All aboard the cancer train …

-1Well… I’m on the cancer train now.

I met with my surgeon on Thursday. He’s the guy who cuts out the cancer … he took a long look at my breast and told me I didn’t have enough breast tissue to do a lumpectomy.

My tumor is approx 4cm x 4cm (about the size of an avocado pit) and if he took the cancer and the surrounding tissue necessary it would leave me with about 1/3 of my breast cut away.

He said if he cut it and sewed it back together as/is it would be “unappetizing” and then quickly changed his wording to “unappealing”.

Both of those words he used I found infuriating. I know what he’s saying… the breast would look deformed but for some reason it made the feminist hairs on the back of my neck stand up.

He gave me a giant binder with literature from the Cancer Society and I looked through it at home and everything in it pissed me off. Every pamphlet is about “finding your womanhood again” after a mastectomy. Like if I don’t have breasts or reconstructed breasts that I will never be appealing or appetizing.

I am appealing because I’m me. Not because of my tits. Ugh. All this Pink Ribbon stuff leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

Oh yeah … so … he says I have to get a mastectomy. ๐Ÿ™

Fuck. You. Asshole. Cancer.

I have awesome breasts. Like seriously spectacular. My entire life I have struggled with body image. My thighs are always too big (no matter how small). My stomach is to pudgy (no matter how flat). My forehead is too big. My arms are too hairy. My hair is too curly. I have a wee mustache. I could go on and on.

1ed1c90e92ad11e297b922000a1fa527_7The one thing I’ve never had a complaint about? My breasts. I can look at them in the mirror and not criticize. They are perfection.ย  ๐Ÿ™‚

I have to clarify and say that I have a handle on the body image stuff now … (for the most part) but it’s something I have to constantly work on.

For me body-image stuff isn’t really about my body but more about how hard I am on myself. I suffer from “not good enough” disease but it’s not so much of an issue anymore.

I’m actively striving to be kinder to myself.

Turning 40 helped. I was like … fuck it. I am who I am and I’m healthy and happy and the rest isn’t important. Only now I’m not healthy and they want to cut off my beautiful right breast. Le sigh.

The talk I had with the surgeon on Thursday was just a Meet & Greet. I have a meeting on Monday with the plastic surgeon to talk about details. Like just cut it off and leave it. Or cut it off and do reconstruction later. Or cut it off and put in an implant right away.

Sometimes they take part of your stomach fat and turn that into a breast. Yes the literature mentions that you can get a mastectomy AND a tummy tuck all at the same time. “oooh hooray” I say sarcastically.

The doctor looked at my stomach and told me I was too thin to do that and for a split second I was happy that he thought I was too thin for this procedure. Jesus Christ! Vanity is a hilarious thing sometimes.

tumblr_lts5cgkJQm1qap6kyo1_1280Part of me wants to say “take my breast” and proudly walk around with a big fat giant scar on my right side like the beautiful woman who took part in The Scar Project. I don’t need TWO breasts to be a woman. I don’t need any breasts. I am a woman because I am me. My breasts don’t define me.

But then I think about my closet full of beautiful dresses and vanity takes over. Ugh. I’m going to see what the plastic surgeon has to say on Monday. I’m carefully weighing out all my options.

Gerry has seen a lot of re-built mastectomy breasts. He tattoos nipples on woman who have had reconstructive surgery. He says some of them look pretty good … but they don’t really look like a breast when you’re naked. More like a lump. I guess the whole idea is to make you look symmetrical in your clothing.

But then it hits me. NONE of this reconstruction stuff is really important and it feels so idiotic to even be worry about it. Why? Because they won’t know how serious the cancer is until after the mastectomy. They take my breast tissue and then I have to wait 2 weeks before the results come back to tell me if they were able to cut all the cancer out or if I have to do treatment (like chemo/radiation/etc).

But if I’m going to reconstruct then I have to decide very soon because they can now do the implant at the same time as the mastectomy and if I do go ahead with reconstruction I’d rather have it all done at once then subject myself to multiple surgery.

Ugh!!!

Yesterday I fell into a pretty dark hole. Gerry was there to help me out of it but it’s all really super overwhelming. I feel like I’m on a roller coaster without a seat-belt and I’m white knuckling it so I don’t get thrown off.

