However, I’ve never met two women who had the same surgical experiences with bilateral mastectomy.
The surgeries and treatments may be different. But there is a certain thread of similarity among most breast cancer survivors.
It has nothing to do with healing the chest and the soul.
It does, however, have a lot to do with the transformation of a breast cancer survivor’s spirit.
That tongue she has kept under wraps for too many years suddenly breaks free. She won’t be taking one more word of criticism or judgment. Not one word of it.
That tolerance she once had for being treated badly?
When a woman goes through the pain management problems of the initial surgery and then struggles to function with horrific skin expanders in the places her breasts once called home, she learns raw strength.
When she experiences weeks and months of not being able to walk very fast or bend very much or sleep very long, she learns how to pull every ounce of her being back into place in order to get through another day.
When a woman must also cope with the nasty moments of permanent nerve damage and neuropathy, she taps into a courage she never knew she had.
The end result? That woman will never again be the woman she was before breast cancer.
Instead, she will have a rock-hard determination to live exactly as she wants to live. She will be slightly obsessed with doing every single something she loves. She will laugh hysterically. She will hug you much longer than she ever did before. And she will often embrace you with tears streaming down her face.
No one is allowed to tell her anymore what to do with the sweet pink life she now knows to be fragile and delicate and cherished.
She has survived hell.
She deserves respect.
And if she doesn’t get what she deserves, a breast cancer survivor will often excuse hateful, hurtful people from her circle. She has no time for negativity.
Breast cancer survivors may also do a few quirky things other people find shocking.
I have been in the company of more than a few women who yanked off their wigs in public, so their bald-from-chemo heads could cool off. By the way, I loved those moments.
A few days ago, I did something that some people might find shocking.
But do I care?
Umm … absolutely not.
I am one of many women with bilateral mastectomy who cannot bear to wear a bra for very long. It starts to hurt so much that I break out in a sweat. I absolutely must remove the awful thing … and most of the time my approach to the removal might look to other people as if this under garment is on fire.
So anyway, I was in traffic when that too-familiar aching and stinging started around my incisions. I slowed down even slower than the snail pace congestion and wiggled out of the bra, right there in the driver’s seat, while the brat guy behind me stomped on his horn.
A few seconds later, he ended up beside me, honked to get my attention and flipped me off when I turned to face him. So I just rolled down my window, laughed at him and dangled my bra like a flag.
His expression was priceless. Of course he had no idea what that flying bra was about. But I did. And that is the only thing that counts.
You can’t ruin my day. I am way too happy to still have my life.
Do not mess with a pink warrior.