I am now almost 13 months from my bilateral mastectomy. 4 months from my first implant swap with silicone implants. 3 1/2 months from damaging my surgery site and the falling of my left implant. 7 weeks from my second implants swap and horribly painful muscle repair. And for the first time since I found the lump in my breast I feel like I’m moving forward with my life.
No more constant reminders of my freakish body every time I move and feel the expanders under my skin. No more sadness or the gut wrenching feeling when seeing my scarred body with hard plastic deformed balls that look glued to my chest. No more trips to the doctor to have my expanders filled, causing tightness and pain for days. No more wondering when my next surgery will be, or what I will look like when this is all over. No more fear of my implant falling further down my abdomen.
I no longer feel like a freak 24 hours a day.
This is not to say that I don’t have my moments still of emotions and mental difficulties. Although I feel more comfortable and I’m not constantly reminded by pain of what my body has been through, I still see myself in the mirror every day and see my scars. I see my nipple-less breasts that almost look and feel normal. Seeing scars stretched across such a feminine area is difficult. It is a reminder of the trials of the past year.
But I am getting back to normal. Being busy helps a lot, and it’s also helpful that I’m not so obviously freakish when wearing clothes. I can lay on my stomach and wear bras and look completely normal in my clothes. My breasts feel real to the touch, which I never would have believed would be possible, especially during the expander stage.
I still have to be very careful because of my muscle damage. I can’t lift much of anything, less than 20 pounds only. I can’t run, jog, bounce, ride horses or motorcycles or in a race car. I can’t push or pull or lean forward for long periods of time. If I over-do it, I can definitely feel the left implant become a little unsettled from where it should be, and it’s a very scary and disturbing feeling. I don’t ever want to have to go through muscle repair again. And if you know me, you know I’m excitable and impulsive, and it’s been so helpful to have people that care about me around me to make sure I behave.
My breasts look ok. They almost look real. These implants are much closer together than my last ones, so I actually have cleavage instead of a huge gap between my breasts. If you really look, you can tell the cleavage is a little odd. My skin was pulled away from my breast bone and the implants actually touch there in the center of my chest. It’s a little strange because the skin doesn’t go all the way to my body like it should, and the implants are very close together. I have a tremendous fear of waking up one morning and discovering the skin has tightened up and made a little bridge between the breasts, creating a uni-boob. I seriously check every morning to make sure everything is still in place…no falling boobies or uni-boobs. So far, so good.
I’ve been fortunate to be able to work for NORRA exclusively for the last few weeks, and this will continue through May. It’s wonderful, because it’s an amazing organization and I’m surrounded by incredible people. And the craziest thing is that here I am, making my childhood dreams come true, and it all started with a lump in my breast. I never would have found NORRA, or started Team Courage, without that awful discovery. I believe there is good in every bad, you just have to look for it sometimes.
I’ve been able to put more time into Team Courage also. I hope to have my truck ready for the Mexican 1000 in May. That is a NORRA event, and I won’t be able to drive it in the event, but I hope to have it there and hope to see it cross the finish line of the 3 day, 1000 mile rally down the Baja peninsula.
The truck, Grace, will be moved next week to it’s new temporary home, a local shop that will be helping prep the truck. I’m excited that it will be close so that I can be a part of the prep work, which I missed so much before our last race. I’m going to Phoenix this weekend to pick up several boxes of spare parts and new body parts. I’m so excited about the body panels, they will Grace some more curves. I totally believe in the joy of big hips, and right now the only flare on the truck is over the front wheels. The new panels will flare in the rear as well, giving the truck her much needed hourglass figure.
I will have enough new panels to save my current hood and sides, and I may try to find a new door, so that I can mount an entire side and hood on my walls for decoration. I want to preserve these pieces because I have changed our logo and our sugar skull will never be seen again.
Our new logo is more feminine and friendly. The truck will be painted black to match the logo. We have a lot of work ahead of us, but I’m hopeful that it will work out. I get to do some of the welding and work on the truck, and in the end we’ll be able to race to make a difference to other women facing breast cancer and breast reconstruction. That is what makes it all worth it and wonderful at the end of the day.
Thank you so much to all of you that stay with me through this experience. I couldn’t have stayed sane without my Breast Friends, making sure I knew I was never alone for a moment. Thank you for all of the emails, the touching stories of each of you make me smile and cry, and even when I’m quiet like I have been, I’m still with you in my heart.