When I was diagnosed with breast cancer and learned that I would need to undergo chemotherapy and radiation after my mastectomy, there was a moment when I realized I would eventually be bald. At that point in my life, my hair wasn’t in particularly great shape. I had stopped coloring it, and wasn’t getting regular haircuts, partly because I couldn’t afford them.
I need to preface this post by saying that outside of the old “Wonder Woman” television series from the 70s, I am not a big fan of Marvel Comics and female superhero characters. I’m just not; it’s never been my thing.
It’s no secret that many women have fraught relationships with their bodies (I’m no exception), and our hearing is hypersensitive to comments about them. We can manage to go spontaneously deaf when we are critiqued for our work performance, our parenting skills, and countless other tasks, but god forbid other individuals criticize our bodies; then we’ve got our Miracle Ears turned up to 11.
This essay was originally published on July 16, 2015.
A couple of months ago, I joined the Facebook group of the organization Flat & Fabulous. The members of this group have been diagnosed with breast cancer, had mastectomies (single and double), and elected to forgo reconstruction. Another fun fact about having breast cancer is that it isn’t always easy to put your breasts back if that is what you want. Many women aren’t aware of this, and it makes for some interesting debates in the breast cancer community.
This essay was originally published on August 15, 2014.
*I originally published this essay on May 15, 2013 on another blog I write. Little did I know that one year later, I would be in the same position.
Over the past few days, the Internet has been abuzz with Angelina Jolie’s revelation that she had a preventative double mastectomy because she was at an 87 percent risk of developing breast cancer. Additionally, Ms. Jolie, according to sources, is planning on having her ovaries removed, because she is also at high-risk for developing ovarian cancer, the disease that her mother succumbed to at age 56. I commend Ms. Jolie for her proactive choices, particularly because she is a mother of six, but also because she made informed choices based on genetic testing. While we can never be sure of our fates, it is sometimes a good idea to not tempt that very fate by doing nothing.
This essay was originally published on August 14, 2014.
Starting at the beginning is not always appropriate. When I went back to school, I was taught the term in medias res, which is Latin for “in the midst of things.” Many authors are fond of starting their novels this way, and I think it’s best to start off my blog in this manner, too.
My breast cancer diagnosis came during what is deemed “middle age.” None of us knows exactly how long we are going to live, but the term generally refers to a person in his or her late 40s. It officially came one month and five days after my 47th birthday.
In the description of this blog, I described my breast cancer as a “journey.” Where that journey will end is just as baffling as trying to figure out what age I will be when I die. What is certain is that I am a writer, and as a writer I am compelled to write about it, regardless of the outcome.
I hope you will accompany me on my journey. Like I said, it will be a different one, devoid of pink ribbons and the usual metaphors that correlate breast cancer with epic battles. Some journeys can be fraught with danger; others can be nothing but clear skies and calm waters. I don’t know what kind of journey this is yet, but I know where I’ve come from.