by Eileen Kaplan
Would you go to a nude beach and present yourself if you had a singular or bi-lateral mastectomy?
How’s that subject food for thought? A person going through breast cancer diagnosis and treatment is brave and courageous. It is a nasty trip. You will not be ‘tiptoeing through the tulips.’ Everyone handles it in a different way. Even if you are brave and tough it takes a lot of inner strength and emotional training to be strong. Surgical scars, scar tissue, burn scars from radiation therapy, sore underarms from lymph node dissection, unable to raise your arm(s) above your head, sickness from the chemo, sickness from the meds you may have to take after your treatment (for 5 years) and then hoping and praying that this treatment works and you have a good chance of making it.
Partial mastectomy, take off one breast, take off both breasts, and then….reconstruction, is this for you? Some women go through it like a charm; others have issues all along the way. Implants, transflap, expanders to hold the “right places” for the implants that are to be filled a little every month. Or, the implants are put into your body the minute your breasts come off….
With all these possibilities of “the negative” can you pull the “rabbit out of the hat” and open the world to your scars? Many women emphatically do not want to talk about having had breast cancer. Many women are emotionally scarred for life. They can’t look in a mirror.
Then there are those who put up a bubble, turn negatives into positives, put on a smile and look up and say, yes, there is a “Can” in Cancer. Fight, be strong, you can cry, but then pull up your “bra straps” in the event you still have bras and walk on with your head high. ..So, when I saw the women at the nude beach, totally uninhibited, with one scar and one breast, the strength they had by being nude and saying to the world “I am a SURVIVOR!”
Would I go to a nude beach and “be nude.” (My husband wouldn’t go with me!) Yes, and with a beautiful mural tattooed across my chest. I would bare my soul and say, thank you God, I am alive and well and I am not afraid of who I am and what is left of me!
I am not only a survivor; I am a “thriver.’ Why am I a “thriver?” In my wildest dreams I would have never imagined that writing, “Laughter Is The Breast Medicine,” would have brought me to this place in life…from a bilateral mastectomy to a Keynote Speaker for Breast Cancer, an advocate for women’s health, a mentor to help people over the “bumps in the road,” and a humorist to make people laugh at this ugly disease called cancer. I am having the time of my life meeting people and carrying the message that there is life after breast cancer. If I can educate and save a breast, I have achieved one of my goals. Being healthy and a “thriver” enables me to do this.
Eileen Kaplan, Motivational Speaker & Humorist
Author of “Laughter Is the Breast Medicine”