Thank you to everyone who has sent me info on iodine and Gerson Therapy and Turkey Tail Capsules and all the other treatments I could be doing. I am seeing a naturopath on Monday who is also an oncologist and I’m going to talk about it all with him.

I promise you I will be weighing out ALL my options before I do anything.

My MRI was yesterday. It went fine. It was like laying on an uncomfortable massage table with my boobs hanging down into two holes. The whole thing took about 25 minutes. I think the hardest part for me was holding my breath for 20 seconds. Ha ha. I can’t breath very deeply lately. I’m all shallow stress breathing.

Don’t worry. I’m working on that thanks to guided meditations on my iphone and a little bit of Ativan.

So that’s where I am today.

I would love to hear from other woman who have had mastectomies. Would love to know what you wish you had done differently and how you feel about the choices you made.

I would also love to hear from my feminist sisters about what you think about this pink ribbon bullshit.ย  All this “we can make you a viable appealing woman again” crap is making me crazy. Can we talk about this?? The language has got to change.

Lastly … I love you guys.

I can’t believe how much love and support I have. It’s wonderfully overwhelming and I’m trying to take it all in and use it to propel myself forward.

I’m ever so thankful for you.

 

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48 Responses to All aboard the cancer train …

  1. Erica Rose says:

    Girl, you’ve GOT this! Looking forward to hearing about your meeting w/ plastics. Just remember, sometimes the easiest thing to do is make only the most pressing decisions right now. Glad to hear you have a great support system, it makes a huge difference. Hugs to you, lovely lady.

  2. Jeez
    Fuck cancer man, fuck it.
    I have several friends who have done several variations on the reconstruction thing. I’d be happy to put you in touch.
    My cousin runs the website ‘Pink Hope’ . It’s a bit “pink ribbony” but has a good section on reconstruction http://pinkhope.org.au/inform/surgery/#.UU5Bexwhjng
    I’m with you on the breasts=woman blah blah blah etc. You’re alive. You’re smart. You’re sometimes happy, sometimes not. That makes you beautiful.
    xoxo
    -g

  3. Allison says:

    Sarah,
    Your realism is inspiring. I wish you nothing but the best.
    -Allison

  4. Jas Faulkner says:

    This>>>>>> I am appealing because Iโ€™m me. <<<<<<<< This.

    Damn straight.

    Fingers crossed, rosaries promised to the appropriate entities, and hopes offered for a good outcome.

  5. Jena Gaines says:

    As someone who has never seen your breasts, I can’t imagine that you will be any less lovely without one or both of them. I’d gladly give you mine if it would help you feel better. I hate that pink ribbon crap too. Perhaps you could have a look at Susan Sontag’s Illness as Metaphor, which she wrote while being treated for advanced breast cancer. Some of your feelings echo hers. I am thinking of you, and making one of your recipes every day until you are cancer-free.

  6. Cathi C. says:

    Do what you feel is right for YOU! If I was considering reconstruction, I’d be like you and want it done at the same time so I could channel all my efforts into healing and moving forward and NOT wanting to have to deal with another surgery. If you decide against reconstruction in the NOW its not to say you couldn’t choose to have it in the future if its important to you. As for clothing and such, have you thought about visiting a specialty shop to see what your lingerie options are as far as enhancements go?

    You are inspirational to so many and thank you for sharing this. Big love and healing vibes your way. Oh and the pink thing? Kinda drives me cray-cray but its all about awareness which is a good thing.

  7. jen says:

    On one hand, I hate that the doctors promote reconstruction as your best option. They should be unbiased when presenting your options. On the other hand, I think reconstruction seems like a great idea because it’s kind of like saying “hey, cancer, you’re not going to take anything away from me.” I can’t speak from experience and I honestly don’t know what my decision would be in the same situation. My grandmother had a full mastectomy and uses a falsie, although she ditches it on really hot days because it gets uncomfortable.

