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Rejected by Victoria Secret


“The core paradox that underlies spirituality is the haunting sense of incompleteness, of being somehow unfinished…..For to be human is to be incomplete, yet yearn for completeness…” Ernest Kurtz

In 2004, I was a vibrant, successful, fifty-nine year old kick butt racket-ball player. Suddenly faced with a mastectomy, then abruptly relegated to drab, colorless, unfashionable bras ─ the ugly bra syndrome ─ was quite disconcerting. Despite the absence of one breast, I still wanted to feel sensual through the look and feel of lovely undergarments. No longer available to post mastectomy women were the vibrant colors and various materials that I preferred.

Reconstruction proved unattainable due to protracted radiation. The ever tenacious part of me sprang into action. For as long as I can remember, when faced with obstacles, I won’t stop until I have exhausted every possible means to the end. Then I think of another possible approach then another…. Driving home, resigned, having being told by the surgeon that breast reconstruction would have over a 50% failure rate my next course of action was forming.

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Breast Reconstruction Foiled

One year after my mastectomy, I was thrilled to finally have my consult with a reconstruction surgeon. Of course the treatment team had informed me that radiation would most likely preclude the possibility of breast reconstruction but I only heard the “possibility” part of that sentence. Women need to be 100% certain that we understand radiation treatments may (probably) rule out reconstruction. For a person like me who thinks she can buck up under any circumstance involving pain, I didn’t understand that the radiation in and of itself would compromise skin tissue thereby affectively eliminating my choice.

Filled with confidence and ready to get on with the next phase of my recovery process I awaited the surgeon’s footsteps with excited anticipation.

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Cancer: Bald, burnt and tired

“Learning to befriend the dark means learning to befriend nothingness.”

“Our experience of nothingness can be personal or political; they can be at times the most affirming and unitive experiences of our lives and at other times the most devastating and earth-shaking experiences. What is certain is that our nothingness experiences are never superficial. They are always rock-bottom, radical, of our roots.” Matthew Fox

36 radiation treatments after months of chemo therapy, bald, burnt and tired I was dropped off of the conveyor built of cancer treatments. Close to one year had passed since I was first diagnosed with cancer. Grateful, I was ready for my reward, a cruise to Alaska.

Except for feeling self-conscious about my baldness, I was delirious with gratitude. Oh, the many levels of thoughts and feelings that simultaneously occur within each of us are truly stunning.

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Radiation treatment: Danger Keep out

 

 

“Like water I am poured out, disjointed are all my bones. My heart has become like wax, it is melted within my breast. Parched a burnt clay is my throat, my tongue cleaves to my jaws.”  (Ps. 22:14-16)

 

Scheduled for thirty six radiation treatments, four small marks resembling large freckles were permanently tattooed on my chest precisely pinpointing the boundaries to correspond with the area needing radiation.

Sitting in the waiting room, lacking any semblance of a spiritual being, drool leaked down my chin. Three women, also in hospital gowns opened at the back, mirrored the terror in my eyes.

The moment I saw the sign on the entrance door to the radiation room, I began my “chin-quivering-drool-tic”. Large letters read “DANGER – KEEP OUT”. Panic enveloped me when my name was called.

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Chemotherapy, Skydiving and Drooling

“Are you willing to be sponged out, erased, cancelled, made nothing? Are you willing to be made nothing? dipped into oblivion? If not, you will never really change.” D.H. Lawrence

I have an unattractive motion in my chin when I have exceeded my terror level. It gets numb and quivers pathetically causing me to drool. This happened during my one and only sky dive and just prior to a scuba dive off of the Great Barrier Reef. It happened as I followed the nurse down the long foreboding hallway to the hospital bed. The chin thing started when the nurse approached me in the waiting room.