Monday, March 26, 2012

Happy thoughts!

It’s been about a week and a half since I got my boobs removed and all I can think of is how lucky I am.  Lucky to be able to say Fu*k off to cancer the way my mother never could.  Lucky my recovery seems to be going smoothly and everyday is a step forward to getting back to normal.  But most of all, EXTREMELY lucky to be surrounded by love and support from my family and friends.  Today I got out of the house for a bit with two of my best girl friends to get pedicures (drains attached and all).  They presented me with a book filled with fun photos, letters and quotes from many of those who have stood by my side.  I’ve been tearfully reading through this book for the last hour and am overwhelmed with happy thoughts.  It’s encouraged me to look at the bigger picture and I’m really proud because I feel like I’ve done things the right way. 

1    I was able to research different doctors and procedures.  I was lucky enough to be able to choose a timeline that worked best for me.  Not many people who get mastectomy’s can do it on their own terms.
2     I’ve joined an amazing organization called the Innovators Network (a group within The Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center) that not only has given me a handful of good friends, but also enables me to feel really great about what I’m doing on a daily basis to raise money and awareness for cancer research. 
3    Had a boudoir photo shoot.  Ladies…. Everyone should do this!  Let’s capture these young sexy bodies while we can!  One year from now, I’m going to do another. The woman I used is a local photographer named Sarah Tro. She made me feel so comfortable and we had a lot of fun!
4    Rob (my husband) and I took a trip to St. John three weeks pre surgery.   This allowed me to connect with this wonderful man in my life in a way I’m not sure we had connected before.  If it was possible, I fell in love with him even more. This was easily the best trip we’ve had together… yet, we still have our honeymoon to look forward to.   I also want to note that I got to appreciate the way I looked (pre-surgery) in a bikini.  As women, more often than most we bitch and complain about the way we look with and without clothes on.  Anyone who knows me well knows I’m definitely guilty of this.  However, I can honestly say that on this trip, I appreciated the body God gave me. 
5    I asked for support from friends and family… and boy have they come through.  This was the most important one!  The last 3 years I’ve known of my diagnosis, for the most part I’ve kept to myself.  To go public not only helped create awareness, but also gave me the confirmation that the decision I was making was the right one.  My family and friends have given me the strength to actually go through with this surgery. 
6    I had a fun farewell party to the tata’s.  This included a specialty drink called TaTa Tini, a very inappropriate cake and a fundraiser.  Believe it or not, this idea actually came from my mother-in-law who I’ve come to love and think of as family.  She sent me an article a few months back written by a woman who was also BRCA1 positive and had made the same decision, to say goodbye to the boobs.  At the time I was having a rather rough go of all this emotionally.  Reading the article felt like I was reading inside my own head. Her husband threw her a farewell to the boobs party and I thought, what a great idea.  The best thing Rob and I did was hand the planning part over to a few of my close girl friends; because they took it to a new level.  The night of my Tata party will continue to be a night I look back on for years.  It was an event where close friends from all different stages of my life came together and gave me the strength and courage to take my health into my own hands.  It allowed me to follow through with the decision to remove a part of my body that I love.  It helped me to realize that the benefit far outweighed the risk of keeping my breasts.
7    Finally, I have raised $7300 for ovarian cancer research.  Wow! Thank you to all those who contributed.

The last 11 days have definitely been a roller coaster but I can honestly say that so far, it has been easier then I expected.  The pain has been and continues to be bad at times but always bearable.  I have never once said to myself,  “I wish I would not have done this”.  There have definitely been emotional and frustrating moments but I can still see the light at the end of the tunnel and know it will get better. Pre-surgery I allowed myself to grieve, flaunt, capture, and had a proper goodbye. 

One of the letters in the book that was given to me today is from my friend who went through a double mastectomy about a year ago.  She gave me some incredible perspective.  She actually acknowledged that a few weeks ago was her new boobies first birthday “Happy Birthday New Boobs” she said.  I’m looking forward to next year when I think of this foreign object on my chest as part of me.  Right now, an ‘object’ is exactly what it feels like. 

My breasts and this whole process has been “A mountain like no other, a climb like no other”.  And hopefully will be… “a view like no other”.   – Kristen M.  I have always thought that scars are beautiful and tell a story of strength. 

Thank you to everyone who has touched me in so many ways over the last few months.  There are still so many people who have reached out that I have not gotten the chance to properly thank *yet*. This journey is not over yet, but because of my friends and family, I know I’ll have the strength emotionally and physically to continue the climb and cross the finish line.  Here’s to good health and a long happy life surrounded by loved ones. 

Tata cookie.  Logo designed by great friend Andrew Wicklund.

Fantastic tata cake!  



1 comment:

  1. What a beautiful post, Justine! You are such a beautiful woman on the inside and out, and yes you are so lucky to have such a great support network. Good luck on the rest of your journey...if anyone can do this it's you. Thank you for sharing and raising awareness!