Any woman reading this, as much as it is knock you on your butt devastating, getting the first diagnosis you have breast cancer is not a death sentence. Here’s the tough part.   

Make no mistake, breast cancer recovery is staring down death. Nonetheless, it’s sure as hell not like TV, when that stunt person jumps up unscathed, waving to the crowd. It’s the most difficult recovery, as one of my girlfriends hit the nail on the head when she commented every fiber of her being cried for me while I was enduring nearly intolerable pain recovering within the confines of my home. It was incomprehensible that my cancer, I caused her such grief, never imagined in any worst scenario that that could happen. For you who are also suffering treatment, be rest assured, when you feel like crying or screaming or punching your pillow in the midst of frustration, I have done it all too. And any woman having a mastectomy will feel the same way. How the mastectomy affects each person is unique only to each person’s own psychological makeup.

Yes, it is a major, big deal. Initially so surreal, being so scared, it was very hard, damn near impossible to wrap my head around it. Offering hope to conquer and survive, controlled my destiny governed by its destruction. Although I offer with the deepest, sincere condolences to those who face such sorrow or deep despair looking to the eventuality of death. Then it will feel like a curse, perhaps that God has forsaken you, then to accept that you aren’t a martyr but a very special woman with extraordinary strength of your spirit. Regardless of your outcome, I guarantee we all feel like it’s a curse. A mastectomy recovery is very arduous, at times excruciating, seriously putting my faith to test. But I overcame it — you can as well.

Coping with breast cancer is not high drama but life. Life given to us by God. Life sustained by Jesus. That’s my belief. That whole belief in survival is spun into the embroidery of families everywhere, our legacy. I can’t proclaim such  to rattle off Biblical quotes without at least a modicum of research. I am confident in my beliefs, not my knowledge. Suffice it to say, I do not attest my ultimate survival of breast cancer simply as luck. I’m a very impatient, persistent, hard-headed woman who always learned the hard way (go figure) accustomed to struggling. But recovering from a mastectomy demanded the most intense introspection I’ve ever done in my sixty years. I was blessed my Stage 1 Ductal Carcinoma was removed, and by having the mastectomy I will live — and I pray my disease is gone.

In my opinion, the simple truth is the surgeons were only the persons holding the tools, using their skills and education for my benefit towards the cure. In my heart, I use the word ‘blessing’ quite literally. I understand that power more than I believed I was capable of. His grace is as real as my cancer was. Therefore, more than anything I am humbled and feel the utmost grace in my soul that my tumor was small in regards to require no radiation nor chemotherapy to eradicate the cancer by means beyond more than surgery.

Regarding the doctors, I don’t feel ‘lucky’. What I feel is respect, the utmost, deepest respect. My doctors and nurses were (are) very attentive, albeit their job, they fully understood that I wanted my life back and they didn’t undermine my emotional health in that long process. I could tell they get it. I knew they knew what I was headed into and how supportive my circle needed to be. I also hold the belief it’s a real instinct for a professional to know how to quell fear and maintain such trust as they did for me through months of anxiety and one surgery after another. Because I relied on the faith I had to count on that I was in the best hands. They are the highest caliber of professionals, and hoping for encouragement was all my mind could think of.

I wasn’t always stressed out but concerns were always in my head. Even though, through it all, it was obvious as the nose on my face the doctors understood the whole effects of a mastectomy that I’ve explained here, from my own personal view, yes it is charged with emotion. My doctors explained each process and answered all my questions no matter how irrational I felt. Since I’m only a blue-collar ex-Hallmarker mom, not educated beyond Biology 101, I asked a ton of questions. My surgeons eased my fears with honest compassion.

I am as real as it gets. Breast cancer is reality at its worst. The effects have been very profound for everyone. I listened to my body. And I listened to that little voice in the back of my head. You know when it speaks. I say with dry wit, for the kindhearted professionals helping you, please don’t be pig-headed but follow their lead what matters most. Your life deserves the best plan. And hope.

My mammogram saved my life. So when cancer is caught early as mine was, you can combat it. Your loved ones will be overwhelmed too but don’t lose faith in your strength as a family, letting fear control your future. Due to all the physical changes as my recovery progressed, I began to comprehend with a let-down heart, none, if any sensation would return in my chest, the effects of a mastectomy.

The cliche’ nowadays is to call tragic events, a challenge. I don’t call breast cancer a challenge. Hunting is a challenge, algebra, and being a single mom was a challenge. No, breast cancer is not a challenge — it’s a threat. A disease. Its effect is nothing short of debilitating and it took every fiber of my being to get through it as my girlfriend and my family cried. Breast cancer will alter your course. Your whole purpose in life is affected as you regain any semblance of what you were as a person prior to. In actuality, its effects changed me for the better. I was devastated, but have been blessed to recover, with fortitude and stubbornness and God-given resolve for good spirits. Odds are in your favorit is curable.

My heart broke as I read this. Every fiber cried for you as if I was there with you. Our connection has always been spiritual and through these words I felt reconnected with you again. I know no words will express what I feel. They will just sound fake so I will leave you with your thoughts. You will know what’s in my heart– Tammy