Breasts or Bust? : How Rolita Couture is Helping Me Bring Sexy Back Post-Breast Cancer
Posted on January 23 2020
My breast cancer diagnosis and the surgery that followed delivered a crushing blow to my feminine core. Having to overcome breast cancer has left me feeling more crippled than any injury I ever accumulated from decades of playing sports and nearly seven years of being chronically ill. Losing my breasts felt like giving up a large part of my womanhood; it tore a hole right through my identity. Coming to terms with this huge change has proved difficult, but as I heal more and more every day, I can see now that it is not as impossible as I’d believed it to be. With a bit of faith and a lot of grace I have weathered this storm as best as I can and I continue to work hard throughout this long and drawn out recovery process and I am eager and ready to prepare for my next surgery to finally receive my new breast implants and bookend the final stage of my cancer journey.
Before my breast cancer diagnosis, I had never viewed my breasts as the seat of feminine power within my body. But when the diagnosis finally came and it was time to make the gut wrenching decision of whether or not to give up my breasts for good, it felt like an impossible decision; to choose to divorce parts of myself felt so painful but in my soul I knew it was necessary. I was never someone who thought of myself as overtly feminine, though after my mastectomy I have never felt closer to those parts of myself, my sexuality, and my identity. As devastating as the loss was, the process of rebuilding and reshaping my new breasts has been incredibly liberating. I feel more in touch with my womanhood now than I ever have been.
My upcoming photo shoot with Rolita Couture marks the first time my photo will be taken post-op in an official capacity to be seen by the masses. It will also mark something even more important: the reclaiming of those parts of my identity, my womanhood, and my sexuality, that I feel were lost at some point while I have been struggling through this journey. I could not be prouder to be working with such an incredible brand that stands for and spreads such a wonderful message: that any body regardless of size, shape, color, or even gender, deserves to be seen, loved, and appreciated just as it is. In this day and age, we are all in such a hurry to alter things about ourselves, whether it comes due to Photoshop or through plastic surgery, or even just by trying to squeeze ourselves into boxes that we were never meant to fit into in the first place. I myself have been guilty of this in the past, and it is something I am ardently working on in the present.
My breast reconstruction process takes place in two stages. The first occurred simultaneously with my bilateral mastectomy; they put in tissue expanders while they did my first surgery. Over the course of the weeks and months following my mastectomy - once I had recovered enough - we began filling the tissue expanders with saline each week ranging from 50 to 100cc each breast. On top of all of this, I am also disabled and chronically ill. I suffer from multiple chronic illnesses, two of which are Ehlers Danlos Syndrome of the hyper-mobile variety, and POTS, or Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome. I also live every day, every hour, every minute in agony with burning nerve pain all over my body. I have had many surgeries, been hospitalized repeatedly, and have lost the past 6 1/2 years of my life to the aforementioned health issues. I share my story and my struggles online via social media, and, in doing that, I have found such overwhelming and incredible support and friendship. Not only that, but I have been lucky enough to have been granted the privilege and the opportunity to work with amazing brands like Rolita. In sharing my journey with those who will listen, I aim to bring greater visibility and representation to those who are disabled and/or chronically ill across all communities.
As the shoot draws closer, I have come to realize that my missing femininity is linked less to my breasts themselves as part of my physical body and more to my self esteem and body confidence as a whole. To tell the truth, I would most likely feel just as sexy during the shoot without breasts as I will feel with them. I cannot escape the nagging reminder that these breasts are not truly mine, and thus, not truly a part of me. So how can I let something that isn’t even a part of me impact my identity so heavily? How can a piece that was never part of my puzzle to begin with feel like the final missing link? There is not a single clear answer. I am enjoying having breasts back, don’t get me wrong, but they will never be the breasts I had before. The breasts that carried me through my adolescence and the toughest times of my life as I navigated the ups and downs of adulthood. The breasts that grew with me and stretched with me and traveled with me. I will never have those parts of myself back. But what Rolita is giving me is the opportunity to reclaim my body, and in doing so, my identity, and that is something that is priceless.
As I stand in front of the camera this week, I am going to choose to feel empowered as opposed to focusing on the heavy loss I still feel coiled deep within my chest. I am going to smile and move my sensual body because I can, and because it is mine. I am going to practice gratitude and self-love and I will even spark joy as I embark on this next chapter of true acceptance and continue to fight back against those forces that would rather see me fall. I will be surrounded by some of the strongest, most beautiful women in my community, and I cannot wait to lift them up as they have already - unbeknownst to them - lifted me up, although we have never met in person. I already know that this will be an incredible experience that I will remember for the rest of my days, and I cannot wait to share it with all of you.