4 years on – progress

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My art practise continues. I’ve taken up ceramics now too, and I love it!

I’ve hesitated about writing this post, because I think it might be boring for some long time readers. But then I think that maybe by reading it, it will help someone to make a decision about their options, or help someone to be better informed about what to expect in the healing process, so I’m writing this with them in mind.

4 years on from the first major surgery, here’s how my body is faring…. in a word, it is doing well! The pressure I’ve felt on my abdomen is way less, my torso no longer has that twisted feeling. It is much, much better! It does still feel slightly tight. I don’t have feeling on a good portion of my stomach or any part of my breasts. I can’t feel anything that touches those areas, but I can feel pressure. Maybe the healing happens from the inside out, so you can’t feel anything on the surface, but inside, new nerves are growing and mending. That’s what I hope anyway!

Appearance wise, the scars are well faded. You can still see them, but they are fine white lines. There are a few ridges around the scars but nothing too worrying. I still can’t wear a proper bra, as they feel too uncomfortable, so I stick to light crop tops or a maternity bra, which is softer than a regular bra. You can find some nice ones nowadays!

Other than that, my breasts look great, probably better than pre surgery. They are fuller and rounder than before, my stomach is flatter. I have helped the healing process along with regular exersize sessions with a personal trainer a couple of times a week this past 12 months. That has helped strengthen my core, regain flexibility and take off any excess weight. So, appearance wise, I am very happy with the outcome. My surgeon, James, did a fantastic job.

Would I make this choice again? Definitely. It’s hard but it’s worth it. I read on the weekend that some implants (perhaps only ones used for cosmetic breast surgery?) are causing cancer. I am relieved I don’t have to worry about any of those sorts of complications or future surgery. It always felt right for me to go with the option where I used my own tissue to rebuild my breasts. Others will make the decision that feels right to them. I am fortunate to have been able to afford the more invasive surgery too.

In an emotional sense, I am still coming to terms with all the other unexpected changes in my life. I don’t think I have any lingering or unresolved emotion about the surgery. If I ever start a new relationship, I am sure there will be a few “issues” in trusting someone, physically and emotionally again, but I’ll deal with that if and when it happens. It just takes time, and a willingness to deal with it all I suppose.

I love the new place where I live in Queensland. Every morning I wake up and say, “thank you God” for the peaceful, beautiful place I live. I love being able to hear the sounds of the waves outside my window. (Who knew it was so soothing?!) I miss seeing my children every day but they are well settled in new homes in Sydney with their friends (and loving it!). We see each other often with flights back and forth. I love having them to stay. It is great to spend good quality time with them and we stay well connected in between visits (hooray for the iphone!).

I am reading a book about a man who loses his girlfriend at the same time their first child is born, “In every moment we are still alive”. It speaks of another man who is asked, following the death of his son, “The grief you are feeling now, would you exchange it for never having known Johannes at all?” It is a good question to ask yourself after a loss I think. Would you take the pain away, if it meant never having had the experience of love in the first place? Better to have loved and lost, than never to have loved at all. True. The gain is worth the pain. I think that about my surgery too – very hard to do but WAY better than having cancer or living with the fear of it. Way better.

Sending love to all readers – those I know and those I don’t. If you are considering this surgery I send you special love. If you know someone about to go through it, or who has been through it, thank you for taking the time to learn about it. I hope it helps inform your decisions and expectations.

The healing continues …

IMG_2208.jpgIt’s now two and a half years since my first surgery. Time for an update on my body’s healing process. I feel like long time readers of my blog must be thinking, “Isn’t she over all of that YET?!” Don’t worry, I feel like that too! One day I hope there will be nothing to report on my body front.

One of the main reasons I set up this blog was to share my story with those who may be contemplating, or travelling, a similar path, and to help those around them to understand what it is like to have this surgery. What I’d mainly like people to know (and what I wish I’d known myself!) is that it just takes a really long time to heal. It DOES get better, very slowly but surely. And there are things you can do to ensure you heal as best you can.

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With love

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Just a quick post to say thank you for all the love that has been sent my way. All kind thoughts and gestures are well received!

I’ll be spending Christmas with Holly and Tom in Sunshine Beach and I suppose it will feel a bit strange to be the three of us, not the four of us. We’ll celebrate the many good things we’ve shared as a family and a renewed hope for good times together in the future. That’s what I figure it’s all about from here on in – making happy memories together.

In myself, I am feeling a bit lighter and a little more confident as I head in to the new year. Something in me has shifted in recent weeks. I’m not cartwheeling around with joy, but at least feel like I’m headed in the right direction! I’m planning to enrol in a visual arts course up here on the Sunshine Coast to start in the new year. Something lovely and creative to look forward to as we head into 2016. I am determined that my life will be both happy and creative going forward and I figure that will tick both boxes!

Wishing you all a merry Christmas and happy, healthy new year.

Love to all

Sarah
xo

Love hurts

FullSizeRender[6]While I started writing this blog with a focus my breast surgery, I have also felt compelled to be honest in sharing other big things that are going on in my life too. I started writing this piece some months ago and have not felt ready to post it until now.

