So, for those of you who don’t know, I woke last weekend to my personal Facebook page being temporarily suspended.
As it turns out, someone reported the photo of my new party trick. If you missed it, it’s this one with magnets on my skin.
I guess at first glance, it’s officially nudity, however this is my body and I have a completely different view on it. The questions I asked myself before I posted the blog article were:
Is it even a breast?
There’s no nipple, so it’s just skin.
The mound isn’t breast tissue, it’s a tissue expander under my peck muscle.
The magnets at first glance may appear to look like nipples, but they’re NOT!
This lead me to believe that it wasn’t violating any Facebook rules, this is NOT nudity. I even checked Facebook officially to confirm and here’s what I found….
I immediately reactivated my Facebook account and managed to get the blog re-posted and shared, with an additional comment from myself this time. This was the post I shared on my personal page….
Clearly I wasn’t happy, however I did manage to compose myself enough so that I didn’t fly completely off the handle. Initially I thought I was angry, but to be honest, I wasn’t. I’m not really that kind of person, I don’t usually let other people bother me, so I just took it in my stride and enjoyed reading the scores of comments from friends and family supporting me.
On the same weekend, there was an article shared on the Daily Mail Australia. This one does contain very mild nudity, but because it didn’t appear as an image on my post, it was allowed to slip through. The images were taken as part of the Under the Red Dress project, where I posed pre and post surgery to support the raising of awareness of breast screening and body image. Check out the ‘before’ photo….
I’m the first to admit that I don’t look like this at all in my every day life. As I said to our girls, “isn’t it amazing what you can do with loads of makeup and a fantastic photographer with Photoshop talent?”. Once I explained Photoshop to Miss 7 and Miss 6, they really got it!
They both commented that I didn’t look like me, that I looked like a Supermodel and that I had too much makeup on. How very right they were!
When I showed them the contrasting image, they were immediately at ease, more comfortable with what they saw and Miss 7 even commented on how nice my undies were. Clearly I got my best undies out for the shoot!!
I find it all very normal to look at my body in this way. It is what it is and I can’t change it and nor do I want to change it.
When I looked back on the images where my ‘original’ breasts are on display, I don’t feel any sense of loss, sadness or negativity of any kind. Instead, I look at these images now and am grateful for making the decision I made.
One of my friends even told me that I had really great breasts, which came as a nice little surprise, I always thought they were little flap jacks after children! I still remember the first time I was sharing a picture of my breasts in the family collage before surgery. You might remember it from the ‘It’s breast selfie time’ blog I posted before surgery. My family were so wonderfully supportive in sharing their breasts in a collage.
Our girls and I talked about the Under the Red Dress photo’s at length and I am really pleased to have achieved exactly what I had hoped for with my involvement in the project. You see, I set out to ‘show’ our girls that anyone can look like a Supermodel. Thankfully our girls don’t buy glossy magazines, they don’t have strong external influences over beauty and they don’t follow celebrities either.
In being involved in a project with this particular message, do you think I’ve now planted a seed in the minds of our girls to think twice next time there’s pressure on them to look a certain way?
My image proves that absolutely ANYONE can look like a magazine cover!! Now let’s hope that the images in this blog post don’t cause my account to be suspended.
Happy 3 month Prophylactic Bilateral Mastectomy Day to me!! I celebrated with a new party trick……do you want to see it? Although I’m not sure how popular I’d be showing my new party trick off literally at a party!!!
I decided to test out the magnets inside the tissue expanders, here’s what it looked like…….
I know it’s ridiculous right? Firstly what on earth was I thinking? Secondly, who shares an image like that?
Well, if you’ve been reading my blogs for a while now, you would know that I typically don’t leave anything out when it comes to sharing my prophylactic bilateral mastectomy journey. I’d rather be open, honest and real, as opposed to hiding behind closed doors and having people wonder! I did warn you all in my original blog post all those months ago when I said “I’m not for everyone”.
You might remember me sharing an earlier blog about the tissue expansion process. It’s linked in this blog if you haven’t read it.
For 3 months now I’ve had tissue expanders inside my body and I’m now at the size I’ll end up being once my reconstruction takes place. Tissue expanders have magnets in them to assist with locating to point to insert the syringe full of fluid. Naturally, if the syringe is just poked in anywhere, there’s a risk it will pierce the expander, leaving a slow leak in the foob.
I have always been curious about whether the magnets would work through skin, so of course I decided to test it (as you do). While it wasn’t a strong magnetic connection, it did exist and it was strong enough to hold the two magnets into place. The tissue expanders are beneath my peck muscle, which probably explains why the magnetic connection was weak, I do recall the Dr telling me my peck muscles were very strong!
So I met with my Doctor today and we have now booked the reconstruction in. Thursday 11 September 2014 (no Twin Towers jokes please) is the day and while I would have ideally liked it all done and dusted immediately, the reality is that I need to ride my bike from Brisbane to Townsville in less than 14 weeks from now, so it’s no time for surgery, it’s time to bloody train!!
You’re riding to Townsville from Brisbane you ask? Yes, I am!! Crazy I know, but I’m really most excited about the community visits and the lifelong relationships formed between all of the riders along the way. Oh yeah and we need to ride 1600km’s in 8 days!! You can read more about it on the official Bottlemart Smiling for Smiddy Challenge page.
8 days, 1600km’s, this isn’t going to be a walk in the park, it will potentially challenge me more than the surgery has. Check out the schedule:
Day 1 – Brisbane-Nanango, 205km
Day 2 – Nanango-Eidsvold, 242km
Day 3 – Eidsvold-Biloela,175km
Day 4 –Biloela-Blackwater, 240km
Day 5 – Blackwater-Clermont,192km
Day 6 – Clermont-Belyando Crossing, 178km
Day 7 – Belyando Crossing-Charters Towers, 198km
Day 8 – Charters Towers-Townsville, 164km
The Dr has been aware of this ride since the first day we met and she’s always been supportive of my desire to do it. So when we chatted today, there were a few good points made as to why waiting to reconstruct ‘post ride’ is a good idea:
Recovery is going perfectly
Strength and training have resumed to almost pre-surgery levels
Body is fit and strong (I liked the Dr telling me this one)
Tissue expander Foobs are tougher – which translates to them being better for me if I happen to fall off my bike
Tissue expander Foobs are disposable – if they break, we throw them out.
Training time limitations if we operate again now – a few weeks off isn’t desirable mentally of physically
We both agree that waiting until after the ride is best.
So now it’s time to get the roadie bike out to do some serious time in the saddle. My foobs are all healed and safely in place for now, so of course it’s time mess up another part of the female anatomy.
Which reminds me, I’d better place a bulk order for chamois cream in preparation for some mega time in the saddle.
My poor husband! Firstly I remove my breasts, which I’ve since been told were ‘great breasts’ by quite a few friends and followers – and I still blushed even though they’re gone!! Now I’m just about to spend 14 weeks with my vagina planted hard on a seat in preparation for this ride.
There won’t be any blog post images on the journey of my ‘saddle’ I promise, but if you’re curious, you could always Google ‘saddle sores’. To save you the trouble, just imagine that my nether regions, along with 49 others in September this year will look a little like this….
It’s been 10 weeks now since by Prophylactic Bilateral Mastectomy and about time I provided an update on how things are progressing in my life after surgery.
In all honesty, things are getting back to my pre-surgery routine and I must admit that most days I completely forget that I’ve even been through the procedure. Don’t get me wrong, when you see me naked, it’s clear what I’ve been through, but in reality there are not a lot of people who see me naked!
