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There were the giant hard plastic domes with their sticky rims. I managed to keep the domes on for three hours that day before my cat dislodged one of the tubes and first, the motor—and then the alarm—went off. Then I freaked, desperately prying the sticky suction cups off my chest like Raquel Welch battling those suffocating antibodies in Fantastic Voyage.

Staring down at the domes and the mountain of paperwork and products they came with, I suddenly became angry all over again about the cancer and what it had put me through. What it continued to put me through. I also began to question my sanity. But what was I getting myself into? Suddenly, chemo and radiation paled in comparison to the torturous task of strapping these monstrosities onto my chest every day for the weeks and months it would take to grow new girls.

Young Woman Shares Her Breast Cancer Journey - Mayo Clinic

Would I still be able to sleep? To box? To write?

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Would I be able to deal with the sniggers and stares when I went out in public wearing the thing? What about the recovery period following the fat-transfer procedure? Would I be able to handle it? My body had been violated in a very personal, very permanent way. A violation that I wanted to rectify. I went for a run as I often did when cancer and its demons got to me, passing billboards of topless Hawaiian women, joggers with cleavage popping out of their sports bras. In bed that night, I stared up at the light fixture above me.

Even the ceiling in my bedroom had a boob. Some saw no reason to go through more surgery, more pain just to get their boobs back. What was the point? For me, losing my breasts was devastating. It was more about aesthetics and loss of control and the fact that my body had been violated in a very personal, very permanent way.

Plus I had always just really liked my breasts. They were pretty, they were feminine, they were responsive, and most of all, they were a part of me. Losing them had been like losing two very dear friends. But at night, when the pocketed bra came off, I saw a scarred battlefield where cancer had won. I saw a fighter and a survivor, too, and there was comfort, even pride, in that. Just as in boxing, I needed to go the distance.

I freaked out every time the little motor came on, signaling a broken seal. And then there was the little matter of sleep. They dug into my armpits, bumped against my ribs and the little motor would go off every time I tried to get comfortable.

My Journey With Triple Negative Breast Cancer

Frank Isik at the Polyclinic, told me repeatedly. You need help. She was right. Once I got the anxiety under control, I was able to sleep and once I was able to sleep, everything got easier. Within days, I started wearing black camisoles and loose T-shirts over the Brava, trying to fold it into my life, my look.


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Soon after that, I started taking pictures of myself and my new 44EEEs and sending them to my big sister, who wrote back asking if my Brava device made sounds like the milk machines back on the dairy farm where we used to play as kids. I came up with a schedule that allowed me to work and box and run and socialize and even date until 9 every night; after that, I was in boob jail until 9 the next morning.

I practiced self-talk, reminding myself of the cardinal rule of cancer: you have to bend it to your life, you have to make it your bitch, not the other way around. But after a couple of weeks, a strange thing happened. I discovered I could handle it. Especially when I took off the device each morning and saw a pair of little puffs staring back at me in the mirror. There were welts and mottled rings of inflamed skin, as well. But all I could see were my tiny breastettes.

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At 54, I was going through puberty all over again. And so I sit, sipping my wine on a lazy Sunday night, giving buxom Christina Hendricks from Mad Men a pretty good run for her money. According to my detailed instructions, I have to wear the domes nonstop until I climb onto the operating table Wednesday morning. Said will take them off and start filling those puffs on my chest with tiny droplets of fat from the sandiest portions of my hourglass figure. Am I nervous? You bet. This type of reconstruction or tissue engineering or organ regeneration or whatever you want to call it may not be for everybody.

It may not even be for me. But you have to admit, it makes for an amazing story. A native of the Pacific Northwest, Diane Mapes has written hundreds of essays and articles on health, pop culture, dating, etc. Her work regularly appears on nbcnews. She blogs about breast cancer at www.

The University of Washington Alumni Magazine. Time stood still. The air was removed from my lungs. I could hear my heart beat pounding mercilessly loud through my chest. So each year, on that date, I experience every emotion all over again. Emotions that seem to have dissipated resurface, reminding me that I am always going to have this anniversary. There is the anniversary of the diagnosis, the anniversary of the surgery, the anniversary of completing grueling treatments, the anniversary of being told the cancer is gone and that you are in remission.

Each of these anniversaries is equally important and monumental to me — but there is something about the diagnosis date that grips my heart, makes tears flow, and brings me to my knees. The train was leaving the station whether I was prepared or not. There is sadness, residual fear, and memories of isolation. But there are also feelings of victory, joy, gratitude, and healing. Yes, it is a heavy day. However, it is also a day when I get to remind myself that I made it to the other side. It is an anniversary to be celebrated.

I acknowledge that I can allow myself to dance, to laugh, to cry should I choose, because it is my anniversary. The beautiful thing about anniversaries is that we get them every year. Same date, without fail.

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Being able to celebrate and mark this anniversary means I am alive. It means I am here, among the thriving. It means I have the chance to do with the day whatever I choose. I choose to bask in the gift of each day as it comes. The future feels promising. On this anniversary, I rocked my blinged-out warrior wings they are invisible wings that give me that survivor superpower swag. I will be home, with a glass of wine. My toast will be, YOLO. Living is what I plan to do.

Kai McGee October 09, pm. FB Twitter ellipsis More.