Cancer Lesson #20: Leave Your Modesty at the Door

Cancer Lesson #20: Leave your modesty at the door.

By the time I met my plastic surgeon (and, yes, it still feels weird to be able to use that phrase), I’d realized a lot (and I mean a lot) of people would be looking at (and probably touching) my boobs in the next year or so.

Thus, when Dr. K2 asked if he could take photos to document his work, I unhesitatingly took off my shirt, stood in front of a blue cloth and allowed my breasts to be photographed for posterity. (A little over a year later, we repeated the process for the “after” shots.)

And that was just the beginning. When I was in the hospital after my surgery, it sometimes felt like I was hosting a parade of interns, each of them interested in one thing – my newly reconstructed right breast.

I’m not exaggerating. My breast surgeon had at least two interns checking in on me, and my plastic surgeon had four or five, all making the daily rounds. Plus there were regular checks (hourly at first) by the nursing staff.

So, if you’re beginning breast cancer treatment and possess even a shred of modesty, I’d suggest you leave it at the door.

More recently, my oncologist has mentioned several times how a TRAM reconstruction tends to age more naturally (read: Your TRAM boob will sag just like your non-TRAM one). He mentioned seeing pictures at conferences that demonstrate this.

It crossed my mind that photos of my breasts have probably been displayed at plastic surgery conferences.

I find this kind of funny. Who would have thought I’d be a pinup girl after all these years? And after all my breasts have been through, they deserve a little extra attention, especially if it helps plastic surgeons do an equally good job on someone else in the future.

LBJ

Lyndon Johnson shows his surgery scars. Photo from Briscoe Center for American History (if you can’t read the overlay!)

Cancer Lesson #10: It’s OK to Share Your Story on Social Media

Cancer Lesson #10: It’s okay to share your story on social media (if you want to). 

It’s a surprisingly effective means of sharing the news of your diagnosis and updates about treatment.

God knows, I never thought I’d break such horrible news to most of my friends via Facebook.

I mean, be serious. How freaking impersonal would that be?

Not very impersonal at all, as it turned out.

You see, I didn’t want anyone to think they were being underhanded if they shared my news. My getting cancer didn’t seem to warrant that kind of secrecy, and by broadcasting it on Facebook, I was sent the message that it was okay to tell people who might want to know.

So, after I told my family, my closest friends, and most of my co-workers, I put the news out there on good ole’ FB, and it worked out pretty darned well.

By the time I went into surgery, I think I was on every prayer chain in a two hundred mile radius. I know I had the support of everyone I knew.

Laugh if you will. I know my speedy recovery was due in part to those prayers, healing thoughts and good karma

Soon afterwards, I began blogging about the experience in what eventually became the cancer lessons you’re now reading.

But this type of public sharing isn’t for everyone, and that’s okay too. One thing I learned again and again is cancer is different for everyone.