Frankenboob: The Sequel

This morning I was able to take the dressings off the three incision revisions. In my vast surgical experience I’ve decided removing tape is the worst “procedure” there is. Next time I’m throwing back a shot of whiskey and gnawing on a leather strap.

I found myself on the brink of dangerous territory as I looked at the doctor’s handiwork. It would have been so easy for me to go down that path. In fact I took a couple steps in that direction. I know I’ve said I don’t expect perfection and I really don’t. Why would I need perfection anyway? As I’ve stated time and again, I gave up my nude modeling career years ago.

However, knowing that in my head and believing it in my heart are two different things when I see the blatant evidence of the disease. And I suppose that’s the problem. Not so much the fact my left breast is still misshapen, though not as much as before, or the fact my chest is just a series of scars – they will fade with time. But what all those imperfections remind me of.

And once you start hanging the streamers and blowing up the balloons you’re only a cake and some punch away from an all-out pity party. Without any effort on a good day I can let myself become depressed about such superficial things: the scars all over my torso that nobody outside of the medical profession and Todd will ever see; the 30+ pounds brought on by different medications that seems nearly impossible to budge; two rounds of menopause, including hot flashes and night sweats. And those thoughts lead to wondering what the last two-and-a-half years would have been like if I’d never had cancer.

It doesn’t take much to trigger the melancholy. A hot flash, the feeling of my still-swollen tongue as it pushes against my teeth, waking up in the middle of the night because I don’t feel quite right… Even something as ridiculous as looking at a woman on TV or in a magazine in a low cut dress or bikini that I would never wear anyway, but knowing no matter how good of shape I’m in I’ll never be able to wear anything like that even if I was inclined to because of my scars.

However, this morning as I looked at the raw, bruised revisions and began wishing for a normal looking body, I decided to pop the balloons and tear down the streamers. I must have missed a couple because I’ve been in a bit of a funk today, but it could have been so much worse.

I gave everything to God two-and-a-half years ago and He was ever faithful to bring me through the most difficult period I’ve ever known. Why don’t I give him this small thing in comparison? It’s not like I’m new to the peace and comfort and joy He gives so freely. I’d already experienced all that long before my diagnosis and was overwhelmed with it when I needed it most. So what’s my deal?

My deal is that I’ve taken my focus off Jesus and put it on my physical issues. The things I’m struggling with are so minor compared to what I’ve been through so I decide to just manage them myself. Stupid, stupid girl. I know better. I really do. But it’s time to start walking the walk, not just talking the talk.

I’m going to try to give everything to God again. That’s not to say I won’t still whine now and then. Heck, that’s part of my charm! I also know I’ll still get the blahs. God may be bigger than anything, but I am still human.

We’ll see how I’m doing on Saturday when I remove the rest of the dressings!

23 Comments

  1. beans on December 6, 2007 at 11:37 pm

    Sometimes we all need a good whine-but I like that you are trying to focus on God and what he can do for you. That is very hard for me to do, but he knows we all struggle-even you((((jen))))

  2. Becky on December 7, 2007 at 1:18 am

    It’s perfectly understandable from the human standpoint to feel as you do, and to throw pity-parties and get whiney. I would do the same in your circumstances. (What am I saying, I do anyway!!) We all do. But you’re exactly right, it’s where our focus is. If it’s on the Lord, the author and perfecter of our faith…things will all fall into place and we’ll sense that peace and comfort and joy in the midst of our life challenges. However, if it’s misplaced, just like Peter, we’ll sink into the waves.Every time you mention the scarring, I think of what the author Laura Jensen Walker’s hubby said in the back of her book, “Reconstructing Natalie”. When she went through breast cancer, he kissed her masectomy scars and said, “These scars mean that you’re still here with me.” I get so choked up by the love in those words. Here she was feeling so unlovable (it wasn’t long after her late in life wedding as I recall) and unattractive, but that didn’t matter one whit to him…that she was there with him was what mattered most to him.Jenster, in much the same way, your family, friends and blog buddies are thankful for those scars, too, because you are still with us…ministering in ways you may never know this side of eternity. You are a blessing, and I have no doubt will continue to be once your book is published and you make the talk-show rounds to talk with Oprah and Ellen… ;0) I’m dreaming big for you, Jenster!

