May 18

May 18, 2016

A wise man once said, ‘Now this is a story all about how my life got flipped turned upside down.’ He may have been speaking about how to become a suburban prince, but if I am to pirate this illustrious quote for myself, it would be about the day I had my mastectomy.

Two years ago today, my breasts took a journey to a magical place called, ‘medical waste.’

Oh how naive I was about the life that was to befall me. I was operating in, ‘stay alive mode.’ I was told I had cancer in a part of my body and all I could think about was having that part of my body removed. There was no way I would be able to foresee what, good and bad, would come from this simple melon-balling out of my breast tissue.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I would 100% do it again. Like, duh, BYE CANCER. But gosh darn do a shit-ton of things trickle down from this surgery. I suppose I was lucky in a way to have the surgery first before any other treatments, before I was indoctrinated into the world of breast cancer. Had I really known all that comes with the decision to have a mastectomy, I wouldn’t have looked so rosy here:

This picture says, ‘yeah! A mastectomy sounds fun!’
Being rolled to my breast amputation, it looks like I am just casually bossing Joe around. De rigueur.

I am not sure I have ever shared the below photos before. They are intense. I remember waking up and immediately looking down to see the carnage. I was pleasantly surprised to find that they still looked like breasts and there wasn’t much gore (that I could see from my vantage point). From below and from the sides it was grotesque.

Though unconscious, please note my dainty pose. I am a LADY goddammit.

This photo may well be the worst of them. My mom looks like she is giving me the last rites and Joe looks like he is about to crumble. I look, well, not alive. You can tell the situation was dire because if I was conscious, there would not be two cookies sitting in front of me. That shizz would be crumbs.

Yes I have a stuffed bunny. Her name is Sophia June and she is from Cedarburg Wisconsin. Please treat her with respect.

Clearly someone was out to get me by putting my drugged-up body in this outfit. I think there is a chance I was posed like this and told to put my thumbs up in the same way captors tell hostages to look happy in photos they release to the media.

If you ever see a woman dressed like this, please help her.

Once I got home, and by home, I mean to my mom’s house where I would basically live for the rest of the summer throughout more surgeries and chemo, this was my new reality. Drains tucked in, recliner, eye mask, pills by my side and shrouded by my fav blanket. Not gonna lie though, I look kinda glamorous here, no?

The most gorgeous roses from my friend Tom Dwyer who is otherwise known as “Shoes”. Long story.

May 18, 2017: 

How did we get here? This was certainly a tangent I couldn’t have seen coming.

Exactly one year after my mastectomy, I was getting an elaborate tattoo by David Allen, being filmed by a documentary crew and had blonde hair.

Remember when I said at the beginning of this that I was naive? This chick you see below is no longer naive. She has seen some THINGS. And you know what? She is better for it.

The brilliant Dana Kupper wielding the camera. You must see GRACE the documentary to see her artistry.

You are saying to yourself, ‘better for it?! How could someone be better for having had cancer?!’

Here is short list of things that cancer has taken from me:

  • Feeling, working breasts
  • The ability to exercise or fly without a lymphedema sleeve
  • My eyebrows
  • The ability to have blood drawn or blood pressure taken on one arm
  • A night’s sleep without sweating through my jam-jams

Here is a longer list of things cancer has given to me:

  • Incredible perspective
  • A deeper bond and relationship with my sister that I cherish
  • Gravity defying breasts
  • A documentary film that captures my entire family for posterity
  • A new purpose of advocacy
  • A bag of prescription pills to save for a rainy day
  • The ability to connect with other survivors and survivor-adjacents
  • A deeper understanding of my time on this earth
  • Compassion
  • A renewed sense of maintaining my health
  • The knowledge that someday when I am done with ponytails, I look amazing with a short platinum mohawk
  • My children have empathetic skills beyond their young ages
  • A dope-ass tattoo
  • An excuse for almost anything
  • Hope

May 18, 2018:

Here I am today. I am resilient. I am strong. I am healthy. I feel loved and I am better able to give love.

Are there craptastic detours to cancertown? Obvs. But you know what? I wouldn’t change a thing.

2 Comments Add yours

  1. Judy says:

    Beautiful post brought me to tears because I love you so much.


  2. Kate Cloud says:

    Darling Grace, you rock. 😘


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