This is not about me before I began my breast cancer treatment. I was asked how I felt and looked so I started selfies and diaries of my progress — here is the nuts and bolts of my recovery, the whole shebang.
My diagnosis: Microinvasive ductal carcinoma, nuclear grade 2, moderately differentiated, 1mm in greatest dimension, Stage 1.
My prognosis: Unilateral (total) mastectomy, bilateral reconstruction with hormone therapy.
A memoir after a TOTAL mastectomy – all the intense emotions of coping, family support, how it impacted me to regain my rugged outdoors lifestyle surviving breast cancer. This has raw selfies, walking through as I recovered through six reconstructive surgeries, including medical and music videos reflecting breast cancer’s pain. Entails three years of breast RECON, nightmares on medications, physiological monsters, marriage and medical processes and death, in Missouri-mom language. Through a retired Hallmarker’s eyes for everyday women, NOT as a doctor. This is the real nuts and bolts of my Clinical depression, recovery/treatment, spiritual healing, my humor and doggies, selfies and diaries of my progress.
Words have always been the way I made sense of my life. An abnormal mammogram, mastectomy and reconstruction from October 2013 till now led to sharing my hell with words as the only way to make sense of my breast cancer. Herein exposes my marriage, religion, family discord, nightmares, death, sex, love, and some not-so-politically-correct opinions. There IS the 1st Amendment at work here as well, all those opinions borne out of deep convictions, reference not to an elephant or donkey, but at times a bit sarcastic as an ass or two.
My circle of people heard me cry, my frustration and coaxed my anger through my worst days. I didn’t need to be perfect or strong with them. Their comforting words is how I came to this subtitle, ‘the nightmare of breast cancer’. From their thoughts, their compassion for me.
I live in Missouri with sultry summers so say we’re havin’ a cappuccino or sitting in my swing with a cold beer on a hot summer night swatting at mosquitoes … Sometimes I get my words turned ass-backerds, but I try not to over analyze, just tryin’ on keepin’ it real. “Raw” as one friend said. This is about surviving — the physical pain, the intensity of emotions and family devotion.
I escape in huntin’ and gardening, love the feel of a wood gun stock and dirt between my toes. True gardeners garden barefoot… me. I yearn for the breeze on my face and my grandkids laughter. For fun, we kinda sorta go 4wheeling with the Jeep in the Ozark mountains during huntin’ seasons — my favorite get-away. I fish every chance, landscape my yard, romp with my two dogs, and recycle junk into concrete crafts. An American patriot, the smell of gunpowder (and rain) is like perfume to me, with rock music in my head. To unwind, I piddle with my tropical fish tank, head to the Ozarks either turkey hunting or fishing… Jesus, my dogs, and husband are always my comfort.
My mission: Provide other breast cancer patients with real info and hope they too can kick boob cancer’s ass.
Dr. Jew explained the pathology report that my cancer was STAGE 1. Understanding my cancer was not ‘Stage 2’ but ‘Stage 1’ was no less scary, yet that downgrade made all the difference. I did not require chemotherapy or radiation treatments – a blessing…
Its evil tentacles transformed my inner defenses into nightmares of murderous rage, fearfully violent with ISIS terrorism and deadly monsters. Fear exploded in my nightmares; one seemed prophetic which really freaked me out considering the political shit going on for real in 2016, then real life events occurred within mere months of the nightmare that made my skin crawl. I’ve always had a ‘gift’ of foreseeing an issue not as a psychic, but of a lucid, extrasensory nature. (My husband calls it my “tinglies”.) At times, it’s a curse…
I emphasize: this is a woman’s memoir of mature content, for women’s awareness and general info. To a teenager, the images may seem too gross. An adult may intervene to answer questions and relate the facts of my uploads, while much of the text is too mature for a pre-teen’s comprehension. Realistic images for your ‘ref’, links and PDF’s are for accuracy. Serendipitous hope blossomed in my heart as my body started to heal in Sunday diary and ‘Engulfed’. I hold tightly to my belief God heard the tiny prayers I whispered every day to restore my womanhood, sanity, my strength and my motherhood. That’s how it works to get through it, to survive, and to regain my passion for life. I prayed for my compassion for others in the same boat. I put my whole self in God’s hands, boobs ‘n all. I had to rebuild my body. Not my booty but my boobs and my spirit.
Grandkids say the dangdest stuff ‘n my dog is my cuddle-bug ‘n the goofy man I’m married to all make me laugh. Nobody talks so stiff-necked as we write in the first draft. I broke all the paragraphs down after I broke down. Determined to enable other cancer patients to get the truest sense of the emotional upheaval, my redemption and to reclaim my life after my mastectomy. The truth is, after three years, I’m still resuming my womanhood — because that’s so much more than my breast being removed. I hope you’ll pardon the rawness, my selfies and my candor to share this experience to you. Well, after breast reconstruction I HAD to get my sense of huumor back!
Aside from the not-so-cheery stuff, my goal is to hopefully guide women through their own search ‘for the cure’ and give them hope for remission! I’m not a professional in the field except somewhat at life at 61. I don’t justify vulgarity for the sake of including naked breast images. This content demanded true to life photos relative to breast cancer; hence, I uploaded my own selfies. Real patients need real photos, real help, so I set aside my self-consciousness for the sake of revealing my own tru-life selfies, along with my nipple tattoos.
This is about surviving — the rigors, the physical pain, the intensity of emotions, the doctors, and and how it all affected my circle of people. I’d rather yak about outdoorsy stuff but this is the survival of the fittest. There are many uncensored selfies (© woman in recon) concise with this context. The MPAA Movie Ratings would surely rate them R, but I promise they’re rated more F for “family” or M for “medical”.
If you just had a mastectomy and are scared, looking for answers, you will find at least a few answers here. There is no little niche for escape. Being vulnerable is gut wrenching and scary. Here, I share my experiences throughout my reconstruction and my utter despair — it’s how other breast cancer patients feel too.
Nobody knows my pain except another cancer patient — this is a heads-up for those fortunate not to deal with a mastectomy and reconstruction and women who’ve recently begun treatment. The Lord blessed me with a great recovery — many women do not recover. Most of us are average Josephines: neighbors, the boss-lady, your daughter, and myself, and we accept that we don’t get special treatment for a miracle cure. But (and a BIG but) every breast cancer patient is special and deserves the best possible help and guidance through it, as a unique woman.
Like Joyce Carol Oates says, “beginning a memoir is like having a dump truck pull up beside you and tip a couple tons of garbage on your head.”
What’s in my head isn’t garbage but sometimes it felt like it … All women with breast cancer feel screwwwed up.