When I was going through the process of deciding to have surgery, I always tried to think ahead. One of the things I noticed was I’d have to give up a lot of things I love before and after surgery: red wine, green tea, garlic, high impact activity like SoulCycle and hot yoga. Oh, and alcohol! Me? Giving up alcohol? That’s like asking a dolphin to not swim.
A lot of people think I’m going crazy and eating whatever I want since it’s going to be taken out later but I’ve made a point of being healthy, cutting out alcohol and having lots of protein. I even hired a nutritionist to help with my diet and in 3 weeks I’ve lost 3 lbs. I feel great! Heather has been simply awesome and is so motivating. She has the most incredible energy and very inspirational. During one of our first coaching calls, she said a quote that really struck a chord, “To gain anything in life, we have to be willing to lose things. To create a new life requires losing your old.” It didn’t just resonate with things like eliminating greasy food and sugar but also with giving up my breasts so I can gain a new life with peace of mind.
So, the party. How’d that happen? If you ever watched “Sex & the City,” there’s an episode where Carrie is shamed by a married friend for her single-girl lifestyle choices. Carrie points out she celebrates and invests in the relationships, weddings, baby showers, etc. of her married friends while the single girls and non-mothers (like me) don’t get our moments to receive the same. And then I realized something (haha…see what I did there?), my decision to have a mastectomy and breast reconstruction is a milestone to celebrate. When I asked two of my dear and supportive friends if they’d throw a party for me, they didn’t hesitate to say “Yaaaaas!”
Maybe this sounds crass or dirty but it wasn’t. I blame society for over-sexualizing something that is beautiful, natural and meant for nourishment. This is my journey and I decide the experiences regarding my decision. My shower was about celebrating taking control of my body and living your best life now. There are so many unknowns and I wanted a big hurrah before everything changes. I don’t know how I’ll be able to tolerate the pain and recovery. I don’t know how I’ll react when I see my new breasts. I don’t know what my body will look like in a few months. I don’t know how long it will take me to feel normal again. For me, a person who likes routine, staying active and planning, all this is unsettling. I always try to approach things that scare me with an open mind and a sense of humor so a themed-party made sense. I know how lucky I am I get to have fun with my decision because I’m not sick and other women may not be as fortunate. While I’m scared, I don’t want to be sad.
For the party, I wanted fun. I wanted to dance. To not worry. To let loose in the comfort and safety of people I love. And to drink just one more time! It will be a while before I can have alcohol again.
On a normal day, I dress casual and fairly covered up. For the party I wore a dress my friends call my “Kim Kardashian” outfit because it’s form-fitting and shows off my curves. I told the girls to dress up and play up their chests! We were celebrating ALL boobs! I invited people but didn’t know who would come. Austin had an unexpected cold-front so it was freezing and the forecast called for rain. But the door kept opening and in kept popping in faces of people that are so special to me. My former roommate came in from Dallas. Friends from undergrad and grad school showed up. Work friends. Former work friends. Friends from my social circle in Austin. Friends I see weekly and friends I haven’t seen in years.
You probably see the bathroom selfie. I know it’s cliche but it was a special moment. I had a breakdown during the party as I was going through my camera roll and noticed one photo in particular. I looked so damn happy in it because I realized I am; I’m the happiest I’ve been in a really long time. To see that glow on my face and smile got me. Then I looked up and I saw everyone in room. I pride myself on having many circles of friends from different areas of my life. To see these circles intertwine and everyone laughing, talking and having fun…it was overwhelming and I was overcome with so much emotion. It happened so fast that I couldn’t have stopped it even if I tried – I started sobbing. One of the girls grabbed me and took me to the bathroom. Then several friends rushed in when they saw me crying. “What’s wrong? Is she okay? What happened? Is she having a panic attack?” Me, blubbering: “I’m s-so h-happy! Look at this p-picture! Look how ha-happy I look!” They were relieved and starting wiping my tears. “Okay, it’s a happy cry but you’re ruining your make-up.” They listened to me say I was scared, said they loved me and it would all be okay. Once I calmed down, they fixed my face up so I could return to the party. But first we took the picture. Because that’s what friends do – they’re strong for you and carry you when you have your weak moments.
It was a wonderful celebration and my friends even asked to have another party when I get my new boobs. It was two days ago and I’m still smiling – and I’m positive I’ll smile any time I think about it for the rest of my life. I let my friends motorboat me. I had an old school hip-hop/R&B playlist we jammed to all night. I danced on the sofa. I took a lot of pictures. There were squishy boobs we kept tossing around and taking pics with. I drank from a pink cup with 36D written on it (my future bra size). I drank vodka (my favorite) and enjoyed it since it would be my last for a while. The party was everything I wanted and more. I remember most of it. Apparently I gave a speech that I don’t remember giving (haha).
Also something I realized the next day, while I knew nearly everyone there, a few friends brought along their friends who didn’t know me. I didn’t mind guests at all. We had plenty to drink and the more the merrier! But I couldn’t help but wonder (I did it again!) what they thought went they walked in and saw boobs everywhere. Like, “Huh? What is going on? What are we celebrating? ”
I don’t know what’s ahead for me but I know that I’m excited about it. It feels like the beginning of something great. The start of a new path and gaining a new chapter in my life. And most importantly, I know that I have a whole lot of people behind me to get me through it. No one should ever go through a process like this without strong and amazing people at their side.