When I am naked, such as in the cropped image below, I really don’t feel ashamed, embarrassed or different to any other woman of any shape, size or colour. Previously, if I was to look at this picture of my body when I had breasts and nipples (and I won’t post that image here in the public domain), I’d probably have started to pick on my ‘abnormalities’, you know the things that don’t meet up to the ‘standards’ thrust upon us in the media.
Right now when I look at this image, I just see ‘normal’.
When I undress daily, I no longer notice the scars and I certainly don’t see the foobs any differently to how I saw my breasts before they were removed. Yes they’re hard, they are at times uncomfortable and they definitely don’t function in the same way as my boobs once did, but they are just ‘normal’ to me now.
I’ve been out and about more too, including a several engagement parties, a dual 50th birthday, a twins 40th and whether it was in or out of the moon boot, I’ve had fun and enjoyed reconnecting with my beautifully supportive friends and family.
Some conversations and catch ups have seen the foob topic discussed, and I have often found myself coming back to one similar point in all of the discussions. Life after surgery is ‘normal’ again. While I don’t want to take away from the enormity of what’s involved in a prophylactic bilateral mastectomy, nor do I want to dilute the procedure itself, I am just keeping calm and carrying on. I underwent major surgery, it’s invasive and not without serious risk, however if I’m to be truly honest with you and with myself, my personal experience hasn’t really been ‘that big a deal’.
I love that my friends feel comfortable asking me questions, it’s one of the reasons I wanted to do this blog in the first place. One of my main motivators was the fact that I didn’t want people to be ‘weird’ around me after the process was all done and dusted. Some of my friends look at my foobs, some ask to see them, some even touch them (which I’m perfectly fine with) and some don’t even notice anything different at all. I’m certain that a large proportion of my friends don’t even have time to read my blog, so a lot of people I see regularly probably have no idea of the journey I’ve been on and I actually love that too.
Our little family is just carrying on with life and none of us really even notice it much these days.
I look back on the blog to remind myself of what I have been through and it honestly feels like a lifetime ago. Some of he most popular posts in the blog process have surprised me, with by far the most read article being the blog written by a good friend of mine. It’s titled ‘You’re removing your boobs? A Man’s Perspective..’. It’s truly a special post, and I think that I love it most because it helps me see it from someone else’s perspective.
Another popular post was definitely the one I shared with our girls in it called ‘Their Perspective’. The innocence of their understanding of the journey, their honesty, their faces – it all melts my heart and I’m so grateful that my husband talked me into writing the blog in the first place. I think we have the most amazing girls in the whole wide world!!
We all celebrated a special milestone late last month, which was the very important event of it being our 15 year wedding anniversary. In our family, we have a little tradition where we make personal cards for one another, and I share with you the amazingly thoughtful card I woke to on our special anniversary morning.
We went out to dinner as a family, enjoyed company with each other and even snapped up a little couple selfie, including the ‘forks’ in the background thanks to our cheeky eldest daughter.
I know how lucky I am to have this guy in my life, he’s been an absolute dream when it comes to supporting what I’ve done.
The next step in this process is my scheduled visit with the Doctor later this month. We will look at how the foobs have coped with the expansion and a decision will be made as to when the reconstruction will take place.
Until then, I’ll continue to train daily, keep busy, work hard and get on with life. I’m so very grateful to have you come along for the journey, thank you.
Let’s get one thing straight before I start on the body image topic……….
I’m not perfectly toned, nor am I fabulously fit. I have dimples and pimples, jiggly and wobbly bits. I have ‘bingo arms’ when I wave my hands wildly to attract the attention of our girls in crowds and my cycle legs are so thick at the top that I they rub together when I swim. I even do my swimming laps in a tri suit rather than my ‘speedo’ one piece, just so I can avoid red welts on my inner thighs as I kick.
My thighs seem to cleverly store any excess body fat and I’ve always complained about it.
There’s actually a story I share with friends every now and then involving my adoring husband. You see, we have an ‘honesty policy’ in place and so it never bothered me when he said to me one day……
“F*!k your thighs are meaty!”
That’s right, you didn’t read it wrong, my fantastic husband of 15 years said those exact 5 words to me.
I didn’t have a comeback, he’s right, I have meaty thighs so how can I argue with that? I certainly don’t have the much coveted thigh gap, in fact until recently, I never even knew what a thigh gap was.
As I was writing this article, I couldn’t believe the timing when I found a link to a page that Olympic Gold Medalist Anna Meares commented on. Anna’s renowned for her leg strength and let’s just be bold and put it out there…..Anna’s the Queen of ‘meaty thighs’.
I also have stretch marks and moles, way too much hair in some places and if you’ve ever seen my feet, especially after racing in a triathlon, you would be excused for wanting to run away! And finally, despite our children rating my abs as the ‘best in the house’, I definitely don’t have abs of steel!
Why am I even telling you this?
Well it’s strange……..
Ever since my prophylactic bilateral mastectomy, I am suddenly less concerned about how my body might appear with all of its imperfections. In some strange way, I am now very accepting of my dimples, the thighs, the excessive number of moles, the bits that in the past might have bothered me, and while I don’t necessarily love them, they are what they are and they’re a part of what makes me, me.
I realise in reflection as my foobs settle into my body, that it doesn’t really matter what it all looks like on the surface. It’s just a facade, much like the exterior of a house and it’s meant to deteriorate with time.
I know, I know, didn’t I know this already? I’m 38 for goodness sake, I should know better! I do know better! Yes, I’ve hear it all before….
“Beauty is only skin deep”
“It’s what’s on the inside that counts”
“Don’t judge a book by its cover”
I support and agree with these statements and I even use them with our own girls.
You see, regardless of what I’ve been told and regardless of what I think I believe, I still admit to falling victim to thinking I need to live up to the unattainable images of beauty thrust upon us on a daily basis.
It’s hard to avoid and I’m feeling like it’s time I put my 2 cents in.
In the past I’ve been critical of myself, critical of these little things about my body which I haven’t liked. I think as women we are often caught up in worrying about measuring up to some sort of ‘unrealistic’ expectation that we have in our own minds of what we ‘should’ look like. We don’t ever seem to celebrate the great things about ourselves, it’s very taboo to say something like ‘gee I really like my awesome looking arms’, or ‘wow, don’t my legs look great in these jeans?’. We aren’t even OK really with other people paying us these compliments either. How many times have you fobbed off a compliment from a friend or stranger? On the other hand, how many times have you accepted and truly believed something nice someone had to say about your appearance?
That unattainable and unrealistic beauty is so bloody prominent in the media, it’s photoshopped, perfected, primped and primed and even when we are meant to celebrate a ‘fat’ celebrity like Jennifer Lawrence, we’re living in fairyland people, J-Law is NOT fat.
I Googled her measurements just to see what people consider ‘fat’ out there. Can you believe that she’s just 63kg? 63kg is FAR FROM FAT!!! This is probably an older weight too, because I’d be very surprised if she’s over 60kg’s these days, she’s looking much thinner than this previous image of her.
Has she too succumbed to the pressure of Hollywood and media?
Regardless of what she’s done, the reality is that media loves perfection. That image of unattainable beauty.
Celebrate Cellulite I say! Why are we so ashamed of it? If you don’t believe that we are, then why are there magazines out there publishing articles and images like this?
Why on earth does it matter if Lara Bingle has cellulite? And is it such a bad thing if she does? I loved her Instagram response to the image! She said “This image is perpetuating self doubt in all women in the name of making a quick buck.” Now I’m not a fan or follower of Lara Bingle, so I’m not getting on my high horse to defend her. What I am though is a women with cellulite, who’s pissed off that the media makes it out to be some sort of biological disease.
