Nothing can ever prepare you for the shock of seeing yourself for the first time after having your breasts removed. Standing in front of the mirror slowly removing the bandages knowing that the breasts that you had for 50 years are not going to be there.
And even more so you can never be prepared for having your eight year old son standing there with you, looking on with wonder. However, there he was seeing my chest with stitches going across each side where there once was a breast and nipple. And, out of the mouths of babes as they say, he said, “Mom, are they going to put the dots back on?”
Through my vulnerability and willingness to bare all, I had the opportunity to teach a very valuable lesson. Of course you have to know your own child and what they are capable of taking on and seeing. But for me, here was a great opportunity to explain to Jack the difference between inner vs. outer beauty.
Dots or no dots, I was able to share with Jack that one’s values are not based on appearances. That we are all perfect, whole, and complete no matter what happens to us.
So what I did was share a story with Jack that a friend had told me, about two puppies. I had him visualize two beautiful lab puppies and then asked him, “Which one has more value?” Then I had him visualize the same puppies but with one of them having a leg missing. And then asked, “Now which one has more value?” Of course he said, “They both still have the same value, Mom.”
While I did go on to have my dots put back on, Jack will always have that lesson that outer appearance isn’t as meaningful as inner beauty. And, that it is also ok if you do want the dots back on. Either way, you are still the same person on the inside.
I hope to inspire others to be vulnerable and raw with their children. That we can teach our children that life brings you challenges. And, it’s how we choose to respond to it, that defines us in the end.
I chose courage and perseverance throughout my battle with breast cancer. I also recited to myself over and over the truth that I was still the same person in the end.
What we teach our children is how we choose to handle the challenges in life…. It can either come from fear and anger, or acceptance and love.
If we allow ourselves to be in a vulnerable position as I was with my son looking at my breasts, there are lessons to be learned that can transform our lives. That the more I allow myself to be vulnerable, the more courage I seem to find.
It is in this raw state that answers seem to come to me that might help others as well as myself. This is the legacy I want to pass on to my son.