  8. Taryn says:

    You.
    You. Are. Amazing.
    I keep reading, and being blown away by your articulation on such a dizzying raft of decisions to make, in such a heavy period.
    Got yer back, Sarah.
    Love from Van…
    TO’G

  9. Nanci says:

    I applaud you from Northern California. You are such an amazing person! I am honored to be able to read what you have been going through during this troubling time. I hope you continue to share. You are a breath of fresh air with the pink ribbon campaign. I believe your blog can raise even more awareness, from the true and realistic viewpoint. Thanks again for sharing yourself with us. We are the lucky ones.

  10. Laura says:

    Thank you so much for sharing your experience. I say, fuck the pick shit. Put on some amazing tattooed ribbon / scarf / whatever and say it is to raise awareness about your awesomeness. You may or may not build a “sisterhood” with other breast cancer survivors, but it will be on your terms, with the people whose experiences resonate the most with you. Not because some random organization insists you wear pink from head to toe, re-accessorize your entire life to be pink, and embrace the sisterhood of cancer survivors! You’re an original. Embrace it ๐Ÿ™‚

    You will have ups and downs on this journey (duh). While everyone will be supportive, you will occasionally get the comments along the lines of, “wow, you’re so strong. How did you do it?” Well wouldn’t it be nice to have had a choice in the matter, jackass! (I say that with love of course). Do what YOU need to do for YOU. One foot in front of the other. Your way has worked for you pretty well so far. Why stop now?

    Hugs, love, support from Washington, D.C.

    – Laura

  11. Peter Keller says:

    While I am not a feminist *sister*, I am also sick of the pink ribbon, not only because of the body-shaming, but also because so many companies and organizations slap them on the very products that are linked to breast cancer. And Susan G. Komen funds animal research, which we all know provides data that doesn’t translate to human modality.

    The language needs to change among men as well–the expectations of men needing women to be “viably appealing” needs to be broken down and have men accept women for who they are, no matter what women have to go through in order to survive diseases like breast cancer.

    I wish you well, and I’m sure you’ll come to the decision that’s right for you. Here’s hoping for some good news!

  12. Karen says:

    I have not yet faced this decision, but with my family history, it may happen. My mom had breast cancer at age 42, and had a total radical mastectomy (chest wall, lymph nodes, etc.) I was 16 at the time, and it seemed like the most awful surgery, ever. My mom was a beautiful woman – Elizabeth Taylor beautiful- and I remember asking her, many years later, how she felt about losing her breast. No reconstruction. She said she never looked back, and would do it again tomorrow. She heard “cancer”, and immediately just wanted it gone. She said she was grateful it was “only a breast” and not an arm or leg. Once it was cancerous, she disowned it, it was no longer welcome as part of her body. She opted not to have reconstruction because she didn’t want any more surgery. Her cancer never came back, and she never missed the breast …. and she remained a very appealing woman. I only hope for half her courage and common sense if my turn comes.
    Oh- and she would have kicked the surgeon’s ass if he used the term “unappetizing” !!

  13. Jerilyn says:

    Sarah, you are SO going to kick cancer’s ass.

    I’m sorry that I don’t have any relevant experience or advice for you. I agree with Cathi, do what you feel is right for YOU. The decision is yours and there is not a wrong one. You will continue being the same awesome woman with or without breasts. It must be so overwhelming to have to make that decision on top of your diagnosis. You are an insanely strong woman.

    Sending good luck and love your way. Xox

  14. Jenny says:

    A decision like this is so hard to gain clarity with at times. Having reconstructive at the same time as the mastectomy may be ideal – but not necessary. Sometimes feeling like I have ultimatum decisions to make makes it really hard for me to make a decision at all, but that could just be me and my anxiety ‘disorder’ talking. You are ridiculously beautiful, and I could still say that if I hadn’t ever seen what you look like. Be you – I like you.

    The pink ribbon campaign bugs the hell out of me. Why does breast cancer awareness need to conform to gender scripts with pink? And does the soft feminine colour pink allow people to think it is a soft feminine cancer? I once heard a guy say to his friend whose mother had just been diagnosed say “at least it isn’t lung or liver cancer, I hear those are so awful”. Uh, excuse me, she has cancer – there is no spectrum of which body part is worse than others.

    As always, you rock entirely, for wanting to talk about the things most people don’t want to talk about. Thanks for being you.

