Who I was last year at this time and who I am today are two very different people.
I’m not the same physically, mentally, emotionally or spiritually – everything has changed.
I had grown to love who I was. The young woman I was before breast cancer was one who had already endured a lot. Prior to being diagnosed, I had just undergone surgery for my elbow (yes elbow of all things).
I had undergone weeks of physical therapy and had been told that I would probably never be able to turn my hand “palm up” again and still I was okay.
Sure, surgery had left scars, but I was okay.
The young woman I was before being diagnosed was one who had dealt with emotional scars.
I had been married, gotten divorced, and became a single parent of two boys. I had packed up my life in North Carolina to move to Louisiana, just to end up back in NC starting all over again.
I had overcome it. It wasn’t easy, but I was okay. The wounds healed, I still loved me.
I realized I was so much stronger than I had previously thought. So many ups and downs, yet I was still able to look myself in the mirror and love who I had become.
In going through breast cancer, I had to learn how to love myself again. It was hard. It was hard to look at myself in the mirror and literally peel my hair from my scalp. I watched my brows and lashes disappear. I watched my weight go up and down.
I looked at deep purple scars from needles and surgeries. It was hard to look at the scars that outlined where the surgeon had removed my breasts. I’m sure I cried more than I had ever cried in my life. I hated looking in the mirror.
Breast cancer robbed me.
To lose my hair, my breasts, and have my doctor “strongly suggest” that I have my ovaries removed just felt like being stripped of my womanhood.
I had to learn how to love myself at my absolute worst. The steroid I was taking with my chemo made my face puffy and swollen. I didn’t like what I saw in the mirror.
I had no desire to look in the mirror. I had no desire to leave the house unless I had to. I couldn’t stand “looking like I had cancer” so I would often sleep in my wig. I refused to take it off because I hated what was underneath.
It was the words of my 10 year old son that helped me.
One day while I was in the bathroom combing my wig trying to curl it for the day, he walked in and said, “Mom why do you even wear those wigs anyway?”
I looked at him confused. “What do you mean? You want me to go to your school with this bald head?”
He looked at me and replied, “Yes. I think you’re beautiful and I don’t care what anyone thinks. If anybody says something just tell them you’re a survivor.” My sweet Jaylen. He helped me snap out of the funk I was in. He forced me to really take a closer look in the mirror.
That day was the last day I wore a wig.
The more I went out without my wig, I felt empowered. I was proud of myself for going without it. My family was proud of me for finally going with it.
I started my day every morning looking in the mirror and speaking to myself.
I am beautiful. I am blessed. I am a blessing. I am happy. I am healthy. I am favored. I am a survivor.
I had to learn how to love myself all over again. I have never loved myself more than I do now, because I fought to become who I am.
I can walk with my head held high because I survived.
I have grown to love my “survivor cut” and my scars don’t bother me, they’re just constant reminders that I survived.
Cancer changed everything. Cancer changed my life. Where I once felt like it was stripping me of everything, it has actually equipped me to carry out the assignment that’s on my life.
I could never go back to being the person I was a year ago and I’m okay with that.
I love who I’ve become.
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