In support of Breast Cancer awareness month recently, I was asked to write a letter to my body. I thought I might share it with you here. I hope you like it…
For the best part of my life, you have served me well. Together we kept fit living an outdoor, country life. Too busy to care about fashion and makeup, we were constantly on the go, looking for new adventures. We backpacked our way around the world, wind surfed, rode competition horses, drove fast cars, and went scuba diving on the Great Barrier Reef, together we were invincible.
Suddenly, we were 51 but still on the go and still felt great. Even my GP had said that you were the body of someone half our age. So when they told me I had breast cancer and they were going to poison and debilitate you with chemotherapy and all its side effects, it made no sense to me, it made me sad and I felt that I had let you down.
As if it weren’t bad enough that you were to be pumped full of chemicals, you were also going to lose all those long, thick, dark curls but I can honestly say that none of this bothered me one iota. If poisoning you and losing our hair was going to save our life, then that was a perfectly acceptable trade-off as far as I was concerned.
That Christmas Eve when I was diagnosed, I promised you that I would have a double mastectomy and re-construction. I wasn’t going to spend my life crippled with fear and I was going to do everything in my power to take care of you and reduce our risk of the cancer returning. Anyway, I thought you would love a pair of perky, new boobs at our age!
Unfortunately, the bi-lateral mastectomy with immediate reconstruction that I had promised you was not on the cards for us. The Doctors said it was too long an operation after all the aggressive chemo they had put you through. We had six months between our mastectomy ops, allowing me plenty of time to think about you, and at no time did I ever reconsider my decision to have reconstruction. You were going to get the best that I could do for you and the best that the NHS could offer.
The day I woke up from the second mastectomy and bravely peeped down the front of my gown, I was totally and utterly shocked. You were not the grotesque, disfigured, misfit I had expected to see. You were not some weird character you might see hanging out on a Star Trek film set. I saw you so completely differently than I could ever have imagined and to my utter surprise, I liked you. No longer, did I see a lonely breast separated from its lifelong mate; instead, I saw a perfectly nice flat chest with nothing weird or ugly about it. The large wounds would soon mend and the scars would quickly fade but what I found truly amazing was, that despite the drains, the stiches and the general soreness, I felt unencumbered, I felt normal, I felt free!
It’s been three years now and I hope you are happy with my decision, I think you are, I know I am. My friends, family and particularly my husband, love us, not for what we were, not for what we might have been, but for who we are. I am very happy with you, my new flat chested buddy and together, once again, we are ready to take on the world.