As I dragged my heavy head off the pillow I was welcomed to recovery by a gigantic smile.
“Danielle you’re in recovery, the operation went fine; I just need to take a look at your wounds are you okay with this?”
My head crashed into the pillow, and my eyes were dreary. This was the moment of truth, the moment I had been waiting almost two years for. I made myself stay awake even though it felt so good to shut my eyes and drift off to sleep.
The recovery nurse cleaned her hands and popped back over to my bed. She unbuttoned one of my hospital gown buttons and I was still chilling in a magical world of pixie dust and after effects of anaesthetic fun.
“Oh my gosh he’s done a beautiful job..”
Here it was the moment I had been waiting ever so long for… *cue big, heavy, dramatic music*.
I saw symmetry and I saw two "humps" on my chest.
B - O - O - B - S or, as they can also be called: F - O - O - B - S. (A term popularised by breast cancer patients to mean former, future, or fake boobs. Often used during the various stages of reconstruction after mastectomy.)
It's hard to find the words to describe exactly how I felt seeing my brand new body for the first time. It was as if the world made sense again, and I was finally back on the path to live my life again.
Boobs don't just mean that I'll be a bigger booby gal rockin' bikinis down at the beach this summer. That's just the fun part...
The reality is that I was almost taken from this world a couple of times. My body turned against me when I was diagnosed with breast cancer at 26, and to follow; during chemotherapy I had perforated, gangrenous appendicitis. This operation meant more to me than aesthetics. It meant I would again have my second shot at this thing we call life. I took control of my future, my body and my mind.
If you would have asked me three years ago to remove both of my breasts I probably would've started hyperventilating, blubbering, and then I would've sunk into a stubborn state of ultimate refusal. After almost waiting two years following IVF, mastectomy, chemotherapy, life saving surgery, radiation therapy.
And then it's FINALLY done.
Listen: Jane McGrath's best friend, Tracy Bevan explains how the McGrath Foundation began and the work it does. (post continues after audio...)
From the moment I received the call from my breast cancer specialist, urging me to think about a mastectomy, my self confidence plummeted into a dark hole of confusion. It was July 2015 when the mastectomy happened - the operation that saved my life. For almost two years, I stared at myself in the mirror every morning and saw a healthy breast next to a scar. I'd become frustrated constantly that I couldn't wear the clothes I wore six months prior; I was the T-Shirt gal and I forgot what being sexy actually felt like.
My entire identity had changed. As women, we are gifted with unique and beautiful body shapes. It's no secret that we love clothes; we dress to get that brand new job we had been hoping for, to be noticed by someone we're attracted to, and we dress to make ourselves feel good. For almost two years I was in limbo, what exactly was I dressing for? To hide the caving dint where my breast once sat? Or to dress to show the world I survived...
I was 26 going on 27, and wondering when and how my identity as a sexy woman would return.
I feel somewhat relived, like a big weight has been lifted off my shoulders. During my time in the ward I didn't hesitate to show all family members and friends my new chest. It was as if I was just given a shiny new toy and wanted everyone to see. As pink warriors we all go through times where we ask the universe "Why me?"
Maybe because I am in my late 20's my zest for life is incredible. I don't sit here daily and ask why; I can't and will not let it consume me. Instead, I am determined and I will:
- Live a healthy life
- Love my fiancee with all of my heart
- Love and look after my family
- Love and share experiences with my friends
- Spoil myself with what makes me happy
- Chase the sun around the world
- Stand up for what I believe in
I believe that fighting doesn't mean giving up. Sure, I get incredibly frustrated when I can't get comfortable (these tissue expanders feel like bricks underneath my chest!) I swear, I curse and I scream... but that doesn't mean I will ever give up.
Enduring a seven-hour procedure, having your lat dorsi muscle transferred from your back to your chest, and having two expanders sitting under your skin is plain hard. I can't go to the gym, I can hardly sit up for more than half an hour and I experience waves of horrendous uncomfortable pain.
But I now have two "foobs".
I have two reasons to love and never ever give up on life.