The Elephant in the room … or in the dress ..

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

Donna 🧚🏻‍♀️❤️🙏

47 comments

  1. You two gooses make me chuckle. Donna I love the joy I see in your face here. I have always admired you but never knew you well and had no idea of the story behind ( as most of us truly know little of the real person). You have had a lot to battle with right from the start. I’m glad your mother did have her seventh or we would have missed a wonderful person. I’m in awe of you having these photos done . It shows your strength. It’s funny how illness can bring out new things in people and in a strange way it has helped you find yourself ( with Tina teasing you along) your gorgeous spirit is your strength. Thanks for sharing your story and helping us get to know you more. Xxx

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you, Diana, for your kind and generous comment – I really appreciate it!! I have always admired you too, Diana, and yes you’re right this hiccup in my health has revealed a side of me I didn’t know I had!! Keep in touch! 🧚‍♀️❤️🙏🏼 Donna

      Like

  2. Amazing , courageous story. You write amazing
    . Your feelings and your truth. I love your honesty of your journey and your willingness to get help to support you through.
    Tina your a legen don’t know if I spelt it right but you know what it mean.
    We all need someone to guided us through our journey.blessings to both of you xx

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for your kind comment, it means so much to me!! You are right – Tina is a legend and we are both very grateful!! Thank you for your blessings, they are much appreciated- enjoy the rest of your weekend!! Donna 🧚🏻‍♀️❤️🙏

      Like

  3. You are radiant and stunning, Donna. You are such a strong individual and an inspiration. I have some health issues that I was born with due to a genetic issue. So, although I cannot know the complete issues dealing with breast cancer, I do understand what it means to have to be strong, no matter what. I know about hospitals, doctor appointments, Emergency Care, immense pain, and fear. And, I know what it is like to have the greatest fear of all, leaving my children at too young of an age.
    Thank to The Lord, He has kept me!

    You have written a beautiful post with lovely pictures, included. You are surely a survivor, with a heart of gold! This is an immensely inspirational post as you are an immensely inspiring woman!

    Now, on a side note… I adore your hair color, and have some red in my hair, as well, especially noticeable beneath the light. However, the red in your hair is gorgeous! Is your hair naturally wavy/curly? Mine is so! It takes forever to wash, condition, comb out, and detangle. But, still, I am happy with it. If this wouldn’t sound incredibly strange, could you please tell me your hair routine? LOL… I just love your hair! I have been using a product line for curly hair just recently, called: Cantu. It is for African-American hair, but it has been a greatly beneficial for me. If you’d rather email me personally, please feel free. But, I want to know all your health/beauty secrets bcuz they are surely working!

    Big Hugs & Lotsa Love
    ♥️ ♥️ ♥️

    Liked by 1 person

    • Wow!! You have totally blown me away with your sweet kind words!! I’m sorry you’ve had health struggles, it’s so awful when people like us feel we don’t have control. Although for me that has been part of the lesson to learn coming out of this phase of my life. I love your hair type / it reminds of Julia Louise Dreyfus – and I would so love to have naturally curly hair!! Actually there is a beauty and fashion blogger who may have hair similar to yours – girl with curves – and she posts different hair care routines. Sadly my hair is very fine and after three fairly big surgeries this year, although thankfully no chemo or radiation, I had a lot break and fall out… enter my hair extensions! That’s why in some of my pics my hair is long and in others I wear it shorter. It’s no secret and I’ve talked about it on the Instagram. I use a warm castor oil and coconut oil mask that I make myself and that has improved it out of sight, stopped the breakage and the fallout has reduced – thankfully! So it’s a slow journey to recovery- I know getting extensions seems a bit out there but I needed the boost! The other thing is I colour my hair myself, using a rinse – so 10 vol – every 3-4 weeks and then 20 vol, so dye, every 6-7 weeks so that the hair isn’t over processed … plus I’m on a lot of vitamins b group, c and biotins.., hope that helps – so much of fashion and beauty is like everything else my friend, smoke and mirrors!! Enjoy the rest of your week and thank you for taking the time to talk, you’re a little gem!! Donna 🧚‍♀️❤️🌺

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Donna, you mentioned that you use Castor Oil in your hair.

