast and the right breast reduced to match the smaller implant on the left.
It’s been a big process.
And it’s not over!!
The day of the mastectomy in early June last year was pretty harrowing with the surgery booked for 7.30 in the morning.
The two big surgeons stood over me and discussed their plan for my chest with each other while drawing all over it.
I found this so confronting!
So many emotions: embarrassment; as I felt so exposed, anger, shame and guilt; like my negative attitude towards my breasts had led to this – causing so much trouble for everyone and getting attention how I didn’t want it and just general fear!!
Being the rock!
I’ve always been the rock for so many around me: family members, my children, my own parents, partners, friends, colleagues, students – my work was all about giving to others as I worked in disadvantaged communities, and as I worked my way further up the food chain in my career I was the go-to person to fix so many problems.
And I was damned good at it!!
But I was not allowed to be needy – it didn’t fit in with the narrative others had of me!!
I was supposed to be there for others and be completely self sufficient.
Well, that was my lesson to learn – and for those around me also, that I’m just like everyone else and not some superwoman who isn’t permitted to get angry, upset and EMOTIONAL, like everyone else does!!
Getting By …
They had to remove quite a few lymph nodes and I, thankfully, have not experienced excessive swelling of the arm although I’ve had plenty of pain and continue to manage this.
Wherever possible I take charge of my health and symptoms and have continued to exercise daily throughout the entire process, eat well, plan joyful experiences and get more out of life as well as to maintain a positive attitude – and none of this is easy.
I get that everyone has their struggles and that in the big picture of cancer my experience is pretty minor, but it’s happening to me and I’m owning it and I’m not happy about it – although I’ve grown and been forced to heal so much that has happened to me in my life beginning with the relationship with a mother I loved dearly who regularly told me that as her seventh child she could gladly have done without me and didn’t like my studious, serious and dogged nature … to so many of the experiences in between.
I’m not finished with the healing thing and I doubt I ever will be but I’ve made a damned good start and I have my dear, dear friend, Tina and her business, AKASHIC HEALING, to thank for so much and thank you for giving me permission to feel and acknowledge my truth!
Putting things in perspective!
I would never have put such revealing photos of myself out there before, but you know what? From out of all of this pain and fear it’s a different story to tell now, and it’s one that I want to be heard! And the photos are not photoshopped and the lumps and bumps are real and I own them!!
My children and their partners have been a wonderful support: my son came up to Wollongong from his work in Canberra at a very busy time to support me leading up to my several surgeries, my daughter and her lovely wife have listened to my rants, set me up with Instagram and this blog – which has been an absolute lifeline to engaging with some of the best people in the world!
My partner has done what he can, just being there, taking me to various appointments and making sure our two fur babies are happy and taken care of when all I could think of was myself.
Me, Myself and I …
It’s down to me now.
For the first time in my life I am putting myself and my needs out there.
Self-care is what I’m immersing myself in – not having your hair and nails down for a professional persona, but doing what I love as I love to do it!
This underwear set from @pleasurestate is so gorgeous and helped me get my sexy back as we move optimistically into the new year. I purchased this underwear, it was not gifted to me so all opinions are my own – I love the lace around the bottom of the bra and the softness of the fabric – it does not cut into my scars at all and is comfortable after a full day of wearing.
Living My Best Life!!
Out of this cancer the sunshine and love has returned: I have let go of the upset, not only of this whole process, but of that which has gone before, forgiving the ugly people who have worked so hard to take away the sunshine in my life.
My days are now brighter than ever!!
For that I am truly grateful!! Truly grateful!!
Because now I can breathe and I think it might just be for the first time in my life!!
Thank you so much for joining me in my little corner of the web today, it’s rare for me to share such heavy material but it was time to do just that!
As my mother used to say, “there’s a time to talk and there’s a time to shut up!!” Well, this was my time to speak and I feel better that I have!!
I have listened to Mum and Oprah – channeled through Tina and I am now speaking my truth!
I would love to hear from you in the comments below or like or follow me …you can also find me in Instagram @donnadoesdresses