I really debated over how much to share. I wasn't sure if I wanted to put these photos out publicly. I finally decided it needed to be done. Modesty can be put aside for the purpose of educating and bringing a real awareness of breast cancer.
On June 13, 2016, I went in for a bilateral mastectomy to remove the cancer from my body. (The original post is here.)
Right breast: modified radical mastectomy. The cancerous tumors in my right breast were removed, as well as the surrounding breast tissue and 12 lymph nodes. (I originally thought it was 8-10, but before surgery the doctor told me 1-3 was what he expected to remove based on my MRI.)
Left breast: prophylactic mastectomy (preventative)
I've always been a big girl. With big breasts. No shame, it's just the way I was made. In my younger years, I hated the unwanted attention they drew...til my promiscuous phase when I enjoyed it. Marriage and children changed my life and my body, including my breasts. When I came to the Lord, I learned to love the body my Creator had given me and was amazed at the ability he had given me to bear children and feed them.
Cancer is a thief. It has stripped me of so much. I remember asking my surgeon just before going into surgery if my tiny flower tattoo, my first from when I was 19, would still be there (on my left breast) when I woke up. It was such a little detail but I was grasping at anything that could remain untouched. The surgeon spared my tiny flower. Barely.
My post surgery photos, clockwise from top left:
My "before" photo, censored only as much as necessary; immediately following surgery, complete with my drain tubes and bandages (I had to use the stretchy gauze since I blistered from an allergic reaction to the tape adhesive); me, breastless, with just steri-strips remaining; the fleshy and fluid contents of my drain tubes, measured twice daily, even when they clogged; and my drain site, a plastic tube stitched to my side.
Folks, I'll say it again- It's not about pink ribbons. Breast cancer- no, ALL cancer- sucks. It's not cute or pretty or sexy. It may be Breast Cancer Awareness Month but most people already ARE aware. It touches so many lives. They just need to know they can do something about it. Check your breasts regularly. Think before you buy those pink-ribboned items this month. Know where your money is going. If you're inclined to donate to my battle against breast cancer, there are no fees and your entire donation will go towards my fight and my recovery.
I know where every single dollar I've spent on breast cancer has gone this year. My research, my treatment, my healing is not over. And there are so many others like me.
NOTE: This post has been shared with the blessing and support of my family, for the purpose of sharing our story and educating others.