Talking About *Losing Your* Breasts

I know, in making the decision to write and share my journey through breast cancer, that I was opening up myself to the universe in a big scary way. And I have never, not for one moment regretted it. The outpouring of love, support, positive energy and financial support has been more powerful than anything I could possibly have hoped for or imagined. I literally could not have survived without it.

But I don't want people to get the wrong idea - especially people who might also be struggling through their own battle right now. 

Yes, I choose my happiness, every second of every day. Yes, I could be miserable. In fact I have weepy, wet, painful days all the time. I think these are healthy. I think if I didn't have them I wouldn't be "being positive" I would be locking all my thoughts up somewhere dark where they could fester and turn into some dark evil poison that would prob turn into a curse on me and everyone I love.

So let me be clear here about two things. 1) Being upset is OK. Get it out! Whether it's cancer, or someone being mean to you or just a bad day at work, being human means dealing with shit and you have to let the dark in to get the light.

2) Sometimes, when you try hard to be positive, people can forget just how hard a time you are having. So I wrote this sort of , we'll call it a rant, on my facebook wall - after a very upset morning where I went back and forth over and over again what to do.  I hope that it wont provoke a bad reaction (you never know with the internet) but I think it needed to be said. If not for my sake (because my feelings were getting hurt) than for the sake of the other people out there who may be struggling with people's reactions when they share their own journey through breast cancer.

Breast cancer is a special kind of cancer because it has a very profound effect on a very public part of your body - your breasts. It's not an internal organ, not blood or bones or your liver. And because people comment on healthy breasts all the time, it can be hard to realize how different it is to make a comment when someone is facing losing this very public part of their body. 

Just for a little backstory - the comments occurred on a picture I took while waiting for a consultation with a plastic surgeon. I had been left, alone, and in nothing but an ugly hospital robe, in a cold little blue room, to watch a (scary) but repetitive video about breast reconstruction. It literally kept repeating "Remember, no reconstruction can ever recreate the look or feel of your actual breasts."

And I had just been having a conversation with one of my super bunny's - who's also about to have a mastectomy/reconstruction - about how much we really really wanted to design some cute, comfortable, not awful hospital gowns. And so I posted this:

And this is the response I got:

Now, to say these comments were upsetting to me might be a small understatement. I was devastated. What a harsh reminder about what I was going to lose. But then I realized, maybe it was my fault. Maybe I had been setting the wrong tone for this conversation. And so I decided to post this:

I think I've been so good about keeping a positive attitude that something might have been missed by people who would never intentionally want to hurt my feelings - so I think I should just make sure this is clear. When I finish chemo I will be having a bilateral mastectomy. This is my decision based on the doctors recommendations about how best to prevent my rapidly developing cancer from coming back and a lot of factors including high risk of recurrence, dense, hard to monitor breasts and a desire to avoid being cut open every 6 months for the next 40 years of my life. This decision is devastating, and even though I know it's the right decision for me, there are no words to express how sad I am about having my breasts cut off and my body changed forever, at the age of 29. The comments about my cleavage, even as compliments, are incredibly painful right now, because in a few weeks I will be facing a painful, long recovery and the loss of my breasts forever. I will never breast feed a baby, or be able to have someone see me naked without the scars of the hardest year of my life on display for everyone to see. I have always loved, and been proud of my figure (and my breasts) and now they will be gone. I know that everyone loves me and is just trying to help lighten the mood, but I just can't joke about this - and it's hard for the other people I know who are going through the same thing and who are also seeing these quotes second hand. Please know my intention was not to make anyone else feel bad - just to try to stop the comments that are making me feel bad and to educate people about how you can support someone going through something like this. thank you for understanding (and all your love and support) xoxo

So, there it is - the dark, not always positive side of Dena. 

If you are reading this, and you are going through hurricane BC, know that having a positive attitude also means letting yourself feel all the things you need to feel - sad, angry, confused, hurt. 

And if you are reading this, and you are healthy, maybe take it easy on your beautiful body. I still wish I was thinner/shorter/tanner/etc etc etc but now I wish I had been more grateful for what I had while I had it.