  3. lahdeedah on December 7, 2007 at 1:48 am

    You know, Jen, I love reading your posts because you explore the absurd but you also seek the truth. And the truth is you’re beautiful. It makes sense you feel disappointed. And I hope you kept the streamers and balloons up long enough (maybe even took a bite of cake or a sip of punch) to really feel what you gotta feel. But I also see that you (like my friend Sam) have this amazing faith and that it lifts you up when you’ve had enough of this world.I so know what you’re going through. It is agonizingly hard to stay focused on what truly matters. I have all kinds of faith in you, though. I’ve only “known” you a short while, but I sense your strength and courage. And they’re as big as your humor and compassion.Much love,Jill

  4. His Girl on December 7, 2007 at 3:47 am

    This sweet, honest, beautiful post made me cry tonight. I can’t know how you feel specifically with regards to your situation, but I so often get frustrated with myself when I take my eyes off of Him. I love that His mercies are new every morning and that I can trust that no matter how big my pity party is today, tomorrow I’ll wake up and have the chance to start all over again. I’ll be praying that you succeed with you re-focus… thank you for sharing with us.

  5. Shauna on December 7, 2007 at 4:12 am

    Jenster, this post made me laugh and cry as only you can do. You handle the blahs with your own unique sense of humour. You can laugh and cry at yourself. It’s truly beautiful to catch a glimpse of your heart. And you know what? You’re trying, through your human-ness, to put your faith in your Father. That’s all He asks of us. To keep trying, moment by moment, step by step. You got out of the boat. And you know something? When you glance away, when you start to sink, He’ll be right there to catch you, too. To reach out His hand and help you back up on the waves. :-)You are such an example to those who know you. You share your experience with a candidness that is refreshing. You don’t cover the scars (emotional and spiritual) and it’s a blessing and a challenge to others. You have opened my eyes and heart to the struggles of the women around me who are suffering or recovering from breast cancer. *sending you chocolate and whiskey*

  6. Shauna on December 7, 2007 at 4:16 am

    Okay, okay. I have a little confession. While I cried through most of this post, when I reached the end, the first thing I thought was, “Sheesh, for all you’ve gone through, the least they could do is give you a nice set of Hooter’s knockers.”*hanging head in shame and embarrasment*

  7. Jenster on December 7, 2007 at 8:38 am

    Boy am I feeling the love! You ladies are awesome. :o)Becky – Todd did the exact same thing that Laura Jensen Walker’s husband did. It was a powerful moment in my life. I sobbed – not because it made me sad but because it was overwhelming evidence of the depth of his love. *sigh*Jill – I didn’t have time for the party, but I’ve kept the streamers and balloons for another day when I do. :o)Shauna – “Sheesh, for all you’ve gone through, the least they could do is give you a nice set of Hooter’s knockers.”I KNOW!! That’s what I’m talkin’ about!!

  8. KT on December 7, 2007 at 9:56 am

    Hi Jenster, I’ve always said there’s nothing like a good whine and/or vent to help get over something. Sometimes you just need to let it all out, even if it means popping every balloon and ripping those streamers into shreds while you scream and cry and get it all out. Then you can use the time spent cleaning up the mess to clear your head and think about how to move on. It sounds like you’ve already done that and know what to do from here! You are such a brave person, I know you hear that all the time, but to get through the surgeries and the reconstruction is no small feat. I am fairly new to Bible study, though I have had a Bible since 3rd grade I hardly opened it, but one night after chemo last year I discovered Isaiah 40, mainly verses 29-31. It became my “fight song” through this ordeal. I’m sure you have a fight song of your own. (I hope I don’t sound preachy. I was shooting for encouraging. You must know you are inspiring for me and for so many people, as you can tell by the comments here on your blog.)Take care, Katie

  9. Terri on December 7, 2007 at 10:33 am

    You’ve done it to me again… left me wondering “who is this person and how is she related to me?” I read your posts and see the strength, faith, wisdom, maturity, humor, insert other positive description and think this can’t be MY sister. MY sister is that funny little girl! I am consistently reminded that you’ve grown into a very special woman. I listened to some great preaching recently, and the “tag line” so to speak was Keep your eye on the Vertical, not the Horizontal. Keep your eyes on God, not the world. Easy to say, hard to do. So many times, we are able to let God be the bridge over the huge river, but decide to cross the creek ourself, and end up falling in the water. Throughout this “journey”, I have seen you crossing the bridge, and only stopping to dip your toe (sometimes the whole foot) in the creek on occasion.The next time you need a party, give a shout. We’ll help you hang the streamers and then help pop the balloons.

