So here I am, a year and 9 months post diagnosis and still writing and talking about what it means to be diagnosed with cancer...
Some of you might kindly wonder why I’m still writing and talking about these things now and not just putting it behind me and moving on...
Some of you might rudely think I’m just stuck and need to get over myself and come to think of it you’re sick of seeing my body out there as an example of living after cancer...
Whatever it is you think I learned the hard way not to give a good dang about it. No offense please.
The idea is that God gave me the ability to write, to tell my story, to use my voice and shout it out and no matter what I don’t feel the time has come for me to sit down and shut up already.
Would it be easier for my kids if I shut up and stopped sharing? Well, since they see me everyday markedly different than I was before, no I don’t think so. No matter what even if I had reconstructed my right breast I would still look different and feel different too - my kids are used to popping (and I mistyped that at first as pooping lol that’s true too) in on me all the time despite locking doors and being private they can still and have still at times found me mid clothing change or in a wardrobe mishap (it doesn’t just happen to celebrities check out my pics from my luau we hosted and you can peep my scar instead of a boob).
I’m not ashamed of my scars or my body (anymore). I love myself from head to toe and I know there are many women out there and men too who have or haven’t been hit with the cancer stick and don’t appreciate or love themselves. It’s an epidemic and it’s also something that can’t be helped I guess.
You see there are things I wish you knew about yourself that you just probably can’t know unless you get hit with the cancer stick and trust me I will never thank cancer for nothing but I did learn some stuff and as an educator since, well, birth, learning is my favorite thing to do -
So here are some things I wish you knew:
1- Your body is your friend - love yourself, appreciate your body for not failing you, for being strong and carrying you through your days and nights as you work, love and live.
2- Don’t pity me because I got sick - but DO understand how quick the line between health and sickly can be crossed and just remember to always know what you need to be well and that no matter what there isn’t a guarantee you’ll never get sick.
3- Don’t sweat the small stuff - and it's all small! Seriously, I see you all worried about what someone thinks of you or something equally small and inconsequential from my seat in my Chemo chair history and all I can say is that you are wasting your time, wasting your health on something that ultimately doesn’t matter. The only things that matter to me are A) am I helping others? and B) am I a good mom/wife/friend etc?
We all, deep down, crave a meaningful life with relationships and love but what we do is posture around like that doesn’t matter and fret about every little thing (I know I did). And yes it’s in that order because I do believe I was a great mom always though I wasn’t a good wife or friend but that’s ok I learned the hard way how important that is - helping others is really in my opinion the currency of life...
4- Know your worth and don’t squander your time, attention and health on stuff that doesn’t matter in the long run. Find something you enjoy doing no matter how small no matter how silly it seems and do it - try not to worry about bills they will always be there but do try to find something that will fulfill you.
5- Do not stress - stress is the absolute worst thing for your health your body and everything around you - I used to stress and worry about everything then I got stage 3 cancer and now when I should, you know, be worried I realize the futility of worry -
it did nothing to keep me well to get me well or anything and that brings me to my last lesson today...
6 - Don’t ever think “it can’t be me” -- it can be you - risk analysis and or thinking in terms of never are a big way to lead to disaster - I thought it would never be me but I did my screening mammograms anyway - imagine if I didn’t - I would probably be dead.
Every day is a gift live in the moment and know who has your back and always keep them close.
This is what I do in the time between.
Recently, I became a magazine model. Did I ever think I would model? NO - not even when I had an undeveloped teenager’s mind did I ever ever think I would or COULD model. When I look back now, I realize I was really beautiful but I always felt NOT beautiful. I compared myself to everyone and anyone - I recall like yesterday being about 12 (so almost my daughter’s age now) and watching Janet Jackson’s “That’s the Way Love Goes…” music video on MTV (you know, when MTV used to play music videos) and feeling just huge and hideous and wishing I could look as trim and fit and as beautiful as she did.
I realize now that she had a team of people to make her look the way she did in that video and that it is insane for girls women to compare ourselves to stars, musicians and now, IG models and reality TV stars.
Most photos you see out in the world for advertising purposes are photoshopped and airbrushed and videos are also treated after the shooting before we see them so we really should NOT compare ourselves but it is what we do.
After cancer, I find myself doing this less and being more “content” with my body, my face, my weird facial expressions and you know, ME. I also am less fearful of like anything (IDGAF) and just doing things way outside my comfort zone (exhibitionist).
When I first shared with some friends that I would be posing topless and showing body positivity to the point of being a 41 year old (so middle aged) one breasted woman, some folks were shocked and wondering why I felt this need to show my body NOW. I mean, do not get me wrong, as a young lady, I wore string bikinis and “sexy” clothes but as I got older, I became more conservative and though I would show cleavage, I would not show too much and never ever posed naked - I mean, I was a professor / teacher and an executive - we never want to be found with naked pics out there because then it becomes the front page of the New York Post…
So when my friends pushed back, I explained how it was so important to me to show that even though my body has been mutilated and I have lost a piece of what is considered “feminine” by chopping off that tit, I am still happy with my body and sexy in my own way. I would share more about sex but I am married and NO ONE wants to know about married people’s sex life - if I were single and swiping right on Tinder, everyone would be down with it but because I am married, it is icky… lol.
I am also too prudish to write about that stuff anyway - but I am naked in this month’s amazing Body Issue for Wildfire Magazine. This magazine is all about breast cancer and a portion of the proceeds are donated to cancer charities. The magazine has been in print since 2015 AD FREE and showcases the true story of breast cancer with images, stories, coloring inserts and more.
My lovely photo taken by the amazing Sophie Mayanne of Behind the Scars was picked to be put in the magazine and check it out - it is a FULL PAGE image and on the next page is a little bit about my body image and my post mastectomy experience as well as a listing of my nonprofit, too!
If you have the time and are interested in an amazingly crafted with love magazine about our experiences and life with breast cancer, sign up to get copies here - you can get digital copies or printed ones! It is a great resource to find your tribe, to learn about things in the community and to give back, all at the same time!
The magazine is AD-FREE and a portion of each new subscription is donated to MBC/Stage IV research. WILDFIRE supports METAvivor and The Cancer Couch Foundation.
Check it out today! This is what I do in the time between.... share life as a "uniboober" and smile, every damn day -- come on over and tell me what you do in the time between in the comments or via insta.
The Time Between Is, INC is a 501(c)(3) corporation - help us reach our goals of launching #balanceaftercancer
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