I wanted to share a portion of my journey with you.
I am a cancer survivor.
I have had cancer, I went through all my treatments, chemo – a double mastectomy – radiation.
My journey through cancer has given me many challenges and I have also received a few gifts.
It has taken me awhile to get used to my new “look”.
I have scars on both sides of my chest that are at least 8 inches long. One side is longer because I had emergency surgery.
Recently I have started swimming. I am trying to build up my strength and my energy levels. I had no idea what it would be like to walk into the changing room at the pool for the first time. People stare. They are not mean, they mean no harm, it is a lot to take in if you have never seen what a double mastectomy looks like. The kids stare with such wide eyes not really understanding what they are looking at. The women stare with such a look of shock on their faces.
My first instinct was to run and hide.
My breasts are gone. I nursed my children with them, they were a rite of passage as a young woman. I remember my mom taking me shopping for my first bra. It has been devastating to lose them. What consoles me is the knowledge that when I lost my breasts I also got rid of the cancer. I quickly decided though that I did not fight cancer and win, only to hide from life later.
This is me I have changed. Like the caterpillar into the butterfly, I have transformed.
I will not hide! We all have scars, some are inside, some are outside. It is not about our scars – it is about how we react to them. The scars we carry are from the battles we have fought. They give us character and build our strength. I will not hide!
I am gaining my strength through all of this.
I want to swim to get better and be whole. If you see me in the change room, you can approach me, I will share my story with you. I will help you through your journey if I can. This is one of
This is one of my hardest challenges, the strength and confidence I am gaining is incredible. To the young girls who see me I am sorry they must learn at such an early age why I look different. To the ladies who stare with aghast, thank you. For you are giving me the strength I need to push through the fear, insecurity and pain of my journey.
I can now stand in my own power and be everything I need to be.
I have no limits on who I am or where I am going. I am a warrior. I am sharing this part of my story so you will understand to take whatever life throws at you and let it make you stronger and better.
Learn to feel your power of knowing you have faced down life’s challenges and won. Carry your scars – inside and out with pride. They are the affirmations that you are alive. You won!
I also want to say I have a wonderful support team around me. They encourage me, protect me, and push me to stand tall. Build your team – block out the negative and embrace those who support and lift you up. I now hold my head high as I walk into the change room at the pool.
Practical suggestions for helping a friend with cancer
Do You Want To Tell People About Your Cancer Experience?
Recognising Emotions Associated With Your Friend’s Cancer
Thoughtful Breast Cancer Gifts
Maureen is a cancer survivor. She has experienced chemotherapy, radiotherapy and a double mastectomy.