  15. amy says:

    You do what is right for you and what will make you feel like you. If it’s “vain” sfw. I don’t have personal experience in this so I don’t know what I would. My grandmother had a double mastectomy with no reconstructive surgery and it didn’t make her any less than a woman. Her choice was hers and what she felt was right for her. Also, I hate that pink ribbon shit. ๐Ÿ™‚ Good luck in it all, no matter what your choice is it’s your choice..

  16. Libby says:

    I’ve not had a mastectomy, but I have had cancer that was threaded with radiation to my chest, so now I am at an increased risk of breast cancer ( always a happy thought at the age of 21). The MRI, I call the holes the “boobie baskets”

    I have had 7 years to think about the what if’ s if one of my scans comes back not good. I’m with you, my breasts are the one thing that I am happy with on my body. They might be that pain in the butt dense tissue, but they are perky and look decent in my book.

    I know friends that have had both removed, and not reconstructed. Flat chested and falsies work for them, but I like my body symmetrical. If it ever comes down to myself, I would get it rebuilt, no nipple, and put an awesome tattoo on that baby.

    I have had surgery in my breast tissue for my portacath placement and removal, and even with just that smaller surgery, I would prefer to be sore only once. Not heal, then go get cut again. Plus I know that my body is really good at forming scar tissue, so the less cutting and healing the better.

    It’s not going to be a cake walk, cancer sucks. But, it’s okay to cry, it okay to get mad, it’s okay to just eat cake if that is what you feel like doing that day.

    Onward and upward!

  17. Marly says:

    Hi Sarah.

    I really like and appreciate how frankly you’re talking about your experience already, both to release the feelings from inside and to let stupid cancer know you’re in charge now that it’s been discovered and that you’re ready to decimate it.

    With this, I’m sorry to hear you need to lose a breast. Yes, in the scheme of things it’s ‘just flesh’, but it’s yours dammit. And one you like and enjoy on top of it, along with its beautiful partner. ๐Ÿ˜‰ Forget how anyone else might respond to this loss, and focus on yours. It’s all about you right now, and you warrant every kindness and care during this time.

    At age 40 I was diagnosed with Stage II cancer of the left breast. It also required a mastectomy — as well as chemo and radiation treatments. I wanted both breasts removed at the same time as it seemed ridiculous to have one boob, but had great opposition from my medical team due to ‘their’ concern about psychological ramifications a double mastectomy might have on me (based on the responses of most women undergoing a same treatment). I didn’t have the strength at the time to say, “Just do it.”, and didn’t want reconstruction. The stuff I was reading about implants (both saline and silicone) was scaring the crap out of me and, having cancer, I was afraid of having other foreign stuff in me. So, I ended up being a uni-boober. For a short while I had a temporary sponge-like boob — which popped out of my bathing suit one day while swimming at a friend’s pool, and floated to the surface; I also forgot it in their change room one time too. It was a good story making item. Eventually this was replaced by a silicone ‘falsie’ and it sat a little better in the special mastectomy bra pocket. Still it seemed to have a mind of its own on occasion and would wander around a bit.

    A year and a half later some other dynamics warranted a therapeutic mastectomy of my right breast. So, one thing I would have changed off the top is getting both boobs off at the same time, like I originally wanted. Anyway, I then became a double, slightly concaved chest non-boober. Frankly, except for the weird way it looked, I really enjoyed not having boobs. It’s strangely freeing. But then, I also enjoyed being bald during chemo — it felt so clean — and, unlike my breasts, I knew the hair was eventually coming back!)

    About another year and a half after that, I met a breast surgeon who was also a brilliant researcher in the area of implants and such. I learned that the silicone implants now are in fact safe and don’t leak as they’re made of a cohesive gel (even the saline one can still, and are at risk for collecting bacteria from possible backwash). I signed up for reconstruction and, other it being hilarious that there’s no jiggle movement when I run, or bend over during yoga etc., I’m really happy with my reconstruction choice. I also don’t mind choosing to do delayed reconstruction. It’s what I needed to feel safe and sure. You will find your new happy place with this too. Just take the time you need to trust yourself and find your new normal.

