A picture is worth a thousand words…..that’s how the saying goes.
Sometimes the picture isn’t exactly what we imagine, or how we hoped. My super sister Elle has had a big year and her journey hasn’t played out as she imagined, nor how she deserved. You might remember from my earlier blog, Elle had her own prophylactic bilateral mastectomy earlier this year and she did it tough!
If a picture is worth a thousand words, this picture says it all……
OUCH! Elle had trouble with one of her flaps, which despite all efforts, all prayers, all hopes, wishes and desires, didn’t recover and eventually the infection took over. With multiple surgeries and skin grafts, Elle eventually lost half of her reconstructed breast.
Elle is brave and beautiful and when I asked her to share a photo of her breast today, she sent me this image….
Elle shared this picture and I think it was actually the very first time she has taken a photo since it healed. It made her teary, it evoked emotion and I am incredibly proud that Elle has allowed me to share it here today. Elle has been recovering well, taking care of her body, getting back into the swing of life and showing incredible bravery along the way.
For the strangers who follow the page, the blog or stumble across it accidentally, I remind you that we share very openly and honestly here. If the images are offensive or disturbing in any way, we don’t apologise, we don’t pretty them up, we don’t beautify reality and we share to support other women and men travelling along a similar path. This is what Elle looks like today…..
Elle is brave and beautiful! Most importantly, Elle has gone from being 85% likely to be diagnosed with breast cancer in her lifetime, to probably never EVER needing to consider that diagnosis. I remember my doctor sharing with me that I’m around 1% likely to be diagnosed since my prophylactic bilateral mastectomy, which are stats that our family absolutely LOVE.
Tomorrow Elle goes back in hospital and is undergoing surgery to reconstruct her missing breast. The medical team will insert an implant to round out Elle’s previously reconstructed breast, which was originally made using the fat and muscle from her abdomen. I am writing this blog to remind Elle how truly awesome, brave and beautiful she is!!!
I borrowed this awesome quote from our gorgeous cousin Jodie who recently shared it.
It’s another major surgery tomorrow for Elle and we are all sending love and hugs her way. Coincidentally, another friend of mine is undergoing her own reconstruction tomorrow too, having had both breasts removed earlier this year due to a cancer diagnosis.
Regardless of what their reconstructions look like, they are both brave and beautiful inside and out and I wish them a speedy recovery and can’t wait to hug them both again.
Those that know me best are well aware of my love for customer service. To give it, to receive it, to live it and breathe it, it is my passion, what drives me and recently I have learnt that customer service is my ‘Native Genius’.
I absolutely love customer service, I seek it out, I am loyal to those that give it and while incredibly rare these days, I am truly blown away when I receive it.
Well do I have a story for you!!!
My friend Jess, the same friend who took the beautiful ‘before’ images of me prior to my bilateral mastectomy (you can read her beautiful blog here), recently showed off a pair of new lululemon workout pants at the gym. They looked amazing on her and she said that they were the most comfortable pants she’s ever trained in. I have to admit, I have never owned any lululemon items, so when Jess spoke so highly of these new tights, I thought I’d better check them out.
So on the eve of Mother’s Day, off I went to the lululemon James St store, I had already justified to myself that I could spend some money guilt free as a Mother’s Day gift to myself. Afterall, I wear gym tights EVERY day, sometimes I even wear two pairs in a day.
When I walked into the lululemon store in James St, I was immediately a little surprised to be welcomed by a man. It was relatively quiet, with about 45 mins until close for the day. He introduced himself to me, Cam was his name and Cam then directed me towards the pants that Jess owned. A big thank you to Jess for the picture she sent me of the tag from her pants.
Cam and I discussed colours, he showed me the various options and I explained to Cam that I prefer darker colours to avoid that ‘crotch sweat patch’. I’m a sweater, a big sweater, I sweat as much as most men do and while it’s not something that bothers me, I am conscious of the fact that I look like I have pee’d my pants when I train. I was really testing his customer service!!
I’m certain that by this stage Cam must have thought that I was amongst his most ‘weird’ customers. I mean seriously, why would a customer talk openly about crotch sweat? What had Cam got himself into? We picked out a few tops to try on with the pants and Cam directed me to the change rooms. I loved the fact that my name was written on the whiteboard on the change room door and I proceeded to try on the pants, along with a few tops to match. I spent a bit of time mulling over the options and I was instantly in love with the pants. What a great recommendation from Jess, I was SOLD!!
I went in and out of a change room a few more times, trying on a couple more colours in the pants I loved and I had already justified to myself that I was going to buy two pairs. I sought out a top to match, and once again Cam offered his expertise and advice on some of the lululemon options. Cam pointed out a few sheer tops, the ones which would normally be perfect for high sweaters, they’re light and designed perfectly for people like me. The only problem for me is the ‘sheer’ thing! You see, I explained to Cam that I couldn’t wear sheer tops due to my recent bilateral mastectomy, I typically don’t wear crop tops when I train and therefore I need to make sure that the tops I wear aren’t see-through. Poor Cam, he must now be thinking that I am some kind of nutter!!
By now I had tried on a few tops, decided 100% on the black pants and then tossed up in my mind as to whether I would buy the grey or navy pants as my second option. I looked at the clock, it was closing time and I was undecided. So I went to the counter, explained to Cam that I wasn’t yet decided on the second pair and that I’d be taking the black pair today. I was definitely going to come back another time to choose my second colour and I would also grab myself a top at the same time. I had enjoyed my very first lululemon experience and looking forward to returning.