It’s just cellulite and society makes women feel inferior, imperfect and completely inadequate if we have it.
What about this image of Scarlett Johansson? Is it such a problem that she has some dimples in the back of her legs? In fact, if I had a picture of my body in a bikini, it would probably look a lot like this one from the rear…..
Just for the record, I also Google’d Scarlett’s measurements and we are freakishly similar in height, weight and overall body dimensions. Sad thing is that of all the photo’s in our family collection, there’s absolutely NO WAY I would have ever allowed one to be taken of me on this angle. This in itself is ridiculous!
I just might have to get myself into my bikini and pose all ‘Scarlett’ style out near the pool so I can line us up together to make my point! Maybe I can convince all of my friends to do the same!!
In reality and just looking at the surface, never before has my body looked ‘worse’! With no nipples, big scars across my chest and foobs where my ‘normal’ looking breasts once were, strangely, I love my body now more than I ever have. This has been an unexpected outcome in the journey of me undergoing the bilateral mastectomy and I love it.
It’s a little disappointing that it’s taken me this long to learn how to really feel comfortable in my own skin, but now that I’ve reached this point, I couldn’t be happier. It’s time to take me, my cellulite, my stretch marks and my moles and we’re all going to live it up big time as we learn to truly enjoy the healthy and long life we have ahead of us.
Never before have I truly appreciated the deeper meaning of ‘it’s what’s on the inside that counts.’
Now if only I had an image to post here of my gorgeous imperfect body to truly make my point. I’ll have to get the camera out next time I’m relaxing by the pool in my bikini.
So, it was a week ago now that I poured my heart out to the world by sharing my first teary moment since my prophylactic bilateral mastectomy. If you missed the blog, you can read it here: Holy Big Boobs Batman!
I look back at this now and have two thoughts…..
How very honest and open for me to share my true personal feelings at the time.
What was the big deal?
Isn’t it funny how time can heal all wounds? I watch the You Tube video link now and while it’s how I felt at the time, I can say that my statement of ‘time will tell’ at the end is true.
It’s only been 7 days since my final expansion, 7 days since I wrote the blog and 7 days since I recorded the You Tube clip and things are vastly different.
You can decide for yourself from the comparison shot, but I think it’s fairly obvious in my gym shirt!! It’s the same top, the same location in the house, the only difference is the lighting, with one image being taken at night, the other just 7 days later in the morning. The hooters no longer look like they are going to topple me over if I was pushed from behind!!
If that’s not obvious enough, check out the difference with the shirt off!! It’s a much more realistic looking bust now. Even my sister admitted to me tonight that the photo of the left looked a bit freaky when she first saw it. She agrees that the image on the right is much better and I’m with her, by foobs look much better now.
When I posted the update on my Previvor Facebook page, I spotted my husband checking out the comparison multiple times in disbelief. Given he has seen them everyday since they were huge last week, I guess he didn’t really notice the settling, but I definitely did. It was also apparent when some of my friends, both male and female, started to comment that they didn’t look ‘very big’ in real life compared to the photo’s that I shared. One friend even wondered whether I was using some sort of special filter to make them look bigger in the photo!! I have no doubt that some ladies would love an ‘instant expanding’ filter on their camera, but definitely not me!
A big positive I found this week was the fact that I can now wear strapless shirts without a bra, and the double bonus is that there’s no risk of ‘high beaming’ when I’m cold. I have mentioned it a few times, but let me remind you that I LOVE LOVE LOVE no nipples!!
Moving on from the size and convenience of my foobies, I am more excited to have made my official comeback to training last week, just 2 days after my expansion. It was officially ‘foobie fitness’ time. Please note that it was only when I received the ‘official’ call from the Doctor to confirm I was OK to resume training.
I ventured out to the Nundah Criterium Track the very next day, which is only couple of Km’s from our place. I’d usually ride down, but given it was to be my first official ‘outdoor cycle’, I thought it would be wise to drive down for training. The session with the Tri Alliance Queensland squad is always fun and it was great to see some familiar faces, along with some new faces too. The track is fantastic for training, with a very smooth surface, perfect for my first foobie cycle. It’s also protected from motorists!! The only condition I had from the Doctor about cycling was ‘to not fall off’, so the crit track is perfect for this.
I took it nice and easy, spinning around for the session, with an effort or two in there to see if my body could handle a little speed on the bike. While I didn’t break any records, everything felt great and I gained some confidence in my post surgery body by training with the team. It’s often argued that the best part of training is the coffee afterwards, so naturally some of the team met for a coffee after the ride. We were in my ‘hood’, so it was nice to meet at the local Retroespresso Coffee for a delicious brew.
All that stress about taking the foobs out in public wasn’t necessary. While I filled my Smiling for Smiddy cycle jersey out a little more than I have in the past, the foobs weren’t obviously ‘fake’ and tucked nicely into my regular top. Foobie fitness winning in my book!!
Next came my Wednesday PM session. I was on a roll!! I decided that now that I had clearance from the Doc, I was pretty much going to see what my body could do. I took myself along to Kosama Fitness for the ‘Foundations’ class, which is a 30 minute intense session involving anything from kettle bell swings, to push-ups, TRX, squats, rope slams and a variety of other core and strength exercises. I managed to successfully survive the session and decided that I would stay on a roll and train until I had a sign from my body to slow down.
Well almost a week on and I haven’t stopped yet. Under the guidance of some great coaches and trainers, I’ve been able to fit in a fantastic foobie fitness schedule since Wednesday last week, including about 10 -12 sessions and things don’t look to be slowing down. I was even snapped in the Kosama finisher on Saturday, where we were rope slamming as a group at the end of a tough Afterburn class.
I usually try to do an AM and a PM session from Monday – Thursday, then an AM session Fri – Sun. Don’t tell the coach (he’s not likely to read this anyway), but I even managed to sneak in a 3rd session yesterday, heading to the pool for my very first swim set since surgery. There’s no need to panic though, I only swam 1KM and used it as a recovery swim after gym. Coach Ray made sure I didn’t push it and wouldn’t let me use paddles, nor swim more than the 1KM I said I’d do. He’s a pretty special guy!!
All in all, it’s been a great week, vastly different from how I was feeling this time last week after my mini-meltdown.
A high over the weekend was definitely my outdoor cycle on the ‘actual road’, which was done with some beautiful friends from the tri squad. We chatted the whole way and enjoyed a coffee (of course) together afterwards.
Then we decided to back it up with an indoor wind trainer session on Monday morning. Wind trainer sessions are tough, so to take our minds off it, we cycled to Chrissie Wellington’s spin set for 90 mins of intense and motivating fun.
I have some pretty amazing friends in my life, which I already knew prior to having surgery, but I must admit that throughout my recovery process, I have been reminded almost daily of the special bond I have with some of the amazing people I train with. I have missed them so much during my time off and I absolutely stoked to be back!!
It’s now 5 weeks after my bilateral mastectomy and everything has been absolutely amazing so far. If you have been following my blog, you may have even picked up that I have had some minor feelings of guilt at how brilliant my recovery has been, especially given I was up and about within hours of my surgery and I have been pain free since day 1.
I haven’t been sad or cried even once, nor have I had any feelings of anger or remorse about the decision I made. I’m loving my body more than ever, despite the big scars across my chest and the absence of my breasts and nipples. I’ve returned to training, been for a few runs, I’m back at the gym and I have even been back on my bike for some hard sessions on the wind trainer.
