To my children:
It's been about two and a half years since my breast cancer diagnosis. It’s crazy to think how young you were when I was diagnosed- only one and a half years old and three and a half years old. Babies. You both were just babies. A lot has changed in two and a half years. I have changed a lot in two and a half years. You both will never remember me, your mom, prior to my breast cancer diagnosis. So carefree, very naive and living in a bubble where nothing bad could happen. And then on that fateful day, that changed my life, all of our lives, forever. You will never remember what it’s like to have a mom without a label as a cancer survivor. You will never remember what it’s like to have a mom that isn’t worried about a cancer recurrence. You will never know what it is like to not have a mother who has a mutilated body.
When I got diagnosed with breast cancer, I immediately asked the doctor when he could cut my breasts off. There was no doubt in my mind that I would have a double mastectomy. I wanted to do everything in my power to keep this horrible disease from ever showing its disgusting face again. After 6 rounds of chemo and a month for my body to heal, I had that double mastectomy on August 24, 2015.
The two weeks following the surgery my chest was wrapped with bandages and had three drains coming out from different spots. It took a few days before I could look down at myself, at my new reality. Your dad was so brave, and would drain my drains for the first few days following my surgery. It took me a really long time before I could look down at myself. It still catches me by surprise in the mirror.
My son, you were the youngest, yet you seem to mourn my breasts the most. While I put on a brave face for you, I still mourn them too. I miss a piece of my body that I will never get back. I miss how they looked in a dress and a shirt. Little Dude, you often ask how my breasts were cut off. Still, 13 months later you often bring it up. You want to know if it was a wrench, a saw, a screw driver or a drill? I know the truth, and I’m sure one day you will too, but for know, I quietly tell you that it was a special tool. That answer for the time being seems to be enough to put the topic to rest until you bring it up again.
I tried for a long time to cover my scars from both of you. I would close my door when I changed or if you were in my room I would turn my back towards you. I didn’t want you to see my hideous chest. Trust me, I didn’t want to see it either. The scars are long, and ugly. They don’t match either. One side of my chest is concave. I soon came to realize that you should see my scars. That I shouldn’t be ashamed of them and that you needed to see them. I stopped hiding from you when I changed and acted as I always have. Why? For a few reasons.
Our society is obsessed with the perfect looking woman who is tall, thin, small waisted and big busted. These women are Photoshopped and airbrushed on covers of magazines. Their thighs are made narrower, their faces more defined and their breasts bigger. Breasts or lack of them do not define a person. I hope you will both learn from my scars and see past people’s differences. I hope you are able to see the beauty that lies beneath the surface of a person by seeing their heart, and their soul. That’s the most important part of a person not how big, small or non-existence their chest is. It is important for both of you that there is no such thing as a ”perfect” woman. Everyone is special but no one is perfect at least not how society dictates this. Overall, I wish for both of you to see beyond the surface and embrace and love those who are good and kind not societies unrealistic expectations of beauty.
Femininity is also equated with breasts. I am no more or less feminine without my breasts. I still love to look and feel my best. I just have to do it differently now. The clothes I wear must be picked carefully to hide my scars and my prosthesis. Both of you know I wear prosthetics sometimes and often ask “if my boobs are growing back.” I’m always honest and say that they aren’t but that I’m now able to have boobs when I want them.
My scars also tell a story. A story that I never thought would be mine, especially at such a young age. But here I am to tell about it. My scars show what I have lived through and how resilient I was. I love this quote below:
Above all, I’m your mom. This is how I am and you don’t know any different at this point in your lives. I cuddle you, comfort you, cheer you on, and love you now like I did before. I hope that as you grow and become mature people, you are both able to see people for who they are, and appreciate the things that have made them who they are. I hope that as much as my mastectomy scars are my story that they are able to help make you better and stronger people.
Love you to the moon and back,