Breast cancer, Chronic Illness, Chronic Pain

Naked Thoughts After a Mastectomy

A mastectomy made me want to take my clothes off. Why?

I sent to a comment to a photographer:  If you ever want to take some pictures of a breastless chest and scars, and a body that has atrophied, hit me up. 🤔 Seriously. 50 year old bodies still have life in them. 😁

The photographer’s response: I cannot tell you how much of an honor that would be. Just having the opportunity to meet you would be amazing. I’m for real. You and (your daughter) should come to the studio.

I did not expect such an invitation. His work was filled with younger people and professional models. You see, the photographer had become a ‘friend’ of mine on Facebook recently because my adult daughter is a model. She and her father are very photogenic. The photographer purposefully reached out to me to let me know what a professional pleasure it was to work with someone of her personality, abilities and professionalism. He couldn’t say enough kind words about her. As a mom, it is a high feeling to have strangers go out of their way to say how much they respect and appreciate my daughter as an admirable human being.

I liked his approach, so I kept following his work. Creativity. Expression. Humanity. However, I had not seen a subject of his work that had been middle-aged or older, like me. Definitely not a woman with a flat chest.

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‘Practicing’ to be photographed.

The idea of being nude in front of a camera made me absolutely cringe before breast cancer, when I still had breasts. Back in college, I briefly contemplated posing nude for an art class in college for some extra bucks, but when I imagined how much I would shiver and be unable to sit still in a cold Wisconsin classroom the idea quickly came and went. Years later, after I became ill with migraines, chronic fatigue and fibromyalgia, I allowed myself to feel increasingly resentful toward my body.

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Full disclosure: I am 48, not 50; not that it ought to matter…

Now that I have undergone chemotherapy, had a bilateral mastectomy, and radiation treatment and immunotherapy for breast cancer, I am no longer ashamed of my “chest region”. Now I plan to visit Minneapolis, Minnesota for a two hour session with a photographer to take nude, artistic photos to show the vulnerability and strength of my body and myself. Living up to the stereotype of being bipolar, I have always been possessed by the raw emotion that nature and art bring out of me. Art is an emotional and intellectual science. I am excited to find out this photographer’s vision.

Most nude pictures, drawn or photographed, are predominantly of young, toned and ultimately attractive people. I want to see people of all ages and backgrounds and give respect to the containers we carry our souls in. Via Facebook, I challenged the photographer to use me, a 48 year old woman, deconditioned from a year of cancer therapy and a double mastectomy, as an instrument in his photography. I had thought the chances would be slim, but that he may take the bait. He happily did so. Here’s hoping he doesn’t regret it.  Really all I have to lose is but a tank of gas.

Is it more or less acceptable for someone who has undergone a bilateral mastectomy to be shown nude? If I now went outside topless, would it still be indecent? Offensive? I am hoping to gain some insight from this upcoming experience. I am hoping to learn to be inspired by and accepting of my body for the way it’s made. I am working on it.

Life, it’s chronic.

Chronic Illness

Temporarily Chronic: Breast Cancer

7A7094D3-0A29-40F7-8853-6D318B1BF7B2.jpegThis photo is from about six months ago. So, I haven’t blogged about my experience with breast cancer, because I hope for it to be a temporary problem, not a chronic one. But, as I say, life IS chronic.

It has been thirteen months since I started treatment. I have to humbly say that I have been the epitome of grace under this pressure. At least I think so. I think people were possibly more concerned about me being so jolly about the treatment than they were about the cancer, although no one has told me that. If I were my friends and family, I would think that either I was being a very good actress with a professional performance or else I was going out of my mind! I mean, who glows in excitement about how great the cancer treatment process is?

Who enters cancer treatment being all smiley and like “Yay!” Well, let us see… I do! I do because I couldn’t be more relieved than to have the chance to save my life and to have the consciousness to watch it all happen. I was walking around with breast cancer and I did not own it. I did not plan on keeping it, so why own it? It did not tie me down, much less knock me down. I mean, I could get out of bed every day and be ever more grateful for another day and hopeful for tomorrow. What a gift.

People are very kind to cancer patients. Duh, right?! Well, I have had my series of chronic health problems and problems like so many of us, but I seriously have never been treated better by so many people that I know and even more people that I don’t know. How comforting is that! It is everything that makes life worth living for. Kindness.

I will come back again and write more about this chronic part of my life.  “Live it!”, says Wendy!

Life, it’s chronic.