  10. Dev on December 7, 2007 at 11:13 am

    Hey Jen ~ You continue to inspire me each and everyday.

  11. April on December 7, 2007 at 12:54 pm

    Oh Friend…I really appreciate how transparent you are. We are human and we struggle and these trials are there to make us look to Christ. And the most encouraging part is that you are looking to Him. I am sure the temptation will not end today to have that pity party. In the meantime know that I am encouraged by how you have handled yourself through it all. I have prayed for you.I often wonder how you can make other’s laugh so much and yet still endure so much pain….and the answer I keep coming to is this…that it must be Christ.You have encourged me dear friend.

  12. The Daily "B" on December 7, 2007 at 2:45 pm

    Thank you for writing such honest words , Jenster.I felt guilty reading this. I throw myself full blown pity parties now and then over dumb stuff. I think I will think twice before throwing another one. =)I was talking to my teen class last night about how God won’t put anything on us that we are not able to bear. Those that are hit the hardest are the strongest among us. You’ve got the scars to prove that you’ve been hit pretty hard. Those scars are trophies! By these you have proof that you are a stong women. I’ll be praying for the removal of the rest of the dressings. =)

  13. Jaime on December 7, 2007 at 5:17 pm

    hey Jen….my thoughts/prayers are with you……remember, your life is bigger than this……

  14. Jaime on December 7, 2007 at 5:17 pm

    hey Jen….my thoughts/prayers are with you……remember, your life is bigger than this……

  15. Carolanne on December 7, 2007 at 10:52 pm

    Whenever I read your posts, I always have this feeling of being challenged. You are so real, so human and so honest and I admire that about you! Thank you for sharing from your heart and challenging us all to think about whether or not we’re focussing on God too.

  16. Sherry on December 7, 2007 at 11:45 pm

    (((Jen))) it is still “okay” to have a pity party…really. You aren’t finished yet..the work is still not done so you still have reminders of what this trip has been all about. I know we give it up to God, but that doesn’t always do it. How can it? We’re human. Our emotions are strong…as strong as our strength and our faith and our will.I still heard the humour in this post…but I also heard the sorrow and the grief and the sadness. And all of those emotions are real and legitimate and need to be felt.One day at a time Jen. One little day at a time.

  17. Mama P on December 8, 2007 at 3:16 am

    Jenster, you are only human. I’d like to link you to Babycenter at some point. Only if you’re cool with that. And as far as the boobs go, you are going to be awesome. I think my boobs look like yours now, and I havnen’t had surgery. Yours probably look better even!

  18. Lisa on December 8, 2007 at 10:40 am

    Here’s some more love for you! *Hugs-a-bunch*(I bear my own physical/emotional scars that I sometimes struggle with.)

  19. Eileen on December 8, 2007 at 10:55 am

    Jen,You are beautiful, inside and out. One of the things I love about you is your honesty. I think thoughout this journey, it is your honesty and humor that has helped get you through (of course God, your family, friends that goes without saying). God is with you, he know you have turned it over to him, but I know he understands the need to vent and get frustrated too. Hugs and love sent to you!! XOXO

  20. beans on December 8, 2007 at 2:58 pm

    Good to see you today and I am glad you are feeling better. 🙂

  21. Travis Erwin on December 8, 2007 at 3:34 pm

    … I’ve decided removing tape is the worst “procedure” there is …As a man covered with hair I tend to agree.

  22. Lynilu on December 8, 2007 at 4:06 pm

    Jen, I echo all the above. I’m going to add one thing. You say, “I’m going to try to give everything to God again.” I suggest you drop the words “to try.” Just give it. No qualifiers, just give it.

  23. Gretchen on December 9, 2007 at 11:05 am

    Lord, I lift this beautiful woman up to you today and always. You love her so much. Thanks for keeping her on this planet, because selfishly, my life is so much the richer for it. Love her through the hurt, sorrow and joy that is her story. In Jesus’ name. Amen.xxxooogretchen

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