My husband says I need to be more confident about my body. He tells me that I am beautiful. I am lucky I know, because he really feels that way. He doesn’t understand my uncertainty at all.
I have always struggled with body image. I have always exercised, and eaten fairly well. There have been times of high weight, but my 5 foot 8 inch frame has always held it well. The last few months have been a bit of a roller coaster though.
Anxiety medication worked to keep the heart palpiations and the panic attacks under control, but it couldn’t give me back my appetite. I was down 30 pounds before the mastectomy. Now, 11 weeks later there are days when I forget. I forget the breast cancer that hid from the tests, the mastectomy that was supposed to be prophylactic, and the silicone that now lives under my numb skin. I forget – until I look. Then I see the huge scars, and the slightly uneven implants – not a surgeon’s error, but rather the error of 7 biopsies slowly removing the skin on one side over 14 years time and my refusal to endure tissue expanders and all their extra risks. I see… I feel…
Now I am home recovering from the complete hysterectomy. Another huge cancer risk removed from my list, but as I await the final pathology the reality that all my “girl” parts are gone – sometimes hits home, and it ouches a bit. What will instant menopause be like? I am not even 40, but I am sure I will know soon enough… Will my thyroid go totally nuts -again? Will I gain back every pound I lost? What will happen to my metabolism, my body?
And what about all these screenings still to do? There is already a harmatoma on my spleen, and a huge gallstone. That is before we have checked the skin, the kidneys, the colon.
I have to focus. I am not Cowden’s Syndrome. I am only a patient who suffers from it. I am still me. Neurotic, loving, caring – me. I will not let this disease define me, or my family. If I do that, it wins.
So maybe today I will look in the mirror. I will try to see the me that my husband sees. I will continue to recover, again. I will think about tomorrow when the sun will shine. I will emerge from this – better, stronger, more confident, and more beautiful. If I let it happen. I am not defined by the sum of my parts or by any disease. I am defined by my soul….