    I’d also like to add that, I have boob buddies in the US who have been to the best cancer treatment centers there and, you can be rest assured, the BC Cancer Agency expertise is easily on par with them (even if we don’t have ultra luxury hospital rooms like some of theirs). That said, I would also find a surgeon who has done a lot of breast work. In Canada we don’t have the population to support specialized breast surgeons like in the US so we’re often offered up a general surgeon and the quality can be a bit rougher looking than with someone who solely does breast work — if you know what I mean.

    As for the pink thing, I believe it has it’s place. Sometimes it seems like everyone is trying to make a buck from it, and sometimes I still enjoy and appreciate that there’s a community out there to reach out to.

    Sarah, I sincerely wish you all the best and feel free to contact me if you’d like any additional perspectives or support. There’s a giant network of options in the latter regard too. Thankfully, breast cancer is no longer a hush hush subject.

    Take good care. — Marly in Vancouver

  18. Krystyna says:

    You just focus on getting healthy. Seriously, the concern this doctor displayed over how your boob might look after is ridiculous! do what you need to do for your health. No intelligent person will ever judge you because you have uneven breasts because of breast cancer. I hate that the breast cancer campaigns out there tend to reduce women to their breasts – as in women are important because they have pretty breasts to look at, so losing those breasts is the worst part about breast cancer. NO, losing women is the worst part. If losing a breast saves your life then that’s what matters. I have had small breasts all my life and can kind of understand some people’s desire to get implants after a mastectomy. The sick thing is I have caught myself going “well if I ever did have breast cancer, at least I could have an excuse to get my boobs done.” But that’s a really horribly messed up way of thinking, and where I am now, if I were in your position, I would try to just be like “fuck it, THIS is what cancer looks like, I have survived, and if it makes someone uncomfortable looking at this, then screw them.”

    Whatever you decide to do for yourself is fine and no one should judge you for your decision. But I would not stress about how your breasts might look after a procedure that will hopefully save your life.

    <3 Stay strong.

  19. Susan Lahti (Corey's Mom) says:

    Hi Sarah, As you probably know from Corey I was diagnosed with breast cancer November 2011. When my surgeon gave me the options, of a lumpectomy or a mastectomy I just knew immediately that the right thing for me was the mastectomy. I said ‘I love my breasts but this is what I need to do’. I thanked my left breast for being able to nurse my children and then within 2 weeks I had had the mastectomy. My surgeon did not recommend me doing the reconstruction at the same time as I also had the HER/2 gene and his recommendation was to wait for a year. Which I did and to this date (1 year and 4 months later) I am cancer free. My surgeon is amazing and he checks me every 3 months (Love that man). I did not do chemo or the herceptin (targets the HER/2 gene). I chose to do things naturally. Both my surgeon and my doctor/naturopath are both totally supportive of my choices). I made my diet more alkaline, chose to work 4 out of 5 days instead of 5/5 (reduced my stress level) (harder financially but one of the best choices I made), did tai chi and took other natural supplements (in the online link I emailed you) to detox myself from excess estrogen (my cancer was estrogen positive). I feel wonderful. I know I made the right decision for me.

    However speaking of reconstruction I decided that I am going to do this and am on the list with the reconstruction surgeon (have met him twice already and waiting for an opening at the hospital). It will be a temporary implant and then replacing that with a permanent one. He will then slightly reconstruct the other breast to match the new ‘fake’ one. And yes to make it look more esthetically pleasing in closes. I honestly am looking forward to getting this started. But you need to know that I feel absolutely fabulous about all the decisions I have made. They have been right for me. I journaled a lot and I can honestly say that in some weird way this had given me my life back or a redo. I consider myself to be body intuitive and I never looked back. I am back at the gym, meditating, etc.

    And all above are right. Having a mastectomy does not determine who you are as a woman. You are beautiful and amazing just for being you. I have never felt unappealing or unattractive with one breast. At the moment I have a prothesis. I feel healthy, and strong and empowered. I have never felt like a victim in this. I am me. These were my choices. Trust yourself. Your choice is yours to make and no one else’s.

