I still needed to learn to live with my body again.
When I was first diagnosed, I desperately wanted to "save my breast."
The lumpectomy left my breast deformed and ugly. It also did not remove all the cancer.
Once I realized that a mastectomy was inevitable, I knew that I wanted reconstruction.
I teach swimming; I am in the locker room all the time; breasts are everywhere.
I am very open about my experiences, but it has always been my choice about when and where to share that information. I did not want the stares, or the pity.
So, I went to one of the best plastic surgeons in the world (thank God for insurance!!). I had a skin-saving mastectomy, followed by DIEP reconstruction, using my own tissue to rebuild my breast. I could still feel sensations on the surface of my skin. Eventually, regenerated nerve tissue created sensation within the breast as well. The new breast became be a part of me, not just some foreign object inserted into my body.
But, was that enough?
On the outside, I looked "normal."
No doubt, that felt good.
But it took time until I could look at my body without just seeing all those scars.
It took a while before "the new breast" became "my breast."
Eventually, the wounds healed and the scars faded.
Once again, I felt "normal."
Normal felt good.
I was done with breast cancer.
My story should end here, but it does not.
Only a few months after I had put cancer behind me, a routine mammogram, and follow up tests, revealed devastating news.
What began in my breast, now resided in my bones, liver and lungs.
I no longer had to worry about my breasts.... I had cancer all over my body.
My journey into the world of breast cancer had only just begun.
Please daven (or send happy, healing thoughts) for RivkA bat Teirtzel.
With love and optimism,