Everything is held together with stories. That is all that is holding us together, stories and compassion. Barry Lopez
I am honoured today to share with you Catherine’s story. As regular readers will know, I believe very strongly that in listening to the stories of others, our own journey of discovery and healing can be enriched. So for this reason, I love to hear the stories of women who have inspired me in their journey with cancer, and when these stories come to me, as the writer Barry Lopez says, “care for them..and learn to give them away where they are needed”.
And now for Catherine’s story….
Two months ago my breast cancer was discovered. Three weeks ago my right breast was removed. Right now I’m waiting for treatment to start.
Cancer has been a bulldozer through my plans, through my life, through my body, but at this moment, as far as I’d like to assume (and despite the treatment I’m about to receive) I’d like to think I’m a breast cancer survivor.
And as a breast cancer survivor, and a mastectomy survivor too – I am relearning to love my body. Looking at the scar I feel mixed emotions: fear, anxiety, pride, anger, fight, loss and resolve. But one feeling I don’t have is repulsion. I do not feel ugly. I do not feel plain. I do not feel unfeminine. I won’t let myself.
Every day I try and love my body, despite what it’s putting me through. As often as possible I forgo the bra with the fake breast, and just let my girl(s) off the leash. And you know what, walking down the street with my strategically pleated v-neck shirts and dresses, I feel damn sexy. In some ways I have more confidence to show more skin (and certainly more hint of nipple) than ever before in my life. It’s like a small sexual revolution – and it makes me feel proud to have survived, and to be surviving, and to continue being strong despite what therapies come next.
Feeling good in my body is one way I fight back. I’d just like to encourage any women who has had a mastectomy (or will have) to not give up on feeling good about your looks. A woman needs to feel beautiful to become beautiful. Learning to love my scar has been a challenge, but accepting the new me and showing it to the world has been a huge boost. I am a breast cancer survivor, and still – one breast down – a fine looking woman!
Thanks for letting me write. If you want to read my blog it’s at bumpyboobs.wordpress.com
What a fantastic story. Catherine you are an inspiration to those of us who have undergone the same thing.
Thanks for sharing Catherine’s story – I found it very moving and also empowering.
Mastectomy is intrinsically linked to body image for many of us so I really admire the way Catherine has dealt with her feelings.
When I had my mastectomy, I used postive self-talk to boost my self esteem.Like Catherine, I remind myself that I am still a beautiful, sexy woman too.
It is important not to rush yourself. Recovery takes time. Take things one day at a time, acknowledge your loss, join a support group and talk about it. Well done Catherine.
Thank you for sharing Catherine’s story – I really admire her grace, courage and honesty and wish her all the very best for the future.
what an inspirational story – thanks for sharing
A wonderfully honest and unflinching look but ultimately empowering account of one woman’s mastectomy. Thank you for sharing – I am sure it will be very helpful to others.
I agree that stories are powerful – they help us feel so much less alone and like Catherine’s story here can help to empower us and give us strength.
Wonderful story! Good luck Catherine with the rest of your treatment. I have no doubt that you will deal with it with the same grace and courage.
Fantastic young and beautiful Catherine. And from Cath to Cath, woman with one single breast to a woman with one single breast, i can say to Catherine, she’s totaly right, and her blog is splendid
Thanks a lot Marie for sharing !
Dear Catherine, i often say on my blog that “my cancer took neither my life nor my womanhood.” So happy meeting you.
Mesdames, Marie et Catherine, bons baisers de Paris !
(Catherine, did you draw yourself the illustrations on your blog ? they’re so design !)
Wow all these comments are so wonderful! Yes, I draw most of the images on my blog – with a little help from Word clip art. It takes some time, but I really get a lot of feeling out while drawing. What is your blog address Cathie? I’d love to read it.
just click on my name 🙂
Marie & Catherine,
Great post, beautifully written.
Every survivor is a champion in my book, and I always bow to them in deference for the courage shown in defiantly combating pain and trauma the disease brings to body and mind.
I’ve also noted the mention of emotional stages & crises in her post we have so deeply discussed here at JBBC. Discussions on looking at scars as warrior-markings and feeling more beautiful about our bodies shows how effectively this blog has prospered along the intended aim of making sense of the cancer experience.
Here is wishing Catherine the very best of luck for the remainder of her treatment and Marie, continued success with the prosperity and development of this blog.
Thank you, Catherine.
I haven’t gone through a mastectomy and I sincerely hope I’ll never have to. However, I can relate to your story.
Having grown up with half of my body smaller than the other half, wearing orthopedics for years, limping and falling a lot, hiding my fairly asymmetric legs under trousers or very long skirts until I was in my mid-twenties… I know how important it is to be proud of your body, whatever it looks like.
If you feel beautiful, people does think you are, indeed, beautiful.
To this day, since I started liking my body as it is, most people only notice my disability first when I’m having a bad day.
Be sexy. Be strong. Be well. Don’t let cancer mess with you
Great post Catherine, thanks for sharing. You have a great outlook that will take you far in this fight. Bets of luck with your upcoming treatments!
Thanks for all your supportive and kind comments. They are so touching. And thanks Marie for letting me post! This has been an excellent experience.
Catherine thanks for being brave enough to share your story! You are an inspiration and I love your can do attitude! What is in the heart comes out of the mouth. You are a truly beautiful woman!
great share, great article, very usefull for me…thank you
avid – mesothelioma resource
Just want to add to these supportive comments Catherine and wish you all the best with your treatment.
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I love Catherine’s post. We define who we are, not those slick, glossy fashion magazines, bizarre looking celebrities desperate for attention or someone else’s thoughtless words. Having the strength to SURVIVE this breast cancer journey is a beautiful, empowering thing in, and of, itself. I’ve had 10 breast cancer surgeries and 8 rounds of chemo and plenty of scars, and I wear them with pride and gratitude.
Thank you, Catherine for empowering us.
Wishing you all God’s blessings,
Thank you for your courage to share your story…sharing our stories is definitely a healing process. And I believe by sharing we are going to help other women through this. I was diagnosed with breast cancer in March of this year and had a bilateral mastectomy in may. It has been a journey that I didn’t want to face…but I did and just went back to work. I had immediate reconstruction and my right implant failed. Now I have a right tissue expander waiting for a new implant. I couldn’t have faced losing my breasts 4 months ago, but today I could. My biggest goal is to reach out to other women in this situation so I can help them. There is definitely not a lot of support…I have been an RN for 20 yrs and have never had a patient in this condition…we need to share our stories and disappointments and successes to give others hope…thank you again Marlise Maxwell
Dear Marlise, thank you so much for stopping by and sharing your own story with us. I too believe like you that there is healing in sharing our stories. May you continue to prosper and heal on your own journey with breast cancer. Marie