All in all, it has been a near perfect recovery. Yes there was that little mishap with me wetting the bed one night, but after reading many messages of support from friends who have had similar little ‘accidents’ themselves, in the big scheme of things I have had an absolute dream run.
That is until yesterday!!
Yesterday I cried! Actually, I didn’t just cry, I bawled my eyes out as I talked to myself out loud in the car on the way back from seeing the surgeon. I even broke down in front of some friends when I went to pick our girls up from a play date! It was very out of character and really weird to experience.
Why was I so upset?
I feel ridiculous even complaining about it. So much so that I was even tempted to just sweep it under the rug and ignore the fact that I had a full blown solo meltdown just minutes after my final expansion.
In fact, I feel so silly about it, that I hadn’t even spoken to my husband about it at the time I was preparing this very blog.
The expansion went perfectly well, once again there wasn’t any sign of pain and the increase in size was smooth sailing. The amazing surgeon increased my chest by another 100ml on each side, to total 230ml in each breast. This is still quite a lot less than the amount of breast tissue removed from each side, so anyone would think that I would be happy, right?
I’m still not sure!! I sat in the car for around 10 mins after finishing with the Dr, with the time spent taking some ‘after’ shots of my chest post expansion, a tradition I started pretty much from day 1. I like to keep a record of the visual journey, so the before and after shots are pretty normal. No reason for tears, that’s for sure.
So why the tears?
I was trying to work that out for myself as I was driving home, unsuccessfully trying to wipe them away before they rolled down my cheeks and onto my shorts. Thank goodness for sunglasses!! I managed to not look too strange waiting for the traffic lights to change, but to be honest, at the time I didn’t care. I wasn’t happy and I was letting it all out!!
And here’s why…..
I hated how big my boobs were!! There, I said it! I realise it must be ridiculous to read, but I was bawling my eyes out because my foobs (fake boobs) were freaking enormous!! They didn’t hurt and nor were they uncomfortable, I didn’t really have any physical reason to cry, but I just couldn’t help myself. Holy Big Boobs Batman!!
I was grabbing at them, holding them in my hands at every available opportunity. I would try one hand, two hands and if I’m to be completely honest, I think if I had another half-a-hand, I could have used that as well.
Yes they’re hard, I knew that would be the case. Yes they’re big, I also knew that would happen. So why was I so upset?
After giving it some thought, taking some reflection time and chatting to a friend about it, I think I was really upset because they’re just so bloody big!!
I’ve had big boobs (natural, perky and pretty much near perfect boobies) in my late teens. Back then everyone wanted big boobs. Not too big that you were picked on at school, and not too small for very much the same reason. Mine were bigger than ‘normal’ for someone my size, but they were great! I loved my boobs for about the next 10 years, before they started to become a pain in the ass when I was running or participating in sporting events. Thankfully over time they disappeared and became a nice little B cup.
When kids came along they grew enormously again (do remember me saying I could lick them while pregnant? True story!), but they deflated nicely back to a more ‘loose’ and mum like B cup. Now that I don’t have them anymore, I’m somewhat more comfortable sharing a full frontal ‘all natural’ selfie which was likely taken just days before they were removed.
Since my early 30’s I have come to love and appreciate my smaller bust line, so the shock today of having an instant bust again really knocked me about.
I confided in a friend, I asked whether I was being silly, I even sent an image of the side-by-side comparison……which to be truly appreciated should really be clicked in to see a larger image of the transformation.
Some very wise words and good advice came my way. “Just wait until it’s all done, enjoy them and strut your stuff, they’ll only be this big for a short amount of time”. Great advice, except for the fact that I need to wait 6 weeks before seeing the surgeon again.
Am I more upset at the way they look?
Am I more upset at the delay in not having the exchange done this month (which was my goal)?
Am I more upset that this means a delay on my ability to start training for the Smiling for Smiddy Challenge ride I’m a part of in August?
Am I more upset that I won’t fit my clothes? That my foobs look very obviously fake now and that I’m stuck with them for at least the next 7-10 weeks, depending on when I can be booked in for surgery?
Am I more upset that perhaps the reality might be that I won’t be able to have the reconstruction until after I finish and return from the Smiddy ride in September? Is there even enough time to train if I add in another surgery late May/June and then take 3-4 weeks to recover again before I can resume training?
This means I’m potentially stuck with these foobs for 6 months!!! OMGoodness, I want to cry right now! Here’s a full frontal view of exactly what it looks like……remember, to really appreciate the difference, click on the image and check out those knockers!!!
What’s the big deal you ask? I can hear the great advice from friends and family already playing over in my head……
Gee Yas, you really are whinging a lot for someone so positive!
They don’t look that big!
You chose to have this surgery done so why complain? (something my little Miss 7 reminds me of all the time – and she’s right!)
At least you won’t get cancer.
You knew they were going to be bigger before they could do the exchange.
It’s all part of the process.
Just wait and see what it turns out like after your exchange.
It will be done before you know it!!
It really is no big deal I know. I think I was just so upset that my plans (playing out in my head) are now all out the window and I’m now faced with between 6 weeks and 6 months of waiting……waiting…..waiting…..
I even skipped gym this morning because I was in so much shock at how HUGE my boobs looked in my regular training gear.
I’ve picked myself back up off the ground, but I will admit it was a bit of a struggle. A big part of me just wanted to cry all night long, go to sleep, wake up and see my perfect little flattish chesty there when I woke up.
I decided to talk about it with Leigh and also Layla and Libby today. The look on their faces when I showed them my bare breasts says it all. I’m not the only one that thinks they’re ginormous!!!
This was the look on Libby’s face when I showed her…..
Her initial shock was apparent. She couldn’t believe how big they looked, she poked and prodded them and we laughed together about how big they are now.
This was the look on Layla’s face when I showed her…….
She literally laughed! That hand over the mouth is very real, she thought they looked hilarious and then her big brown eyes widened with interest as she had a little feel and commented at how hard they were.
As for Leigh, I finally got around to showing him 24 hours after the expansion. He too looked closely at them and commented about how high they sit up. He grabbed them and was shocked at the firmness, but when he said that he might need a ‘closer inspection’ tonight, I realised that no matter what they look like, whether they’re real or foobs, with or without nipples, most men really do have a soft spot for boobies. His exact words when he saw them though were ‘ay caramba’.
In keeping with my promise to remain open and honest throughout the whole process, I recorded a video immediately after my expansion yesterday. It’s very real and raw, I fought hard to keep the tears at bay and while I’m really risking ridicule for my weakness towards such a small issue, I have decided to honour my word and share it.
Click on the image below to watch the You Tube footage.
It’s not something you hear women say regularly, but yes, I’m upset that my foobs are so big, but I know it’s part of a journey and I’ll pick myself up, dust myself off and suck it up until this journey is complete. I’m heading out in public tomorrow to train with the Tri Alliance Queensland squad, I hope I fit into my cycle jersey!!
I feel so much better for sharing my feelings and getting it all off my chest (no pun intended).
Thank you for your continued and unconditional support.
Before I had my surgery, I knew that there would be questions from friends about the process. I have always been prepared to share my journey openly and honestly, with the unconditional support from my amazing husband of 15 years, Leigh. Leigh was the one who inspired me to finally keep a blog, so he’s been very understanding and supportive of the information I share, in the method I share it, pictures and all!! I will admit that he does momentarily ‘cringe’ every now and then at some of the things I share, and let’s face it, when your wife asks this question…….”How do you feel about me writing a blog about post bilateral mastectomy sex?”, you really are entitled to the odd cringe here and there.
