One Breast Tried to Kill Me, the Other Keeps My Baby Alive
Advocacy A survivor and member of the online community "I Had Cancer" shares her perspective on gratitude and loving yourself as you recover.
As I hold the newest addition to my family, I am bursting with love and contentment. I know I can do at least one thing right: I can make some pretty amazing children.
The right outlook
I am not an outcast because I had cancer — I am still a fully-functional human with many possibilities and I plan to push myself each and every day, until I cannot push any longer.
Despite the challenges, I feel that I have been rewarded. Cancer has given me the greatest miracle there is — a perfect, healthy handsome baby boy. I won't make it seem like it has been easy since having my fifth child; it has been trying, but every second is worth it. I may lose my cool the same as the next mother — it doesn't mean I love them any less. It just means I'm human, a not-so-perfect human.
I have had two years to accept this mutilated body. I'm not saying I am bursting with joy with my new image, but it surely wins against the alternative of dying. There are people who wonder what it looks like to have a mastectomy and there are people who think it's disgusting and never want to see it. I remember having a discussion with someone and they said something along the lines of “that’s gross, I would never want to see it.” I thought to myself, “Well, that's okay; they can’t help the way they feel.”
“There are people who are unaware that someone who had breast cancer and a single mastectomy is able to breastfeed.”
Then I thought about it for a while and I said, “I am deeply offended. This is my body we are talking about and if you think my mastectomy is gross, then you are saying I am gross and that hurts my feelings deeply.” I think in that moment of defending myself, I realized I have nothing to be ashamed of.
There for my children
I had cancer. My breast tried to kill me. Now my other breast is feeding and aiding in the life of another human being. I have a love-hate relationship with my breasts. I hate that they tried to kill me, but I love that I am able to feed my baby.
My children don't care that I only have one breast. They don’t care about the way I look and they don’t care that my chest has scars. What they do care about is the fact that I am alive, the fact that I am able to provide food for them and the fact that they are deeply loved by so many.
Knowing your potential
I have formula fed and I have breastfed, there is something good to be said about both. I feel a very strong connection with my newest little one while breastfeeding. I may have felt unwanted before, but now I am needed more than ever and that brings me great comfort.
There are people who are unaware that someone who had breast cancer and a single mastectomy is able to breastfeed. Life is a miraculous thing. We are capable of so much as humans, if we put our minds to it. So when you are looking at someone who looks different, think twice before you say anything out loud. Think about the struggles that person may have faced and probably still is facing. Try thinking about the positive outcomes instead of focusing on the negative outcomes. We all have feelings, some more sensitive than others. We should just share the love.