It is with a very sad heart that I share with you the news that my marriage of 26 years has fallen apart, and I am now separated from my husband. The past few years have been so hard, but I’ve not felt it appropriate to share what was going on between us, being as it is, a private matter involving the thoughts and feelings of two people. We have been in counseling for some time to help bring us closer together. Of course, I had hoped that everything would be resolved between us, with no need to share this sorry news. We are both deeply saddened with this outcome.

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Time heals

black daisiesTwo years today since my double mastectomy and breast reconstruction surgery, so this is just a quick post on how my body is feeling now.

Overall, I have to say, I feel progress is being made. Very slowly, but very surely! My breasts feel much better. Fewer twinges, not so heavy and feel much softer – almost like the real deal! From the outside, you can barely see any breast scars and I am really pleased with the shape (thank you James!) The internal scarring and stiffness in my abdominal area is also improving. Continue reading

Peace for our Lou

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Today I am up in Sunshine Beach with my sister Bec, thinking of our beautiful Lou, who left this life two years ago today. It is a rainy old day, and we can feel Lou saying “No rush, just go gently, stay inside and rest, have long chats and good laughs together”, just as we both used to do with her, our special sister and dear friend.

To honour Lou today, I am sharing some of her photography, taken in her beloved Bali, and one of her beautiful, gentle poems.

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How does it feel? – from the inside, looking out

Elle Magazine - USA - June 2015

Elle Magazine – USA – June 2015

This is a post to mark one year since my second reconstructive breast surgery in June last year. I wasn’t going to post anything at all, since there is not much change to report with my body, other than the continuing VERY slow progress of healing. I’m determined that it’s not finished yet, but we will see!

However, today I was reading a great series of articles in the June 2015 USA edition of Elle magazine about women and their breasts and how they feel about them – whether healthy, not healthy, big, small, happy, unhappy or an assortment of other feelings. If you are reading my blog because of your interest in my breast surgery, or someone close to you, then it is worth tracking down the issue.

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Moving on up!

IMG_8900This year I am doing something really special for myself. I’m spending lots of time in beautiful Noosa in Queensland, on the Sunshine Coast of Australia. I’ve always loved it, and we’ve holidayed there quite often over the years. And of course, we spent so much time in Noosa with my sister Martha (who had lived there for ten years) in the months before she passed away. Since then, I have discovered and grown to love Sunshine Beach up there. It’s where we scattered Martha’s ashes because it is the beach that she really loved. I scattered part of Lou’s ashes there too. It comforts me to think of my two sisters being together. I’ve found that a walk on that beautiful beach, at the beginning or end of the day is really peaceful and uplifting to me.

When I was up in Sunshine Beach this past December, as I have been on each of Martha’s anniversaries, I saw that the townhouse/apartment behind the place I usually stay in was up for permanent rental. In the split second that I saw the “to let” sign, something in me said to myself “I am going to live and paint there!” I’d had no thought of anything like that before, and it took a while to make sense for me. I just knew I needed to be there and spend some quiet time on my own. I’ve listened to my heart, trusted my vibe, done what my wise self was telling me: use this time to explore my creative self in peaceful solitude and a beautiful place that I love. Continue reading

The body beautiful – 18 months on

FullSizeRender[1]I said I’d update on where I’m at with my healing progress six months ago, so here’s the latest on my post surgery body, 18 months after my double mastectomy and muscle sparing TRAM reconstruction surgery.

Overall, I’d say I’m progressing well. I’m still really conscious of my tight stomach and numb torso each day, but it is WAY better than it was. The stiffness is less, the discomfort is reduced, my general feeling of well being has much improved. Still a way to go, but I definitely feel like I am “getting there”.

I had my final check up with James, my plastic surgeon last week. He is really pleased with my physical progress. I didn’t expect to, but I cried when he asked me, sincerely and kindly, how I feel about the breast surgery now. It just brings up so much sadness for me. As James says, I’m healing well on the outside, but have a way to go on the inside.

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Happy 50th birthday to my lovely brother, Luke

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Me with Luke, 2014

January 1 is an important day in my family, because it marks our twin sister and brother, Martha’s and Luke’s birthday and this year is an extra special one, being their 50th birthday.

We knew for some time that, with her breast cancer, Martha was not likely to reach 50. And in her personality, she always seemed so young at heart, that really, it was hard to ever imagine her being “middle aged”. Today we know she is upstairs in heaven, happy and enjoying being in the “50 club” together with Lou, who, at just 11 months older, would still be 50 too!

That leaves Martha’s special twin brother, Luke to fly the 50 flag here on earth. As the years go on, I come to appreciate more and more that I have some really quite exceptional people in my family, and Luke is certainly one of those, in so many ways. He is a superb brother. Being the only boy amongst his seven sisters I think has helped him be an open hearted and loving communicator! He is so well loved by us all.

As a tribute to the wonderful person that he is, I put together this clip, as a snapshot of his life so far, and finished with some messages of love from all his family here in Australia.

Happy birthday Luke! Keep being the special person that you are. I send you love, hugs and warm wishes for happiness in your heart, each and every day for the next fifty!

xxooxx

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