Mia’s bilateral mastectomy was in 2007, and mine was in 2010. Numerous times since then, we’ve both had people say to us, “Can’t you just get over it?”, and other similar comments. We know there are women both in treatment and post-treatment that hear these same words every single day. We know words like that can cause a woman shame due to her wondering why she isn’t ‘over it’ already. And that has to stop. Women (and men) who are faced with the reality of a breast cancer diagnosis already have enough worry and fear on their plates, they don’t need anyone – inner circle or acquaintance – adding doubt into that equation.
We recently participated in The Grace Project.
Charise Isis uses her lens to tell the story of women who have undergone mastectomy surgeries in order to survive breast cancer. Leading up to the photo shoot we both felt a lot of doubt about going through with it, because of shame we both carried from things people who are supposed to be in our inner circles said to us. Things that have left permanent scars on both our hearts. Leaning on one another, we mustered up the courage to bare our scars, because we knew that not only would it be healing for our own souls, but it would be a statement to the sisters who have walked this road already and those who will – sadly – have to walk this road behind us.
A statement that says, “You are not alone.”
In that moment of bearing our external scars so that the story of the internal scars we carry could be told, something powerful happened in both of our souls. The bondage of years of pain and hurt and fear and disappointment was released. It was such a powerful exercise on the road to self-love, healing, and acceptance of all that has changed in our lives.
Unfortunately, both of us have had our decisions to participate in the photo shoot be met with criticism. Hurtful criticism from some of our so-called ‘inner circle’, and as we’ve discussed this with other women who are standing in the same place that we are, we’ve found that many of them have had similar experiences.
One of our friends said it best when she said,
“If friends and family won’t allow themselves to understand because they are choosing to lead with ego, it may be healthiest for you at this time to create a safe space for yourself. We are healing. Healing requires our energy. If we are leaking energy because those around us are stuck in their own egos, it’s not helpful for us at this vulnerable time….”
Out of these experiences, and many more, our website (www.bullshitbreastcancer.com) was formed.
A safe place for women to come together, to discuss their real experience, to know they aren’t alone, and to find some healing
We truly believe that a portion of healing comes from finding your tribe. The tribe of women (and men) who have walked down the same road, and even though there are differences in all of our stories, we all have the ability to say, “I get it, because me too!” I can’t tell you how many times I’m dealing with anxiety, pain fatigue, nausea, exhaustion, etc from my current treatment regime and having this tribe of women who ‘get it’ and give me pep talks has talked me down off of a ledge.
For me, personally, when I knew I was facing a bilateral mastectomy – at the age of 28 – I searched and searched the internet for pictures of women my age who had undergone a mastectomy. I wanted to see their results. But I couldn’t find any. And now, almost 8 years later, I feel like there is still so much hush-hush when it comes to cancer. The media portrayal is a pretty pink ribbon, a woman with a headscarf sitting in a board meeting, women doing walks, life going on without much of a glitch…and the fact of the matter is, that just is not the truth for so many of us. So, when it isn’t, a lot of us find ourselves holding another stick for us to beat ourselves up with.
As women (and men) – really as human beings – we belong to one another
It’s our responsibility to stand up and say, “This is what this REALLY is.” It’s not a pink ribbon. It’s pain, it’s fear, it’s heartache, it’s surgeries (oftentimes multiple), it’s having to have tough conversations with your children, it’s brokenness, it’s fatigue, and so much more. And it’s our responsibility to bring these issues to light, to open up the dialect about what breast cancer really looks like, to lead with compassion for others and just as importantly ourselves. With statistics showing us that 1 in 8 women will get breast cancer, and 1 in 3 of them with go on to metastasize, it’s crucial that this conversation be brought to the forefront for all of us.
That’s really what Bullshit Breast Cancer is all about.
To remind women of their strength. To let them know that they are beautiful. To let them know that they will never be alone. That their courage is admired, and the voice they are lending is heard loud and clear. They are selfless and they are powerful. As women – as fellow thrivers – we stand with them! To find light when they feel darkness. To show them the way when they feel lost.
We are here to validate any emotion that they feel. And to ALWAYS remind them, they are a HERO!
Sisters – Although many will never know the struggle, we are here to remind you of your strength. To let you know that you are beautiful. To let you know that you will never be alone. Your courage is admired, and the voice you are lending is heard loud and clear. You are selfless and you are powerful. As women – as fellow thrivers – we stand with you! To find light when you feel darkness. To show you the way when you feel lost.
We are here to validate any emotion that you feel. And to ALWAYS remind you, you are a HERO!