Cancer must be quite a teacher. Everywhere I turn, I see articles that say “Cancer taught me …” or “I learned from cancer…” or “If not for cancer, then I…” and I feel that on some level I should be grateful.
(I’m not. I still want it to be June 15 all over again.)
But I will admit that it has changed my life in one important way. How, you ask? Well, it’s a lot easier to clean out my closets.
For instance, when I found a stash of bras today, I threw them out. Large size t-shirts? Gone. Cute tops with revealing necklines that I was just starting to dare to wear? Outta here, baby. All those would reveal now are scars or prostheses. And I’m not too sure about the prosthesis. What’s that all about, anyway? I’m supposed to lug around two lumps of plastic on my chest so that no one feels uncomfortable with the fact that I don’t have breasts anymore?
I had cancer, baby. It … um … left a mark.
I admit I’ve been struggling with this. As spring turns into summer, the hoodies are packed away, and the radiation cream-stained shirts are tossed, I’m looking at my closet differently. Which clothes compliment the new me? The new, slightly daring, slightly wild haircut that I got last week? The need for the focus to be on my face, collars pulling attention up, up, and away from my chest? My mommy-comfort clothes (the cardigans, the hoodies, the cords) don’t seem quite right anymore, but I’m not daring enough yet to match my look to my spiky hair.
It all gets overwhelming sometimes, and then it seems so trivial once again.
I am happy to be here. I am. But I do still squirm when I try on a tank top that reveals the lumps under my arms that appeared after my mastectomy. I sigh longingly at the new swimsuits, knowing that it will never be easy to get a good fit again. (And I laugh, because I always thought it was so hard to find a good swimsuit; I didn’t appreciate the fact then that I had two breasts, no lumps, and no scars to hide.) I shiver in the dressing room as I remove my shirt, as if a stray breeze is chilling my bare chest, and am surprised to catch a glimpse of my scars as I turn away from the mirror.
I am not ashamed of my scars. I am proud of them, for they are the scars of a warrior.
I just wish I knew what to wear to the pool!