(standby for a future blog on the ‘sex’ topic too, but I have promised ‘no pictures’ on that one!!).
So almost immediately when the blog was first announced online, I was thrilled to receive a call from a really great friend of mine who wanted to know some more information. With guaranteed anonymity, he has agreed to share in his own words, some very raw emotions and thoughts about this entire process from his perspective. It’s only natural that men feel very differently to women when it comes to ‘boobs’, so without generalising too much, I think it’s fair to say that most men at some stage in their lives ‘love’ boobs.
‘You’re removing your boobs?’
What really goes on in the mind of a man when his friend announces that she’s willingly going to have both of her breasts removed?
I hope you enjoy reading this guest blog as much as I did!
In his exact words…….
“As I’ve followed Yas and her journey so far, I wanted to put some words down on how I’ve felt about the whole situation. Perhaps more a blokes perspective on the whole thing, but let’s go back to the very beginning to when it all began.
The first time I heard of Yasmin’s journey, much like many others, was the launch of the Previvor page, I was puzzled but not surprised that Yas was once again taking on another challenge…….What was it going to be this time? Another Ironman? An Ultra Marathon? Massive seemingly unachievable fundraising targets?…….Nope..Yas had made the life altering decision to take ownership of her future by deciding to have a Bilateral Mastectomy. As a bloke, it dawned on me exactly what this meant….Yas was having her boobs removed? I felt my emotion well up inside. I was sad and fearful for her. I was sad that she had been faced with making this decision in what seemed to me to be so unfair. Yas gives everything to all those around her. Nothing too big an ask, no task too small. She is a rock for many people. All-in-all I WAS BUMMED.
I gathered my thoughts and decided to read through the blog gaining a better understanding or perhaps a more educated one, on exactly what was happening and why.
Now I’m a person who loves the grey area of life. I constantly have so many questions running through my mind and it’s a part of me I’ve learnt to thoroughly enjoy. So the questions that immediately started entering my mind went something like this….
Am I going to lose my dear friend?
Is there a risk?
Is Leigh cool with this?
How does this surgery happen?
What happens to the nipple?
Is she going to get big fake replacements?
Now please excuse me for some of those, but I am a man (not an excuse I swear). I immediately jumped on the phone to talk at length with Yas regarding all my questions.
You see, we all love Yas for being Yas. She’s an open book and was more than happy to answer all my questions, so as the conversation flowed, more and more questions came out. I left the conversation so overwhelmed with happiness for Yas. Inspired by a women with so much strength. The most important thing for Yas was to be around for the girls and Leigh. Now for me, on the surface that seemed like the best answer possible, but I started thinking about how she must be feeling deep down about exactly what was about to occur to her body?
We are all a little sensitive to varying degrees about how we look in the mirror and I had no doubt Yas would be too. For the life of me though I just couldn’t understand where she managed to gather the courage to put herself out there in the most public world of Facebook. Perhaps this is a question that many of us will never understand, as we would likely never ever put ourselves out there as Yas has.
Now as the weeks went by, and as the Previvor page was being updated on a regular basis, Yas was starting to post pictures of herself with less and less clothes on.
Now as her friend, I was feeling a little uncomfortable with each passing week, thinking “Is she really going to get her boobs out for all to see?” But why was I being so coy? What is it that makes me feel funny about seeing my friend’s boobs in the name of raising awareness? And what is it that makes a boob a boob? A strange question I know, but this is a conversation Yas and I had that I’ll get back to a little later on.
By this stage I was feeling really excited for Yas as her strength was infectious and poured out in her blog. Every photo, both pre and post of Yas has one thing in common….She always has a big beautiful smile on her face. Even after surgery she was still smiling with her half glass full attitude. With a focus on nutrition and being as fit as possible, Yas went into surgery in the best possible condition she could have hoped for……….and then we all held our breath.
Through the world of Facebook and thanks to Yasmin’s amazing husband Leigh, we were informed she was out and all was ok. PHEW! But wait, that’s not enough for Yas. The next thing we knew, there she was in all her post op glory, bandages and all with another photo. Looking like she had a hangover of endless proportions, Yas was clearly off with the fairies but as usual smiling none the less. In no time at all Yas was back on the blog reporting how great she was feeling and enviable photos of her amazing post op meals. No doubt aiding in a speedy recovery.
I, like most of Australia, had seen a few weeks earlier the outrageous nature of haters of the lovely women from Under the Red Dress Project. I was fearful and protective of my friend not wanting her to face the same trolls that have nothing better do with their time then hate on people from behind a keyboard.
This is the photo of Beth Whaanga, which caused controversy worldwide just 2 weeks before Yas had her surgery. Yas and Beth connected and became friends. Yas has since had her own Under the Red DressProject photo shoot, where Yas will appear in her own before and after image to support the project. (Stay tuned for that one!)
Next thing I knew there was the Previvor update. I knew the photo was somewhere on the lower half of the page. I paused and like pulling a band-aid off quickly I scrolled down and there was Yas in all her post op glory. Yas even included a You Tube video of the big reveal, which can be viewed by clicking here.
Now, I’d seen some images earlier of women having been through the same surgery so I sort of knew what to expect, but this was different. This was my friend. The first thing I noticed when I watched the video was Yasmin’s smiling face again. Ever so happy, strong and vibrant. When I looked at Yasmin’s chest where her boobs once were, I felt relieved. Relieved that it was all over for her and her beautiful family. Relieved that I knew she’d be around for many years to come, relieved that she seemed in no pain at all.
I WAS HAPPY.
Because I’m happy
Clap along if you feel like a room without a roof
Because I’m happy
Clap along if you feel like happiness is the truth
Because I’m happy
Clap along if you know what happiness is to you
Because I’m happy
Clap along if you feel like that’s what you wanna do
As the weeks ticked by, Yas being Yas, soldiered on with a spring in her step and a skid of her scooter out and about raising awareness, being a mum, wife and business women. You just can’t keep a good woman down and Yas confidently returned to her beloved sport and friendship circle within Triathlon within a few weeks of surgery. My jaw dropped to the floor when I read this, but what an amazing woman.
Now lets talk about what makes a boob a boob?
I said earlier I have a mind that loves the grey area and this is one of those questions that Yas and I spoke about, which all started over Yasmin’s decision not to take the risk of saving her nipples. To me at first I’d never really thought about it, but then I asked myself if it really makes all that big a difference? I grew up in a household filled with women. I heard all the moans and groans from my sister and mum about having small boobs and not feeling great in ‘this or that’ dress which would look so much better with a full C.
So I get that women choose to have implants post op perhaps just to make them feel womanly again (although I’m sure it goes much deeper than that to a place men are yet to work out. I think its the same place that “no babe I don’t need any help” and in the next breath “why aren’t you helping” live).
Why is it that as a society we applaud a woman who looks beautiful in that red dress, but remove her clothes to reveal her boobs with no nipples and we turn like a pack of wolves? We revere women with ‘fake boobs’ and post op scars when the choice is made for cosmetic reasons, yet we don’t condone a woman with no nipples, implants and post op scars when making the choice to save her life. I JUST DON’T GET IT.
In that red dress they both look the same, but when naked, as a society we turn the cheek. So is it all about the Nipple? Is that what makes a boob a boob? I guess that’s a question that each individual will make for herself. One that only Yas can make for herself, one I’m sure will be had with her loving husband and family.
My overall opinion remains this….