    Lots of love and hugs, Namaste
    Susan

    • Susan Lahti (Corey's Mom) says:

      Because I am a nerd that way or anal I noticed I have a typo. 6 lines down in the 2nd paragraph. It is to be clothes not closes. Lol.

  20. Brittany says:

    So, I am not in the same position as you, and I know anything I imagine is probably not even near to how it really feels. But I am the same way about my boobs and dresses. I love my boobs. And I love wearing dresses. You might just have to decide how often you want to tell your story. If you don’t get any reconstruction and you go out wearing dresses and stuff, some women will say something.

    Also, I guess you also have to imagine what it would feel like to put on those dresses with or without a boob. Will you feel proud that you have taken on this fight and plan on winning? Or are you going to want to move forward onto your new outlook on life. Either way is ok as long as its ok with you.

    I’d like to say you are your worst critic, but that might not be true with the Internet these days. ๐Ÿ™‚ but you can’t please everyone. You have to have peace with your decision. And I have no doubt you will. You are a bright light.

  21. Mimi says:

    I had a lumpectomy then decided to go for a full mastectomy rather than further removal of margins around the tumor site — no regrets there. Mastectomies are less common these days so I had to press for this procedure; bad tissue and I just wanted it all gone. I had reconstruction believing that it would make me look more normal after treatment was done — no regrets there. My GP said worry about treatment first and looks later but I held onto my decision to do immediate reconstruction because I wanted to do it eventually and thought to save a surgery down the line. You may be on the Cancer Train, but you do not need to get railroaded.
    Now I do look okay with clothes on. No clothes? I ain’t gonna kid you, the description of lump is fairly accurate in my case. Others have implants that look quite a bit more real.
    I would say talk to survivors, not just health practitioners. You will get more information in advance rather than always learning what they want you to know only when they are ready to tell you.
    If I had to do anything differently, and on this I am not even sure, it would be the reconstruction element but that is because I am having problems with the implant shifting and causing me ongoing physical issues. At this point, I am ready to just have it taken out. But that may be a reflection of frustration with the medical system and the glacial rate at which it operates to address patient concerns.
    By the way, I don’t know ANY survivors who are on board with the whole Pink thing. Everyone finds it beyond ridiculous.
    About the idea of making a you “a viable appealing woman again”, that is a load of crap. What they do to you will not have make you not viable or unappealing in the first place. Maybe you need to find a different surgeon if that is his perspective. However in his defense, surgeons frequently do not have a good bedside manner and there may be some patients who believe that having a breast removed would diminish them, and he was just giving you the standard line. He is addressing the disfigurement of a breast, something which some women may have a greater emotional investment than you or I.
    I wish you peace.

  22. Colleen says:

    I utterly adore you! You are so smart and honest. I kinda want to have my women’s studies students read these posts. I recently taught a class entitled “Speaking Bodies” and your writing reminds me of Audre Lorde’s _The Cancer Journals_ and Barbara Ehrenreich’s _Brightsided_. Lorde has a fantastic (and angry) section about breast implants and Ehrenreich is all about her feelings on the bullshit of the pink ribbon campaign. xo

  23. Sam says:

    It sounds like the reconstruction part focuses to much on making your boobs nice for other people with words like appealing. There’s nothing wrong with YOU wanting a boob shaped boob. It’s not vain to miss that a part of your body looked a certain way for most of your life. So don’t beat yourself up about that stuff. You’re right reconstruction is much less important that treating cancer and kicking its ass but its still allowed to be a priority. When you think about your options don’t let the end of that thought trail be “oh there’s the vanity”. So fucking what it’s the perfect time to be narcissistic. Sending much love x x

  24. Amanda McSwain says:

    You are brilliant for your realism about the cancer train. Our society makes too big of a deal about breasts, their only real purpose is to feed our young after that they are only ornamental. I have never even been an “A” cup, as my family states I am the director of the teeny tiny titty committee. What makes you a woman is how you act, dress, feel, express yourself, and live.
    Stay strong, allow yourself to feel, experience the moment and know that everything will work out.
    Namaste,
    Amanda

