Well, actually all cancer is an asshole.
By now, some of you may have seen my “Don’t Be An Asshole” Series. In case you haven’t, here is one.
Anyway, I love you guys so much. Sometimes, I have to take something from my site The Manifest-Station and share it here because, well, you’ll see. You just can’t miss this. So, below is from the Dear Life column. (p.s., send us in a q if you need advice by clicking here.)
This particular one was answered by author Joules Evans.
I’m 32 now – 30 & 31 were filled with having double mastectomy, painful reconstruction, chemo and radiation. I’m starting to heal my mind, to get back into the swing of life and letting myself look at possibilities I haven’t in years – seizing the day, romantic possibilities.
I like a boy – it’s crazy, it’s been a long time. How do I knock these f*cking walls down and start acknowledging I do deserve something great in my life. My body is literally what is left of a battlefield. I look at myself in the mirror and feel so broken and impossible to love. I worry so much I will open up to this guy I will be completely and utterly rejected.. and even more broken than I started out. Help.
Love & light,
Dear Love & Light, sister BC Survivor,
Wow. 30 & 31 sure sound like a one-two punch that tried to TK you O. I’m so very sorry you had to go through all that. But Ka-POW. 32. What a comeback. What a milestone after all that shit. What a #beautyhunting kind of miracle that you are on the other side, starting to heal your mind, getting back into the swing of life, seizing the day, and sizzling over a boy. It’s as it should be. F*ck cancer. F*ck how long it’s been. F*ck the walls. YOU. deserve. something. great. in. your. life. And why not? You’ve certainly been “in training” for something extraordinary. I think you have already kicked the shit out of those walls with the double mastectomy, reconstruction, chemo, radiation, and especially your kickass attitude. Dear Love & Light . . . I’m bowing to that love and light in you and think it says everything that you signed your name that way. It is such a sucker punch to cancer. It’s like a left hook, then a right, right to the kisser. Wham! Bam! Thank you (not) ma’am. To come back with (as) love and light. Whoa. Namafreakingste. Talk about TKO. Talk about a knockout.
I will never be able to see you in the mirror the way you see yourself in the mirror. But I do know a mirror is a skewed perspective that nobody else but you can see. Have you ever heard of The SCAR Project? I work with the photographer, David Jay. Here’s what he said about the smoke and mirrors of mirrors.
“During the shoot of Sarah, the red haired woman with tears running down her face. The shoot was going well. The pictures looked good, honest. There was laughter. I was pleased with the images we had captured. I loaded the pictures into the computer and called Sarah over to look. She came and stood behind me in silence. Then tears. Mine too. I grabbed the camera again . . . “Now, we take pictures.”
There is something about photography that’s very real. We’re so accustomed to seeing ourselves in a mirror but that reflection is actually reversed. A photograph isn’t. That’s why it’s often shocking to see yourself in a photograph—it’s not what you see in the mirror every day. It’s what everyone else sees. In that moment, Sarah came face to face with herself.
When I see Sarah’s picture I see breathtaking beauty. Also, she happens to be a dear friend so I KNOW. She IS. breathtaking beauty. I know I don’t know you, but I can already tell you that I know YOU are too, Light & Love. No one can read your words and get a sense of your heart and not be stunned by your beauty. And anyone who can’t see it has a perspective more f*cked up than a hall of mirrors. So f*ck them. (not literally!). (Pehaps the mirror is the real wall we are talking about here, and if so, then I say F*ck Luck and shatter the mirror.)
I know that might seem easy for me to say. I was 42 when I got diagnosed, married with 3 teenagers. My husband used to be a boob man, but the second my boobs tried to kill me he literally kissed them goodbye. I had a double mastectomy, without reconstruction, and 24 chemo cocktails. My husband took me to every doctor’s appointment and chemo; my 2 teenage boys, whom I was homeschooling took care of me during the dog days of chemo. I mention my husband and boys because even though my body, like yours, is what is left of a battlefield, and even though a TSA agent once asked me what my gender was and I sometimes get carded when I’m out with my boys because I get mistaken for being one of the boys, my husband and my boys (literally, my own little band of brothers) pretty much carried me through the battlefield. I mention that, because you deserve something great in your life, so I want you to set the bar high. A man who looks upon your scars and sees strength and courage . . . grace . . . and beauty. Not broken. Not impossible to love. Worthy of love. Believe.
It’s time to kick down those f*cking walls. You’ve already done the impossible part to get to this point in your life where you are crazy about a boy and thinking of romantic possibilities. You kicked cancer’s ass. Take a good look at those battle scars. You are fierce. You are woman. So go ahead and roar.
“What are you going to do with your one wild and precious life?”~Mary Oliver
The possibilities! Mission. Possible.
Roar, love & light. BE love & light. Sprinkle that shit everywhere. Do love. Shine. You know how very precious the gift of time is. Don’t waste it. If you’re crazy about the boy, then go kiss and tell the boy. Take a shot. Why the hell not? #YOLO “Wear your scars like stardust” to quote my friend Amy Ferris, and remember the bar is high. You are checking out the boy; not vice versa. It has nothing to do with whether or not you are impossible to love, but everything to do with whether he has love. I hope he is in awe of the love & light, and the stardust, because he sure as hell better be if he wants to make the cut. And if he doesn’t make the cut it is because he is being rejected, not you. Because you do deserve something great in your life. Believe. That’s my wish for you, love & light, Joules Evans.
*(Joules is not the one in the photo. That is beautiful Sarah.)
Note from Jen: On Friday I hung out with Joules and Isis Charise, founder of The Grace Project. “Grace” is a series of portraits of women who have experienced Mastectomy Surgery in order to survive breast cancer.
Watch this and be blown away!
I will be in Vancouver Jan 17, and Atlanta and NYC in March as well as my annual retreat to Kripalu, a writing retreat to Mexico in May and 2 2015 Tuscany retreats. All info here.
Tuscany during the summer is almost full so book right away! In between it all, I will do my best to keep writing my column here. But when I am not, you can find me on Instagram at @jenpastiloff and FB at www.facebook.com/jenniferpastiloff. xo jen
Jen will be leading a New Year’s Manifestation Retreat: On Being Human in Ojai, California. All retreats are a combo of yoga/writing and for ALL levels. Read this post to understand. Check out manifestationyoga.com for all retreat listings and workshops to attend one in a city near you (Dallas, Miami, South Vancouver, NYC & London are next). Jen is the guest speaker 3 times a year at Canyon Ranch and leads an annual retreat to Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health every February, as well as an annual invite only retreat to Tuscany. She is the founder of the popular The Manifest-Station website. Jen is leading Other Voices Querétaro in Mexico with authors Gina Frangello, Emily Rapp, Stacy Berlein, and Rob Roberge in May . Follow her on Instagram and Twitter. You can also find her at BeautyHunting.com.
Image courtesy of Simplereminders.com.