This week I attended a Breast Reconstruction event at St. Joseph’s hospital. I had seen a poster on a bulletin board at the Juravinski Cancer Centre and signed up. I had no idea what to expect but given the fact that I am in the throws of reconstruction I decided it would be beneficial. The event ran from 4:30 to 7pm. When I arrived the lecture hall where the speakers would be was not yet open, but the lobby was set up like a mini tradeshow. There were booths displaying prosthetics, implants, lingerie….anything and everything that had to do with having a mastectomy. I realized as I walked around and visited the booths that this event was designed for women who had not yet undergone the surgery and were deciding whether to have reconstruction and if so what kind.
As I was standing waiting I heard a group of women talking. They were wondering about tissue expanders and what they were like. Being the “not so shy” person that I am, I stepped forward and said “I can tell you what they’re like. What would you like to know?”
For the next 20 minutes I was asked anything and everything about my diagnosis, surgery, treatments, reconstruction, recovery…the full gamete. I realized that I was a great source of knowledge for these women. I grabbed some paper and wrote down my blog url. “Please feel free to follow me and if you have any other questions send me a message. I’m more than happy to share.” They all thanked me very much and as I entered the lecture hall I was feeling really good about myself. I want to make a difference for other people dealing with this crazy disease and hoped that I had helped them.
The “lecture” by the visiting surgeons was very dry. A lot of statistics and medical diagrams… but nothing personal or “real.” I looked around at the faces of the women sitting around me and could see the blank stares. They were looking for a lot more or at least different types of information than statistics about breast cancer and reconstruction. I was starting to feel very disappointed until one of the surgeons said that after the lecture there was a “show and tell room.”. A what?!?! There was a room set up where ten women who had had a mastectomy be it single or double, would be available to answer any questions… and would be showing us the finished product! I know this must sound weird to some of you but as someone going through the reconstruction process, being able to talk to others and to see in person the results was incredibly exciting. The women were so confident and informative. We exchanged ” horror” stories of surgeries, complications and accomplishments. We laughed and bonded and I came away feeling so inspired by the strength of these women and all they had to share. I learned first hand that there will eventually be an end to this journey. It will still be probably another year before all is said and done but there will be an end. In the meantime I will keep sharing in hopes that I too can help someone in their journey.
President of As You Like It Marketing & Communications Inc. Award winning speaker and author. Breast cancer fighter and blogger. I’m sharing my journey…the good, the bad and the ugly. Hoping to help anyone else that has been touched by breast cancer be it you or someone you know or love.