    How are the results? How do you apply it (it is a bit thick)? Is it difficult to wash out of the hair? I just bought a brand called “Now Solutions Castor Oil” because you mentioned it is healthy for the hair. Smiles!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi dear Nika, yes I do use castor oil. It is very thick! I mix 1 dessertspoon if it with the same amount coconut oil and warm it in a cup sitting in the sink in hot water. Using a microwave may damage the nutrients. I dip my finger tips in the oils and gently rub them into the scalp – mainly the sides and across the top as this is where my hair is weakest. You might want to put a towel around your shoulders so it doesn’t get everywhere. The oil nourishes the scalp. Leave on for four hours with some plastic cling wrap around your head. I also put it on the ends is my hair so once again pretty painstaking. This time I put some in my palm and then transfer it across but I’ve heard people put the whole mixture in a squirt bottle!!
      Nika, if it didn’t work I wouldn’t bother to go through telling you this but it’s effects are great. Increased growth and less breakage. When it comes time to wash out I put a good conditioner over the head and hair for 15-20 minutes before I hop in the shower to help break down the oil and then rinse it and wash it twice with shampoo and use just a touch of conditioner and rinse again. We have hard water here on the farm so the hair can be a bit gluggy after the first wash but then a few days later wash again and the hair is beautiful and soft. When we are in Wollongong the water is different and the hair looks great straight away. Because you have beautiful thick and curly hair even a small amount of oil warmed in the palm of your hand and smoothed down your ends will settle it. The other thing is a small amount on the fingertips rubbed into the scalp and give your head a good massage for ten minutes every night before bed- these things have improved my hair out of sight. There’s a YouTube Melissa101 and she did this too you might want to have a look… take it easy and good luck! Donna 🧚‍♀️❤️🙏🏼

      Liked by 1 person

      • Thank you, Donna! I am going to copy this, and save it in my email so that I can do it the same way as what you have described here.

        My hair does need smoothing, and to help tame frizz, and dryness. Plus, it can be so difficult to comb out tangles after I wash it. Sometimes I just want to throw the comb across the room. (Lol). And, I think I have done so a few times. Ha haha.

        This will help my hair, too. You are so kind to take all the time to let me know the directions, and I am immensely grateful, Donna!

        Thank you, dearly ♥️ 💜 ❤️

        Big Hugs!

        Liked by 1 person

      • Donna, I did the Castor Oil thing to my hair, today, and right now I have the hair conditioner in my hair to break up the oil a bit, and next I will wash it out. 😊 I thought of you all day while my hair was all gooey… lol. Seriously, I thought of you with warm thoughts! ♥️

        Liked by 1 person

      • Thank you, lovely, I have thought and talked of you often too!! Sometimes the hair looks a lot better after another few days and you shampoo but hopefully you will feel like a new woman!! I have been putting plenty on the blog and have changed the look of it so that’s been a bit of fun as I’m not at all tech savvy! Have a great night!! Donna 🧚🏻‍♀️❤️🙏

        Liked by 1 person

      • I understand because I miss many notifications, too, as they don’t all come through. I don’t know why they don’t all come thru, but it’s always been that way.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Oh, cool! If you need the “rules”, just let me know. I don’t follow such things very well. Lol.

        I understand if you cannot answer this comment until another time. I just washed my hair, and I have it wrapped to dry.

        My favorite hair products are Giovanni. I just wanted to tell you that. 😊

        Liked by 1 person

      • Hi Donna,

        Oh, I left the Rules on the other post about Changing my Mind. Loved your comment, btw!

        Yes! My hair is radically softer, and the tangles just slid right out. Usually those tangles are a drag to deal with, but it was wonderful having them comb right on through!

        How often would you normally do this Castor Oil Treatment? I am so grateful you gave me your routine. It’s awesome!

        Liked by 1 person

      • Oh God I’m so glad you’re happy with the result as I’ve been worried you’d hate it!! I have baby fine hair so now I do it fortnightly, but when my hair was falling out and breaking I did it weekly. I do not wash my hair more than once or twice a week – people think this is strange but if you gradually extend the days between washes the oil glands seem to come into balance although it’s hard here when it’s so hot and you’ve done a work out so just a quick gentle wash then …. anyway hope it helps! Donna 🧚🏻‍♀️❤️🙏

        Liked by 1 person

      • You and I should put up a beauty blog with your clothing, and I can give DIY Skin Care… or, I’ll just keep coming back on here, and asking you questions about your hair, ETC… lol. Sorry for all the comments… lol.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Sweet one, I applaud you for your bravery, your honesty and for sharing with us. I have half-way cursed my breasts for their size much of my life. They brought me a bit of unwanted attention when I was too young to handle it. But I have always been clear that I didn’t want to wish them away because I was afraid somehow that would seem I was like I was wishing cancer on myself. Does that make sense?

    Anyway, bravo to you. You look marvelous and very healthy and happy. Praying this chapter of your life is soon behind you.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It very much does make sense, it’s just that there are a lot of women in my family back generations and none have had breast cancer so it never occurred to me that I would get it … having said that, although I may have wished them away I’m not entirely sure I wished breast cancer on myself! There’s more to this story and will continue to post about it because the inner machinations of my spirit and the influences I’ve experienced over a lifetime have led my to this place and I’m actually very glad to be here because I have learned so much I needed to learn but had always avoided. I am not at all brave – it’s just one of those things you do because you have to but I tell you what looking behind the scenes has taken some real guts and I’m grateful I was up for it!!
      Enjoy your weekend and thank you so much for your comment, I’m very grateful to meet you and hear your thoughts!! Donna 🧚‍♀️❤️🙏🏼

      Like

  6. What an honest and uplifting post – well done you look fabulous too! Thanks for sharing this piece I know it will helps many ladies who are in the same position. Do stop by and join the #chicandstylish #linkup every Thursday. Jacqui Mummabstylish

    Liked by 1 person

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