  25. Tasha Zahn says:

    Sarah,
    You are incredible. My mom talks a lot about the pink ribbon stuff. She is a chef and is involved with Relay for Life. All these men with the biggest hearts running around in pink bras raising money. They are breaking their backs to support the women they love, but there is something that bothers her to the core that the only way we can talk about breasts is to be silly. You’ve had me thinking a lot about what I would do in your shoes. I know you need to be hearing from people who are in your shoes right now, so I won’t take a lot of your time. But if I were, I would need to become a warrior. Something very different from pink. You are in my thoughts and prayers. Thank you so much for taking us on your journey. I want to know every little thing you want to share, and I am here to support you.
    Love from Eugene,
    Tasha

  26. Rosalie Peck says:

    Sarah,
    I was 47; had bilateral masectomy, had multiple implants due to my body rejected
    Them then heard of The breast Restoration center in New Orleans, the Dr’s are great and yes use your own body fat from thigh, buttock, or tummy area.
    They are The Best And Well Recognized for their compassion towards women diagnosed with breast cancer. They helped cover 90% of my fee! I flew there at no cost, stayed for 10 days had limo service to and from my hotel.
    Attitude is everything when experienceing this cancer, stay positive and strong, which I have no doubt you Will!
    Rosalie

  27. Marina says:

    Not sure if you’ve seen it, but I’ve heard good things about Pink Ribbon Inc – there’s a book and a DVD…it may not help with the decisions you are facing but you might find it interesting given your unease with the pink ribbon stuff… http://www.nfb.ca/film/pink_ribbons_inc/trailer/pink_ribbons_inc_trailer.

    My husband and I are sending you so much love and support from Nanaimo…

  28. It feels like a roller coaster w/ no seatbelt because it totally is one. You got that right!

    After emailing you I popped over here and read your latest blogs. Glad to see you are on board with Pink Ribbon Inc and finding some peace in guided meditations and our beloved friend Ativan. Those two things kept me from losing my mind in those first few months.

    I wanted to add that I don’t regret my decision in my mastectomy and immediate recon. Everyone is different and you definitely will choose what is best for you. My plastic surgeon in Vancouver is A-FREAKING-MAZING and she did a great job. I get the rest of my boob next month actually! Yay for fake nipples (it’s the little things, right?)

    I don’t have any regrets… although sometimes I do think about the fact that I only did a single MX. Sometimes I have so much worry about the other side that I wish I had just done both. But I know that that is just natural fears that surface and I often can tame them and get them to go away!

    You will do whatever works for you. You will still be a woman whatever route you decide on. I found those books frustrating too… and you gotta just eye roll with the ridiculous stuff the surgeons and oncologists say. They may have poor bedside manners, but I hear that those ones are the best at what they do.

    Lots of love, peace + strength

    – Ashley

  29. Kristin says:

    Sarah,
    I have to let you know that I am in complete awe of you. Your honesty about your thoughts and feelings about what you are going through is amazing.
    I send you good thoughts and well wishes. You are an amazing person who deserves only amazing things.
    Thank you.
    Kristin

  30. Tia says:

    Just thought I’d say I’m thinking positive thoughts! My mom had cancer (she’s cancer free now) but she says not to just go with Western medicine! Try all the alternatives available as well as the Western treatments! Chinese herbal medicine, acupuncture, meditation. I also love this documentary for my own perspective on life (Not just cancer):

    http://kriscarr.com/products/crazy-sexy-cancer/

  31. Regan says:

    Sarah – tears form as I type this. None of this is new….others clearly share the same feelings I share here. You are such a voice and you’ve been such a voice for ‘vegan’ for so long….this is another avenue….and I commend you on how open you are being and that honesty – sharing your fears, anger, frustration – your raw insides…it can’t be easy but clearly its important for you as this is how you’re actually moving through this – right now. No one who hasn’t been through this could possible get how scary this must feel but you are so strong, and you have incredible support. One day at a time sister…..allow yourself to kick and scream – lean on those you feel comfortable leaning on. Stay positive as best you can. Be honest with yourself and how much you can do. If your gut is talking, listen. You’ll get through this. Focus on today. We are all here thinking of you and sending you love and good healing energy. You are not alone. xo

  32. Mr Lady says:

    I know we’ve only met once and that was in a completely professional context but I am just going to say it: You’re hot. You’lll always be hot. Better yet, you’ll always BE.