How can we put those down that are brave enough to stand up and expose themselves for no greater purpose than to spark conversation, to make us stop and think, to raise awareness and the profile of a cancer’s taking the lives of those closest to us? To all the men and women making this life changing and challenging decision, I stand and applaud you.
Ladies, do your happy dance, wear the shit out of that red dress and strut your stuff like a super star because to your family and friends you truly are.
To my dear friend Yas, you are a star that shines brighter than any I know. You are an inspiration to your family and friends, a woman your daughter’s will admire. Thank you for being you and allowing us all into your life, to follow and grow with you along this journey.
You are loved a cherished by us all”
WOW! How do I top that? During the guest blog writing process, I must admit I was nervous as to what my male friend would write. As much as men claim to not understand women, it really does go back the same way with men. We have no idea what goes on in your minds most days, so I had no idea what to expect!
When I read his thoughts for the first time, I will admit I was nervous, but as I continued through each paragraph, I just wanted to give him a big, warm, bestie hug!! Seriously, how lucky am I to have friends that care for me this much?
All I can really do is say ‘thank you my beautiful friend’ for opening your heart and your mind with such raw and real truth.
While his name will remain unknown, he has shared this journey in a way that has helped me appreciate friendship deeper than ever before.
And by the way ladies….just for the record….his guest blog post has far exceeded mine when it comes to the ‘word count’, which just goes to show, men do love to communicate as much as we do!!
I still remember sitting in the hospital 4 weeks ago and wondering how I might work through the recovery process after my prophylactic bilateral mastectomy.
When I say ‘work through’, I’m not referring to the emotional side of things, because after 10 years of knowing I would eventually be sitting in hospital recovery from this surgery, I am very stable in this area. What I’m referring to is the physical recovery.
There were many variables to consider. So many that had I even bothered to start processing them in my head, I might have sent myself into some sort of overwhelmed and panicked state. In the end, I made a conscious decision to just ‘let it be’, which to be honest, is not normally my nature.
You see, if you have read some of my earlier blogs, you would know that I’m a little OTT when it comes to being organised. Everything is either on my to-do list, scheduled into our calendar or emailed to myself so I don’t forget. There’s not many things that I forget or miss and it’s not because I mental superpowers, it all comes down to writing everything down.
I’m a little old fashioned, I still use a notebook and pen, but this person has it well and truly sorted with a tattoo’d template on his/her arm!!
You see it’s just normal to me to have my gym and training schedule as recurring appointments in my calendar, I’ve been doing it for years. In our house, both AM and PM sessions are up for grabs and with both Leigh and myself keen to keep fit and use exercise as our ‘time out’, we balance it well by having it all scheduled into our shared calendar.
One of the first steps I took to just ‘let it go’ was to remove my training regime from the calendar. The last thing I needed daily while recovery in hospital, was a calendar reminder to go the the gym, jump on my bike, or head out for a run. I applied the ‘ignorance is bliss’ philosophy to this one and it worked perfectly.
I still remember being in my hospital bed and my surgeon saying that by 4 weeks post mastectomy, she was confident that I could jump onto a wind trainer to do some cycling. I thought this was fantastic news and my only worry was whether my foot would hold up on a wind trainer just 19 days after being surgically pinned. I was the model student, ensuring that I pretty much did ‘nothing’ when I arrived home, under Dr’s orders of course.
As recovery continued to process perfectly, I decided to take a visit to the Kosama gym I train at on the eve of my 4 week anniversary post surgery. I was there purely for a stretching session and despite spending an hour doing nothing more than slow and steady stretching, I felt amazing. I decided at this time that I was going to brave the Tri Alliance wind trainer session the next morning, exactly 4 weeks after my surgery.
I hobbled in, moon boot and all, ready to see whether I could even get on my bike without any foot pain. In my mind it was just a given, I was going to train, it wasn’t a big deal whatsoever and other than the excitement of seeing some of my training buddies for the first time in 4 weeks, it was just another training session.
Needless to say from the look on my face, it was fantastic!! I loved the energy from everyone else smashing out a hard session, I gained confidence as more and more time passed and by about half way through, I realised that I was pushing pretty hard and feeling fantastic. I was so excited to make it through that I decided to volunteer the home garage as an alternative training location for the Saturday morning cycle session.
Before I knew it, we were planning to complete a 3 hour wind trainer session at 5:30am the very next day. Now I won’t lie, I did momentarily wonder whether I’d just overcommitted by agreeing to participate in this killer set, but in the end, I thought about one of my favourite sayings that I remind our young girls of regularly…….
On a quick tangent, if you haven’t read Watty Piper’s book, The Little Engine that Could, it’s a MUST READ in life, for yourself and everyone you know. After reading this book 100’s of times in my life so far, you can imagine how ‘over the moon’ I was about 12 months ago when I learnt that it had been made into a movie. The DVD is a MUST see, even featuring the voices of Whoopi Goldberg, Jaime Lee Curtis, Alyson Stoner and Corbin Blue. AMAZING!!!!!
So with the ‘I think I can, I think I can, I think I can’ chant playing over and over in my mind, a 3 hour wind trainer session it was!!
Now I should point out that a 3 hour wind trainer session in your home garage isn’t usually something that people ‘volunteer’ to do, especially when the session entails a detailed minute-by-minute set from the Head Coach of your triathlon squad. We all joked that he would have loved putting a hard set like this together, he’s a bit of a sadist (in the nicest possible way).
I printed off the details so we wouldn’t lose track along he way and before we knew it, there we were, all three of us rolling our legs over in the 30 minute warm up. We laughed and had a great time looking outside at the non-existent rain clouds that made this session happen in the first place!! We even had a visit from another triathlon training buddy who lives locally when he rode up the driveway to say ‘hi’ on his way to a leisurely ride.
If you clicked on the image above for a closer look, you can clearly see that we’re all pretty happy. This was definitely an image taken early on during the warm up.
Before too long, the musical tunes became our motivation, we talked less, pedalled more and started to really embrace the set. A few hours later and the look on our faces really changed…..
This is the sort of image a coach wants to see when he sets a solo session for his athletes. Heads down, focused looks on those faces and a LOT of sweat. We were all absolutely saturated, we could have filled a small bucket with the amount of sweat we were wringing out of our clothes after we finished. The side-by-side comparison photo says it all…..what started with smiles, ended with satisfaction that we succeeded in getting through.
While mentally these sessions are tough, I must admit that I was probably on a bit of a ‘high’ the whole way through. Mainly because I was feeling just so very appreciative that I had two amazing ladies beside me, sharing such a gruelling session with me, just 4 weeks after my surgery. I was also feeling physically strong, with no pain in my foot, or my chest area. We rode down on the tri-bars for virtually the entire set, it kept me stable and it wasn’t until just before the last 5 minute ‘all out’ effort that I began to feel a little fatigued in my legs.
We all celebrated with a dip in the pool, where our bodies and minds really appreciated what we had just accomplished. We were each very spoilt by my super-dooper husband who went to the local coffee shop to pick up some amazing coffee for each of us, which we drank in the pool accompanied by a delicious ‘breakfast’ prepared by our two girls, consisting of an apple each, along with some Cadbury chocolate buttons.
I did wonder momentarily where they got the idea that chocolate was a great breakfast food, but to be honest, it really didn’t matter. The gesture of them preparing a tray for us was just wonderful and I think they secretly included the chocolates for themselves, because I don’t think I actually got even 1 choccy button! We all spent the next hour in the pool playing games, watching the girls do dives, handstands, tricks and laps.
