Saturday, March 17, 2018

Selfies….Lots of Selfies

Standing in front of the camera was never my favourite thing to do. I hated it when I was a kid and my mom wanted to take photos of me. I really hated getting school photos taken in high school. My wedding day was the first time I could face the camera without cringing inside. 

Our family photo albums  are plastered with photos of my kids and their dad. 

Then I got breast cancer. 

I bought myself an iPod to take photos of myself by myself. I didn't want someone telling me to smile because I sure didn't feel like smiling. 

Many of the photos are still too intimate to share here with you. Photos of my chest bandaged days after the mastectomy. Photos of the fresh scar that travels from the centre of my chest across to my armpit. Those will have to wait a while longer for public viewing. 

Below is a small sampling of self-portraits I've taken since May 2017. 

The day I had my hair cut in prep for it falling out.
The day my daughter shaved my head.

My first bald self-portrait. 

Second bald self-portrait.

A few days later with my favourite hat. 

Goofing around with hat options. 

Another hat.

A few months later when my hair was growing back quickly and I was tired of it all. 

More hair. 
I love this self-portrait. It's captured how I felt that day. I love how my eyes are looking up in hope while I was being swallowed alive by life after cancer.  

 I think that's enough for today. I now have way more curly, unruly, grey hair. My eyes are still dark blue and my left breast still sits where it was intended to be. Life goes on.

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Breast Cancer Sucks

It's been eight months since I was diagnosed with invasive lobular carcinoma and had the mastectomy  (removal of my right breast).

I've kept count of each month as it passes by.

Do I celebrate the year mark?
Or do I just keep counting.
Thirteen months, fourteen months, fifteen months and so on.

Yesterday was my second Skype consult with my oncologist in Victoria. I had lots of questions for her.

The most important to me was:

"Is it normal for my chest bone above the incision to still be so sensitive?"

She told me that yes, it is quite common for women to suffer from chest bone sensitivity for months or possibly longer after a mastectomy. The surgeon removed my breast along with the tumour. He went through flesh, muscles etc. My pectoral muscles were affected. It will take time and exercise to heal them.

My chest is now concave on the right side. I had envisioned being flat chested but not concave. Being concave also affects how the pectoral muscles move and how they recover.

Being concave also affects my posture. I have to be aware that I sit and stand straight to keep from slumping in on the right side. If I slump my back muscles ache and I don't breathe deeply. The physiotherapist tells me my pectoral muscles will shrink and become tighter if I slump. I can feel it happening when I've been sitting around too much and not moving my arms enough.

So many people think that breast cancer is one of the easy cancers to get. I'm here to tell you that NO CANCER IS EASY. It's not just the knowledge that I had cancer but the treatments, the side effects, the pain, the surgery, the continued doctor's appointments, the fear and stress associated with those appointments, the continuous exercises, lifestyle changes, the reminder of cancer every time I look at my chest in the mirror or in the shower and the effort it takes to "be strong, look forward to the future, get on with life".

Now I can get on with my day feeling good that I spoke out and hopefully I'll have great news about no pain above my chest bones. Thanks for listening. xo

Styrofoam and acrylic on braille paper Carole Reid Copyrighted 2017 

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Living With One

Life with one breast is something I'm getting used to. 

My clothes hang differently now. 

The right side  of every outfit looks flat or even concave depending on what top I wearing. 

I'm not using a prothesis or planning on having reconstructive surgery. 

I've only recently started using my cross over the chest purse again.

It rubs against my scar which was very irritating. 

I bought a new swimsuit with a less revealing neckline. 

I've stuffed the right side with quilt batting. 

Sleeping on my right side causes my left breast to fall over to the right side and because there is no right breast to support it, I place a pillow against my chest to hold the left breast in place.

Running feels incredibly weird! I used to bounce equally, now I bounce lopsided. 

I tried on my bras and decided to forgo those forever. Tank tops with built in bras are far more comfortable and help keep the right nipple from rubbling against my shirts. 

On the very brightest side of having the mastectomy is that the tumour is no longer part of me! 

I thank God daily for that.