    We got you, dude. Go kick some cancer ass.

  33. It’s such a whirlwind of choices and procedures! So sorry you need to deal with any of it. When they took my right breast, I knew right away I didn’t want it reconstructed simply because I hate hospitals, and never wanted to go in again. (If I could, I would have run away entirely – but chemo was calling.) In any case, I’ve heard of people who have, and haven’t had reconstruction and both seem happy, though reconstruction is obviously a much longer road. They are difference choices, for sure, but either way you will make it through.

  34. Nikki says:

    Sarah,

    You’re awesome and every single day you and your message make the world a better place.

    Don’t get down on yourself about considering an implant to fill in what you’ve lost/your dresses. It doesn’t make you a bad feminist and it doesn’t change who you are.

    Good luck with everything. You’ll be in our, (the people of the internet’s), thoughts.

  35. Connie says:

    I’ve been down this road a couple of times, and I wouldn’t do a thing differently. The first time, I had a lumpectomy, 2 years of chemo and 37 radiation treatments. The cancer recurred 3 years later so I got a bilateral mastectomy (against my oncologist’s recommendation. My left breast was cancer-free…for the moment. I’d already started getting the microcalcifications and could see the road ahead: iffy mammos every 6 months followed by biopsies and waiting for results. No thank you very much! I have a life to live and things to do. Who needs the stress?). So, bilateral mastectomy plus the tummy-tuck style reconstruction. I didn’t care at all about boobs at the time, but being relatively young, and like you reeeeeeeeeeelly not wanting any more surgery down the road, I got the tram-flap done during the same surgery. I’ve chosen the “Barbie Look” (no nipples, and no plans to get any) and have never looked back. I feel completely freed from all the semi-annual drama. I’d recommend it to anyone considering this particular alternative. However, we’re all unique. I’m sure you’ll do the research, take your time and consider ALL alternatives, then do what’s right for you. And this will be the “right” choice.

  36. Connie says:

    I forgot to say: after the mastectomy and tram-flap procedure (plus a cancerous lesion removed from my forehead the same day – Diagnosis Week absolutely floored me) which took close to nine hours, I was actually on my feet the next day. I went into surgery otherwise strong and healthy, and was determined that cancer absolutely wouldn’t knock me down. I was in the hospital for 6 days, and spent the days up walking the halls as much as the nurses and my doctor would allow. It drove them crazy. Again, I wouldn’t do a thing differently: get up and get moving ASAP. Shorter recovery, really good for your spirits (you need to feel like you’re actively contributing to your recovery). Eat well (that’s a no-brainer for you!) and keep a positive attitude – it’s a great prescription!

  37. Brian says:

    You’re amazing, Sarah. Stay strong and show cancer what a superstar you really are.

  38. Sarah, I don’t have any advice or wisdom, and wish I could instantly fix the BS talk about women’s bodies (especially raising three girls and going through the feelings/influences with them all over again).

    What I do want to say is that your openness about every step and the feelings you are having, and the reactions to those feelings (and with unwavering humor!) will, without doubt, be so helpful to many women. Thinking of you, and hoping others bring more help and wisdom your way. oo’s!

  39. Becci says:

    “He said if he cut it and sewed it back together as/is it would be โ€œunappetizingโ€ and then quickly changed his wording to โ€œunappealingโ€.”

    Wait, and you DIDN’T kick him in the teeth? Bravo, Sarah. :/

  40. Jackie says:

    Dear Sarah,

    I have been a follower of your books for many years. I am a photographer based in Vancouver, BC. I don’t know if this is wildly inappropriate, but I just wanted to offer my photography services to you, if there is ever a time during this journey that you would like to have your portrait taken. I think the SCAR project is wonderful. I would be more than willing to come to Victoria. I have friends there who I could visit and stay with.

    All the best tomorrow. You are strong. You are a women. We look forward to hearing you roar!

    Jackie

  41. MondyJukobs says:

    Hey, I’m considering having breast implant surgery. My issue is about having over muscle as I’m extremely active meaning that I do crossfit. Does anyone have any feedback? I am still to see the the doctor as I am still unsure re the surgery. Thankyou

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