It was only when I tried to play the game ‘Marco Polo’ that I remembered I’d just had a prophylactic bilateral mastectomy. You see I launched myself into the deep end trying to avoid being caught, but when I tried to do a freestyle stroke to power away from ‘Marco’, I couldn’t get my arm all the way around. I still have limited mobility when it comes to ‘arm swings’, so I was left bobbing around in the deep end and had to ‘scull’ my way to the side of the pool.
I laughed to myself, reflecting just how powerful the mind really is. Whether you think you can, or think you can’t, either way you’re right!!
A 3 hour wind trainer session in a home garage just 4 weeks after a prophylactic bilateral mastectomy and just 19 days after having my 5th Metatarsal operated on and pinned into place!!
Thanks to some fantastic company, great tunes and a killer set….
If you’re anything like me, my newsfeed this past week or two has been flooded with images of my beautiful female friends and family, all without make-up.
To get you visually in on the act, here’s my ‘unofficial no makeup selfie’ just hours after surgery, where I’m definitely make up free and even completely naked, other than my sticky tape chest and disposable hospital undies.
Initially I had no idea what was going on with the ‘no makeup selfie’ craze, so I just sat back and watched it all unfold. I saw some gorgeous photo’s, predominately of women and girls, primarily supporting breast cancer awareness. Then I started to read articles both supporting and criticising the campaign.
The supporters were the ones sharing the images, commenting on them, providing those who braved the ‘make up free look’ publicly with more confidence once they’d posted the image. Some friends tagged their mates, challenging them to do the same on their own feed. I must admit, it’s been a nice change from the ‘promoted posts’ I often see as I scroll through.
The critics were asking why? What’s the point? What’s the big deal about having no make up on? Apparently some even say that it’s a sly way of women to put one another down. Seriously? Are we really that cruel in society that we feel the need to criticise others when they’re stepping out of their comfort zone?
Let’s just get one thing straight! There’s a myriad of ways to raise awareness and funds for cancer research, in fact, there’s a myriad of ways to raise awareness and funds for ANY charity. Some ride their bikes, others compete in sporting events, some swim, some sell stuff on eBay, people shave their heads, some grow a mo, children sell chocolates, brownies, cakes, muffins, raffle tickets and crafts.
My question is…..Why do we feel the need to hack each other down when something new pops up in the media?
I consider myself a very open person, I love seeing new trends emerge and I’m typically supportive of anything, providing it’s not illegal. If I have an opinion, it’s usually not on the negative side as I think that we’re all different and we should be accepting of diversity.
It really irks me that people are so judgemental and cruel. One example is the Ricki-Lee selfie. I don’t really ‘like’ nor ‘dislike’ Ricki-Lee, I don’t really know her songs, so I’m not a ‘fan’ screaming support for her. In fact, when I looked into this further, it was only when I ‘Googled’ her name that I realised it wasn’t spelt ‘Ricky-Lee’.
What I am though is another woman who is embarrassed by the backlash she has received from others for the way her picture looks.
For those of you who haven’t come across it, here’s the image she posted on her Instagram feed:
Her image was posted with the text “Love getting home & wiping off my make up!!! Ready for some serious couch time! #HappyFriday xxxx”
The backlash came from comments like these…..
“The kind of creep who would bang an anorexic freak like this would just as easily bang her little brother. This ain’t a woman, it’s a little boy. And that boyfriend of hers is a closet pedophile.”
“You’re in the wrong frame of mind if you think you look healthy,”
I seriously had to read these comment a few times before I could even believe them. Do people really bully one another for a simple photo posted online? Geez!!!
Thankfully I was able to escape the cruelty after reading this comment from one of Ricki-Lee’s supporters….
“I am a size 14 and have collar bones that stick out quite dramatically. Yeh, if I took a photo up close like this one, I would look a little on the thin side… A full body shot, I would look overweight… Can anyone win? Leave her alone people. It’s pathetic!”
This woman is right!! We can’t win can we? Regardless of whether we post ‘no make up selfies’, or images all dolled up and looking flawless, there’s always going to be haters out there.
Ricki-Lee proudly stood up for herself. Here’s what she said to the online bullies who felt the need to attempt to bring her down…..
I couldn’t have said it better myself and strangely found myself wanting to burst into song chanting ‘Go Ricki, Go Ricki, Go Ricki’. I was so happy she stuck up for herself, in such a positive way.
At the end of the day, the ‘no makeup selfie’ social media craze was created to not only raise awareness of cancer, but more importantly to raise funds towards research programs. Some critics argue that we don’t need to raise ‘awareness’, which I suppose for some is true. In our family, cancer awareness is extremely high, we’ve always discussed it openly and honestly from a very young age and it’s not something that has ever been hidden behind closed doors.
I came across this very detailed cancer awareness ribbon colours chart and thought it would help to share.
Others argue that sharing a ‘no makeup selfie’ does nothing for those who have bravely fought and won, or sadly lost the battle against this terrible disease. I have even read some comments claiming that sharing a ‘no makeup selfie’ mocks the imagery of cancer patients, with statements such as this….A ‘no makeup selfie’ can’t compare to the pain and suffering of those who have battled the disease?’
It’s a no win argument really and the reality is, regardless of the cause, regardless of the motivation behind it, there’s no real way to please everyone.
While I personally bare the scars, I have never had to fight cancer, so I’m in no position to comment about the comparison of sharing a ‘no makeup selfie’ and the visual impact fighting cancer has on sufferers. You might remember my quote….
I never proclaim to be brave when it comes to cancer. I have always approached it in more of a statistical way, which is why I didn’t jump on the bandwagon to post a ‘no makeup selfie’ during the initial stages of the campaign.
However, after giving it some thought, I have decided to post a ‘no makeup selfie’ of myself, but with a little difference. I am including not just by face, but the scars I bare from my recent prophylactic bilateral mastectomy and I’ve done this for two reasons…..
It’s real!! It’s what I look like now without makeup
To proudly show how accepting I am of my new ‘imperfect’ body
To assist with healing, I do still have Fixomull tape over the scars where my nipples once were, so it’s not completely ‘raw’, but other than that, it’s all me, no filters, no smoothing, no trickery with lighting, just a plain old first-thing-in-the-morning selfie in the bathroom.
I know I’ve shared ‘selfies’ of my chest on this page in the past, this blog has always been a very open and honest forum for me, but as I mentioned in my previous blog article, this time I’m actually going to share it on my personal Facebook page.
It’s risky yes, because there are rules around posting nude pictures on that particular social media platform, however with this image, I’d be pretty comfortable arguing that it’s not actually graphic in this form. It’s also risky because not only am I exposing myself to my friends and family, but I’m also potentially sharing this ‘no makeup selfie’ with business contacts, people I work with professionally, those that would not usually be ‘exposed’ (no pun intended) to my personal story. I’m also at risk of the ‘haters’ slaying me verbally online and perhaps like my friend Beth Whaanga from Under the Red Dress project, I’m at risk of losing ‘friends’.
Along with my image, I’ll be making a donation to The Mater Foundation, supporting much needed breast, ovarian and prostate cancer research. I support The Mater Foundation via my Smiling for Smiddy Challenge fundraiser. You can support and donate yourself directly here.
If you want ‘in’ on the ‘no makeup selfie’, just snap a photo of yourself without makeup on and post it socially. If it’s not your ‘thing’, then don’t do it – it’s as easy as that. Just don’t be a hater please!!!
