Counting days

Eighteen days ago, at age 42 and 7 days, I underwent a bilateral mastectomy and survived the first surgery of my life.

Fifty-seven days ago, I received the diagnosis of breast cancer.

Two days ago, I cried for the first time about the loss of my breasts, remembering how they felt–soft and smooth and sensitive.

Last night, I cried for the first time about the loss of the use of my arms, as I used to know it. The fascia from my pectoral muscle was removed, rendering the muscle hard, stiff, spastic, and painful. My arms that used to easily move and stretch in all directions, do yoga, and even do a cartwheel now struggles to reach to the kitchen cupboard to get a coffee mug.

I cried for the long scar across my chest and the bits of blood still attached to my skin. I cried when the fallen off Steri-strip revealed that my breasts really are gone.

On the positive, my body is healing relatively quickly and well. I’ve had more energy and less pain each day. The pain that does persist, however, is debilitating, if for only moments at a time. It wakes me and interrupts my sleep and is untouchable with pain meds.

I am ok with not having breasts. If I can’t have my own breasts, I don’t really want any at all. I feel love for my chest and compassion for what my body has been through and feel no desire to present my body in any way other than what it is.

I look and feel much thinner now and I can fit into smaller clothes on top. I fit into a size small winter coat now.

Trying to find new ways to wear my old clothes has been kind of a fun challenge. Scarves over my old t-shirts work well. I don’t feel like I have to hide my chest, but not bringing attention to it is something I find myself doing. I even found a swimsuit that works for my new body and plan to wear it on our cabin vacation next month.

I’ve been posting updates on Facebook instead of here. Not sure why, but maybe because that’s where my connections are, mostly. It’s been so nice to have the love and support of so many during one of the most difficult journeys of my life so far.

Challenges come and go, and hopefully one day I’ll look back and remember this time and be in a better place. Each day that I am healthy and alive is a gift, now more than ever.

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