Beauty is more than a skinny body, fancy clothes, and makeup. Going through cancer can put your body through harsh treatments and sometimes multiple surgeries. Some lose their hair, some have only the spot where the cancer is removed, and some have both breasts removed. Radiation and chemotherapy are harsh treatments. Going through these treatments and surgeries can make you feel ugly and less like a woman.
When I was given the choice to have a mastectomy, I thought I had to have reconstruction to keep my beauty. I thought I’d be less of a woman without breasts. After the surgery it took me a while to look at my chest or look at myself shirtless in a mirror. I was afraid to see the scars where my breasts used to be. I was afraid I would look ugly and disfigured. When I finally looked at my chest, I cried.
I told my husband, “I’m ugly.”
He looked into my eyes. “You’re still beautiful and always will be.”
I weighed my options for having or not having reconstruction. I wrote out a list of the positives and negatives of both. I listened to others at my breast cancer support group tell about their experiences with reconstruction. In the end it all came down to whether or not I could like myself without breasts or did I need to have them to feel beautiful. It’s a personal choice. My biggest fear was going through multiple surgeries to get new breasts and dealing with complications. I already needed to get a hysterectomy.
I would stand in front of the mirror and ask myself, “Am I any less of a woman without breasts? Is Lou right? Am I still beautiful?”
I had to ask myself, What is beauty?” Is it having big breasts and a perfect body or is it much more? Is it looking good for everyone? Is beauty on the outside or in the inside? Did having scars on my chest make me less beautiful then other women?
When I returned to work, I told a woman about my mastectomy and the breast cancer. She laughed and said, “Now you can be a boy.”
I wanted to yell, “I am still a woman and I am beautiful,” but I didn’t.
In time I realized my scars are what make me beautiful. They are proof of the battle I fought to overcome an awful disease. I don’t need breasts to be beautiful. I may have lost my breasts, but I didn’t lose who I am inside. Beauty radiates within me and outside of me. I’m not ashame of being flat chested and I’m not any less of a woman.
I fought an awful battle and I developed a new perspective of myself and on life. I decided I don’t want to go through any more surgeries. I’m okay with living my life without breasts. I have a wonderful personality and a lovely body. I may have scars, but I am still beautiful. I lost a lot to cancer and the BRCA gene, but I didn’t lose who I am. I may have lost my breasts, my ovaries, uterus, and cervix, but I am still a vibrant woman. I am still a fighter, I’m still kind, and I’m still caring. I am still me.
Beauty isn’t about how perfect your body is or how much hair you have. Beauty is the person you are inside and outside. Your scars and loss of hair only make you look even more gorgeous. They are signs of the battle you fought and the strength you had to fight it. Beauty is your personality and the love you have burning within your heart. No person is ugly.
Whether you decide to go with reconstruction or not, you are beautiful. God doesn’t make anyone ugly. The important thing is accepting yourself and opening your eyes to your beauty. You have to feel comfortable with yourself and love yourself. It might take time to find acceptance, but you will find it. Whatever cancer takes from you, the one thing it can’t take is your beauty.
I am happy with myself as I am. I’m proud to be a woman without breasts. I am still a beautiful woman. I stand in the light of strength and the Lord’s miracles.