If you decide to go ahead and participate by putting yourself out there for others to see you in your bare and natural glory, then please do remember to you jump online and make a small donation towards cancer research. I have purposely said this more than once because it’s not about awareness, it’s about raising funds to help researchers find a cure for this disease.
I’ll continue challenging my own friends and family via my own social and ‘offline’ networks to donate just $5, the cost of a takeaway coffee to help raise much needed funds. Funds that might one day prevent our children from having to make the decision as to whether they need to remove their own breasts to avoid a breast cancer diagnosis.
Remember, you can donate here and the few minutes it will take you to donate just $5, might just save lives.
Well it’s official, I’ve made it to the 3 week mark! Yesterday was my 21 day anniversary post Prophylactic Bilateral Mastectomy.
There are quite a few exciting moments of this past week…..
Number 1 – I can now drive!! Whoo hoo!! I’m back on the roads, driving as safe as ever and a little more cautious as I turn corners, go over speed bumps and reverse park. You see, even as the passenger, being in a car post prophylactic bilateral mastectomy has been a challenge. Every bump feels like I’m being grabbed around the chest, pulled violently and propped back into place with a jolt. Leigh’s been really good (most of the time), he remembers to slow down and take the corners a little less excitedly, but when we pull into our driveway, I’m often heard ‘groaning’ momentarily as I get flung around, reminding me that I’m a little fragile.
I must admit, it’s a good reminder, because it if wasn’t for the bumps in the car, I probably would forget that I’m still in ‘slowing down’ mode.
Number 2 – I am now sleeping back in our bedroom! Gone are the nights spent sleeping alone downstairs in my bargain Gumtree recliner, I can now make my way upstairs and sleep cosily beside my beautifully warm husband.
I’m proud to also confirm that since I posted my blog about my little ‘speed bump’ – I haven’t had any more accidents. I was surprised to have more than 20 friends, family and strangers all share with me their own little story about their ‘accident’. It seems that wetting the bed or your pants isn’t so rare as an adult after all. I laughed so much at the shared stories, many of which are in the ‘vault’ as promised to so many of you.
Number 3 – I’m able to sleep on my side! This sounds insignificant, but it’s actually really exciting, because it means I’m healing well and for a sleeper who normally loves to be on her tummy, sleeping on my side takes me one step closer to the dream of sleeping ‘normally’ again.
There’s no spooning just yet, but I think it’s getting closer each and every night!!
Number 4 – No more knee scooter! This is a great milestone, because it means my foot is healing well enough that I can now weight bare on it. While I’m a little while away from running again, I can now waddle my way around comfortably in my moon boot without injury and without medication.
Number 5 – I can now get on the wind trainer – Dr’s approval!! I’m surprised I didn’t make this one Number 1 and I bet some of my friends are shocked too. I must admit, I popped it down here at Number 5 because while I’ve been desperate to do some sort of training, I really must admit that I’m proud of myself for not being so ‘hung up’ on it in the past 3 weeks. I’ve really tried to suppress my previous strong desire to train, so instead of feeling sorry for myself, I decided to just embrace and accept that I needed to respect my body, be healthy to my mind and not ‘care’ about the fact that I haven’t been able to do anything. So that’s why this is all the way down at Number 5, because while it’s important to me, it hasn’t been the priority in previous weeks.
I know, even I’m surprised!!! I can’t wait to train with this crew again, Friday here we come!!!
Number 6 – I don’t need to wear a bra! My first trip ‘out’ this week was to attend a corporate function with 900 other delegates at the Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre. I managed to fit reasonably well into one of my business dresses, I was relieved after trying on at least 5 different options from my wardrobe, most of which were far too roomy around the bust to take out in public just yet. The bonus – I didn’t need to wear a bra! No crop-top, no tank, no cami, no boob-tube, no nothing! Just me and my bare skin underneath my Cue dress. It was a little strange to begin with, but I decided to run with it and it felt amazing. I think I might make a habit of this!!
Number 7 – I had coffee with friends! Lucky Number 7 indeed. Who would have thought that the act of simply catching up with some of my triathlon buddies would make me feel so much more alive? I took advantage of the fact that I can drive again and decided to sneak into The Valley Pool and meet up with some of athletic friends all training with Tri Alliance Queensland at the regular Friday ‘windy’ or ‘swim’ session. Our favourite meeting place is Bellissimo Coffee in Fortitude Valley.
I arrived as everyone was finishing and just seeing some familiar faces immediately made me feel better. I was connected again, seeing the people who I’ve trained with over the years all sweaty and grotty after a tough session. Not once did I feel sorry for myself because I wasn’t able to train. I got a few smelly hugs and loved it! I couldn’t stop smiling, I was surrounded by some really amazing people and when we all met at the local coffee shop for breakfast, it reminded me why I miss training. It’s not the act of physical activity that I miss, it’s the connectivity with the beautiful people I train with that I’ve missed the most.
I had a little spare time before my Dr’s appointment after coffee, so I popped in to visit the team at Kosama. Talk about another injection of positivity and energy! I chatted to Niki, one of the trainers and once again it reminded me of why I get out of bed at 4:30am most days. Being surrounded by people who are passionate, positive and truly genuine is enough for me to want to skip off to training each morning. Yes the exercise is great and it undoubtedly keeps you physically fit, but I really don’t think that it’s the driving force behind why some people love to train. For me personally, it’s the friendships, the connection and even the smile from a familiar face, even if no conversation occurs.
It really energised me for the whole day!!
Number 8 – My hair is long enough to cover my ‘chest’. This is a weird one I know, but that’s kind of expected if you know me well. You see, I’ve been growing my hair for about 2 years now with the view that I will shave it all off during my ‘Smiling for Smiddy‘ Challenge this year. I’m riding my bike with around 50 people all the way from Brisbane to Townsville, all in aid of helping raise money for The Mater Foundation, supporting much needed research into Breast, Ovarian and Prostate Cancer.
It’s timely that this weekend is my Pop’s birthday. He passed away a few years ago with Prostate Cancer, so in addition to me proactively beating breast cancer by removing my breasts, I’m a big fan of supporting Smiling for Smiddy via their many events, to raise money to help find a cure so I can save future family members from being diagnosed with this terrible disease.
I’m prepared to shave my head bald – completely bald, blade ZERO style!! But I’ll only do it if I reach my fundraising target this year. If you’d like to make a small donation to have your vote for me to either ‘Save’ or ‘Shave’ my hair, check out my Fundraiser page and make your donation there.
So now that I’m past the 21 day mark, I’m well and truly on the way to a full recovery. I have my first ‘fill’ scheduled on Monday 31 March, so that’s going to be a whole new experience. I’m looking forward to sharing it with you.
On a final note…..I’m currently preparing my own ‘no make-up selfie’ to post on my personal Facebook page. Mine will be a little different though, as I’m actually working up the courage to post an image of my chest, bare, no make-up, no touching up, no filters, nothing! I know I’ve shared this here in my Previvor blog and on my Previvor Facebook page, but I’ve never posted it out to a wider audience via my own personal profile.
Most of the photo’s I post of myself are makeup-less anyway, so I thought I’d bravely share an image which will undoubtedly represent what I see as a visual image of being brave and raising awareness of breast cancer.
I’ll be asking my friends and family to support my selfie by making a donation of just $5 (the cost of a takeaway coffee), in support of Cancer research.
If you want to get in early, feel free to make your ‘coffee’ donation here, you’re also welcome to connect with me on my personal Facebook profile to see the ‘chest makeup-less selfie’ post when it comes.
Thank you to all of you for following my journey and supporting me with messages of love and unconditional, non-judgemental support.