Friday, 30 March 2012

Recovery and Results - My Thoughts and Feelings

Relaxing Post-op + Happy
Okay, let's be honest BRCA gals this is the probably the information you REALLY want. I know this is the information I spent hours scowering the internet for. And I know I would be doing my fellow BRCA girls a disservice if I didn't give you all a real and candid account addressing my results and recovery process. So, without further adieu...let's get started!

I have been very honest about my struggle to accept the impending changes to my body. And my concerns about the toll this decision would take on my body image and self esteem. I think facing what the results will really mean is a HUGE battle for most BRCA women. I can still vividly remember the day I googled images of the post-op Prophylactic Bilateral Mastectomy and realized that I was not going to have nipples. I was inconsolable and was in full on melt down mode in the middle of the university library. I was by all accounts a hot mess. This stirred up so many feelings and questions about my femininity, my sexuality, and my self worth. I felt lost, confused, and more than anything else sad.

I think that day was the day that reality finally set it. I realized that there was no great option as a BRCA gal. Your choice is essentially - willing self-mutilation or face an eventual positive cancer diagnosis. Not a great reality. Not great at all. (*sigh*)

But (yes there is a but) because I faced that reality, and truly embraced this process the good and the bad - I realized how committed I truly was to my health. This wasn't an easy choice but it was the choice I still wanted to make when I laid it all on the table. That is how I knew I was doing the right thing for me.

That all being said...I was still terrified about how I would actually feel when I woke from my drug enduced sleep to face the results. I thought I would struggle to embrace the changes at first. I assumed that the first few weeks of recovery would be a little dark. That I would likely experience a period of mourning, but would eventually move on. I tried to be honest with myself and realistic about my expectations.

Truthfully though, I woke up Monday afternoon, peaked under my gown, and was just so damn happy that this process was over. These new nipple-less implants were now just a part of me. They are a part of my new happy and healthy life. And while my journey has been a very long and emotional one - I have learned a lot about self love.

The fear, anxiety, and anticipation I experienced pre-op was based on an idea that once I changed this part of my body that something pivotal to my sense of self would be lost. But when I woke up post-op I was still me. My life was still my life. My goals were still my goals. My family and friends were still loving and supportive. My husband still adored me and even still thinks I am pretty cute. The only thing that had really changed (besides the nipples) was that I was no longer at risk of Breast Cancer.

Note: Below are my After pictures. This is as exposed and as real as I am willing to get because I blog under my real name and my Dad reads my blog. But there are some amazing resources and women who are willing to be much more real than I am so if you want to see how everything will really look post-op I recommend checking out Amanda at BRCA and Me, the resources at Be Bright Pink, and the beautiful and inspiring images on display at The Scar Project.

My After Images

So while I still see a person that is healing and my set of fresh scars when I look in the mirror.
I also see I girl who is in charge of her body.
I see a girl who loves her body because she knows how hard she worked to get to this point.
I see a girl who is strong physically and mentally.
I see a girl who is happy.
I see a girl who is thankful and grateful.
I see a girl who has big dreams and a great life - and knows it.
I see a girl who has her whole life ahead of her and lots of living to do.
And most importantly I see a girl who is cancer-free and completely in control of her health.

Love Your Favourite Darwinian Fail,