Cam continued to engage in conversation with me and casually asked me which of the two colours (navy or grey) was I most leaning towards. It was a great question and made me think about it, as I explained to Cam that I think I’d go for the grey ones to step outside of my navy and black comfort zone. Cam was engaging and his customer service had me looking forward to returning again. I love their slogans on the bags, I love their customer service, I love their comfortable clothing and I wear training gear more than I do regular clothes – so it’s easy to justify a return visit.
He excused himself and stepped away for a few moments, returning with the grey pants from my messy change room floor. He then said to me “this is what I love about my job, I get to give you these pants”. What? I must have stood there in shock for a few moments, before saying “SERIOUSLY, you’re going to GIVE me the pants?”. The look on Cam’s face said it all!! He ripped the tag off the grey pants and he explained that this is his favourite part of working for lululemon. He was GIVING me the extra pair of pants as a gift.
I was blown away! Speechless! Shocked! I said “NO WAY, are you for real?”
He was for real and Cam was as happy giving me the pants as I was to receive them. I couldn’t believe it!! WOW! Before I was the lucky recipient of Cam’s random act of kindness, I was already a new loyal lululemon customer, but after receiving his outstanding customer service, Cam has guaranteed it for life.
In life there are many kinds of people, there are those that go quietly about their business, inspiring people from behind the scenes, then there’s those who prefer to shout it from the rooftop. The world has a place for all of us, we’re all unique with our own style and my style is definitely to ensure everyone I know (and even those I don’t know) is made aware of this amazing “Raving Fans” customer service experience.
Life’s too short to not celebrate moments like this. I am celebrating by wearing my new lululemon pants today, despite the fact that I don’t plan to go out and train. I am wearing them in honour of Cam in the lululemon James St store and I am excited to share this amazing and outstanding experience with as many people as I can.
One thing is for sure, I’ll be back to buy myself some more lululemon clothes, I plan to spend some more time in store next time and I’ll be sharing my customer service WOW experience many times over for decades to come. I even managed a selfie with Cam before I left – he was simply AMAZING!!
WOW, WOW, WOWEE!! I still can’t believe I was the lucky recipient of a random act of kindness, receiving a pair of lululemon pants for FREE from a complete stranger. It was unexpected, totally out of the blue and literally the most amazing customer service experience I have ever had in my life.
It’s been a while since I have written a new blog post and if I’m to be completely honest, I’ve been a little scared. Scared and scarred both in about equal amounts. I’ll elaborate more on that at another time.
Most importantly, I’m writing again because tomorrow is the day one of my younger sisters is undergoing her prophylactic bilateral mastectomy. Elle (a truly Super Sister) is 18 months younger than me, she’s a brilliant mother, a wife to Ben (they are childhood sweethearts) and she’s been a loyal follower of this blog since it started in January last year. I owe it to Elle to start writing again, especially given she is one of the BIG reasons behind me starting it all in the first place. Elle is the super cute blonde one on the right in this photo…..
As her older sister, I always wanted to ‘be there’ for Elle, so I’m hoping that in some small way, sharing my blog has helped Elle reach this day – the eve of her own surgery. I know she loves this photo of us all dressed the same, they were our most favourite dresses. Elle (the middle sister) is in the middle below….
Elle has always going out of her way for anyone and everyone! She is the sort of person who would give away her last dollar or her last meal, Elle is the first to put up her hand if you need something and she is forever helping other busy parents when they need a helping hand. Tomorrow is a BIG day for Elle and I’m excited for her to finally be here.
Elle doesn’t know I’m writing this blog tonight about her, so I won’t share anything too personal without her permission. One thing I will share is how proud I am of Elle. You see, Elle bravely stripped off for me a year ago to reveal her breasts in a family portrait style photo I posted in an earlier blog. I had this crazy idea to help me when I was nervous about posting my own breasts on the blog and I somehow managed to convince all of the girls in the family to share a photo of their breasts with me for the family portrait. Check the photo out below…..
Statistically, 5 or 6 of the 7 women pictured here are likely to be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime. With my breasts gone and Elle’s about to go, we are both beating the odds and cheating an almost certain future breast cancer diagnosis.
Tomorrow as Elle undergoes her 8+ hour surgery, we will all be thinking about her and hoping for a smooth and trouble free process. Elle’s surgery is more complicated than mine, with her having the TRAM Flap procedure. The TRAM Flap, or Transverse Rectus Abdominous Myocutaneous flap: is a type of reconstructive surgery where fat and muscle from the abdomen are used to recreate breast tissue.
The main advantages of a TRAM flap include:
One-stage reconstruction to re-create the breast to its full volume
Utilises your own natural tissues
Permanent and long lasting reconstruction – does not require change or replacement compared to implants
Looks and feels natural
Moves and age with your body
Provides best symmetry with a natural breast on the other side
Although the operating time and recovery period is longer than my original surgery, it is a one-stage reconstruction that gives an instant permanent result with your own natural tissue.
I’ll be thinking of Elle tonight and all day tomorrow and sending her all the pain-free vibes I can muster.
She’s an amazing woman and deserves a trouble free, pain free speedy recovery. We all love you to the moon and back Elle, can’t wait to support you through your journey. xxxx