Do you still have Cleavage with just one breast? is the title of my book and was a dark question I asked myself. I lost my breast when I was pregnant and longed to breast feed. I lost my breast after years of hating the size and shape of them. Seeing a span of skin and my thumping heart underneath, I felt sorry for all the things I wasn’t and couldn’t do.
Self-pity was where I sat in for a long time. There was so much to feel sorry for. Looking back, I wish I’d just acknowledged my sorrow – looked into its gloomy eyes and saw it. Instead I squirmed away. This denial of my own pain meant it buried deep into me and came out in most human transactions and became a way of being. My husband recommended a personal coach – I was aghast! What ask for help?!?! It took me three years to get the courage to call. Weeks to join in. And then, with the first step came the slow unravelling.
A pivotal moment was when I was in a group coaching and I was making a speech. I don’t remember the topic but I remember feeling self-righteous about something. Probably why I deserve to feel self-pity. After I’d done, the coach leading the group said “Are you done? Are you over yourself yet?” Well – what a punch! Over the course of a year she taught me to shift my being from pity to powerful. Now I can do this in an instant! Like my soul’s personal superhero – in a whoosh – I shift from can’t to can, from self-pity to adoration. It took awareness, patience and large smearing’s of what I like to call self-love salve. Now, I love myself, my scars, failings and fantasticness.
Eight years after diagnosis, I threw myself a Nipple Party to mark the application of my nipple tattoos. My reconstructed breasts are museum pieces. They have no feeling, only form and they hang like misshapen plums from my chest wall. And I love them. My nipple tattoos provide a focal point to look at – they are icing on my tasty cakes! My Nipple Party gave me a moment of joy in a craptastic experience and brought people I love together. Find a reason to celebrate yourself! Celebrate you and all your lovely ugliness.
Dr. Sue Lawrence is author of “Do You Still Have Cleavage with Just One Breast?” It’s her raw un-edited journal entries from recounting her journey through breast cancer while pregnant. If you want to hear self-pity – read this book!Her book was her way of getting over herself, taking herself seriously and recognizing herself as the divine being she is. She works in health policy and evaluation specializing in vulnerable populations.