My Point of Heu
April marked one year since my mastectomy... it also was a painful reminder that one year prior to that my mother lost her fight against metastatic breast cancer. Since "going public" with my story last July, I have heard the words brave, inspiring and courageous. I never thought these words would resonate with others, based simply on the fact that I was sharing my breast cancer prevention story and journey; essentially just doing what I think was the best decision for me and prolonging my life. Granted, as I continue to move forward and (hopefully) encourage both men and women to be proactive about their health and self care... some may learn something, be more aware and make conscious decisions to improve their quality of life.
Moving forward... I have encountered some really amazing people and women along this journey. Engaging with other "previvors" and hearing their stories of survival have been very rewarding and encouraging. At first, I thought I was somewhat unique and perhaps unlike anyone else out there. Then as I realized I wasn't alone it was comforting to know there were so many other women just like me.
As I prepared for my journey, I spoke with many mastectomy survivors, most of whom actually had cancer. It was rare to find someone who had done what I did prophylactic-wise. And it was also hard to find others who had the surgery and just opted to go flat without any reconstruction... fast forward and I have started to notice this "Angelina Jolie Effect" as some might call it is starting to make me feel uncomfortable.
I started following the #previvor hashtag on Instagram so I could see other courageous women similar to me around the world... there are a few that I respect and share similar stories. But each day I am reminded of these women who appear to be desperate for attention, tactless and some not even aware with the cause and just selfish. There is something going around now (as we prepare for breast cancer awareness month) called "Pinkwashing" aimed at corporate, businesses and other types of organizations that falsely showcase support of breast cancer awareness in an effort to gain attention and make a profit. Most of the time these types of pinkwashing examples are made by companies attempting to sell products to raise money for breast cancer research, when in fact they are just pocketing the cash. In general I also feel people use pinkwashing techniques to jump on the awareness bandwagon to falsely gain gratification and attention for something that makes them feel liked and popular.
Many women are posting multiple images of themselves going into surgery with tubes in and out of the body, shots in their hospital bed and staged imagery to showcase the night before or the day of surgery posts. Seriously, when I was in the hospital prepping for a major surgery I was not on my phone taking photos. My husband was with me hoping I would come out safe and wake up ok. We were not consumed with trying to showcase how dramatic the entire process was. Honestly, it was scary and I was so nervous! I do recall taking one photo the day afterwards in my recovery room with a bouquet of flowers that a friend sent to me (who lives hundreds of miles away). I simply wanted to share the photo so she could see I appreciated it.
Anyhow, I un-followed this hashtag as I see so many women who appear to be frantic, frivolous, fame-seeking and attention-seeking for all the wrong reasons. Instead I would rather be inspired, moved, motivated and informed.
These impressions from all these women has really changed my perspective on others motivations. I have had many chats online with desperate women seeking to have this surgery immediately. Most of whom don't have a clear reason to have it. If your uncle had prostate cancer, your aunt had lung cancer or your cousin had a brain tumor -- that doesn't mean you need to run out and get a mastectomy.
Talk to your doctor, assess the risk, decipher the percentage rate of chance that you could get breast cancer, have you been on a high detection plan, what have you done to bring down the risk and have you done generic testing? Additionally, ways to reduce the likelihood of cancer in your lifetime are: healthy diet, keeping your weight down, exercising regularly, feeling happy consistently, body awareness, mammograms, regular visits to the doctor, getting adequate sleep and consuming the right nutrition for your body (i.e. not eating fast food, preservatives, chemicals, candy and etc).
My main goal was to save my life, live a long life with my husband, be happy and encourage others to do the same. I refrain from making all my posts about my surgery because there really isn't anything else to say. It's done, I am healed and I don't regret it. I will continue to keep doing what I am doing and don't have any selfish reasons behind it. This is my life as I choose to live it and I hope that if I inspired or educated someone along the way, then that was all worth it.