The First Time I Looked at My Mastectomy Scar

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So I’m back in my own surroundings and out of hospital, and it feels blissful. I only have to do one thing today — well, aside from the essentials like taking care of the wound and keeping up on my medication.

Today is the day I must look at my scar.

If I don’t, it’s defeat because it’s my body, and I need to know what lies below the dressings. I need to know what lies beneath.

In the hospital I had a brief flirtation with this when I looked at my reflection in the the bath faucet, but I glanced away rapidly, not ready for what I would see.

Today though I’m ready, and I admit, my narcissistic tendencies are going to help me on this one. I undress first and get in the shower enjoying the scent of Soap & Glory shower cream. Clean, sumptuous and fresh. I spend time washing my skin, washing away the institutionalized smell of the hospital. It feels so good to be in my own bathroom, in my own bath.

Freshly bathed and dry, I turn slowly to the mirror and dart my eyes feverishly, knowing what I need to do. I look…

Once I look, I can’t stop. My eyes take it all in, and I stop in my tracks. I look at “it,” and many thoughts flash through my mind. It occurs to me that I actually went through with the mastectomy operation, and it was a success. That thought doesn’t stay long enough in my head, though, as vanity chick breaks out, and I’m looking at it from an aesthetic point of view, thinking how deformed and monstrous it looks. The reconstruction is high and wonky, and the stitches remind me of a sewing lesson when I was in primary school where we learned to do blanket stitching but you pulled too tight and your creation puckered. The whole reconstruction looks like it’s about to burst; it looks stretched, angry and raw. I notice, for the first time, stretch marks on my breast. Oh yes, and my nipple is in the pathology lab.

The vanity chick in me is getting way too much airtime. She needs to get off her perch and move out of my head. OK, time to get a new chick in my head to take a look. I’m searching for her. Scientist chick? I’m a medical miracle. I’m trying to convince myself to own feelings I don’t even have yet. Yes that’s it, I’m a medical miracle — what they’ve done is amazing really. I’ve had cancer cells removed from my body, chemically treated pig’s membrane attached to an expanding implant and then my original skin sewn back on. 2015 and this is where we’re at. Pretty impressive. The pig’s membrane holding the implant in place intrigues me; I remember when the surgeon told me the plan and the subsequent Google search I’d done that night. Let’s hope my body likes pork. (Given how much I love pork belly and barbecue ribs, it would be an abomination if my body rejected this breast. This chick loves pork.)

Anyway, I’m staring at the new breast. I’m doing some psychological “own it” piece one of the girls from my support group told me to do. “Feel it!” She said “Own it!” So I’m simply staring at the breast, coming to terms with it. I feel like I’m staring at someone else’s body. It feels so surreal; 72 hours ago I had a pair of breasts, and now I have one breast and a wound. It’s a wound at the moment, but I know in time it will be a breast. It’s a bit like when I was 12 and waiting for breasts to arrive. I had mounds then, but I knew I would have breasts eventually, and yes, they came and served me and a few admirers pretty well.

So yes, now I can tick looking at breasts off the tick list. It’s been 10 minutes, and I need to put on some clothes. I feel OK. Mission completed. I’ve looked, and I didn’t cry or vomit. Time to put on my Marks & Spencer sports bra and favorite leopard skin knickers.

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Share These Stories to End the ‘R’ Word

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This Wednesday, March 4, is the annual Spread the Word to End the Word day. This is an awareness day about the hurtful effects of the word “retard(ed),” otherwise known as the “r-word.” This day also promotes inclusive people-first language.

Check out and share the following r-word stories to let your friends know why it’s important to end the r-word:

To view more podcasts and articles on the r-word campaign that have been featured on Special Chronicles, head here, and be sure to take the end the r-word pledge today.

You can also share this video from my friend Tim Shriver Jr., co-founder of Spread the Word to End the Word:

This post originally appeared on Special Chronicles.

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Watch These Men Dance Their Asses Off to Promote Colon Cancer Awareness

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Iceland’s annual month-long men’s cancer awareness campaign, Mottumars, or “Mustache March,” is off to a running start.

This month’s theme is colon cancer, so to encourage men to take care of their colons, a group of well-known Icelandic actors and musicians dance their asses off in the hilarious ad below. Men flaunt their derreires at the doctor’s office, in the shower and in the meat aisle of the grocery store — all in the name of colon cancer awareness.

The campaign also features a mustache competition in which men compete over who has the most epic facial hair to raise money for the Icelandic Cancer Society, Iceland Magazine reported.

Learn more about the campaign — and check out some sweet dance moves — in the video below.

*The song in the video is “Hossa Hossa” by Amaba Dama.

h/t Reddit Cancer

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This Awesome Woman Is Making People Laugh About a Disease That’s Not All That Funny

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Nicole Osborne is not your average comedian. Diagnosed with Stage 4 breast cancer in March of 2011, Osborne is turning her prognosis into a new career. The survival rate for Stage 4 breast cancer is less than 25 percent for five years, according to The American Cancer Society. Osborne was given less than one year to live in 2013 — but she’s outlived expectations and now brings awareness to cancer one joke at a time.

“Once I had cancer, I kind of felt like no holds barred,” Osborne told CBS News. “I’m going to do whatever I feel like doing, and I wanted to try [stand-up comedy], so I tried it, and I loved it.” She moved from Chicago to New York for cancer treatment and decided to pursue comedy.

Watch one of her performances here. Story continues below.

Osborne has since performed sold out shows at renowned comedy clubs, such as Stand Up NY and The Comedy Club in New York City. While cancer is clearly no laughing matter, those affected by the disease have warmly received Osborne’s routine.

“I have Stage 4 breast cancer. And because of that, people don’t know how to talk to me. They either think I’m dying right away or they can tell me their deep secrets because I’ll die with them,” she says in video above. “This is the last time I go to a Supercuts, you guys.”

Osborne currently lives in The Hope Lodge, an American Cancer Society residence in New York City, and performs as often as her health allows.

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This New Kind of Passport May Make Emergency Hospital Trips Way Easier

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Let’s face it, no one is at their best when thrown into an overwhelming hospital setting. For people with acute medical conditions, communicating with doctors can be an especially stressful experience.

But the Health Passport eases this stress by providing doctors and medical workers with vital information, a brief medical history and the patient’s concerns.

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The Health Passport was inspired by a similar tool used at the Mattel Children’s Hospital University of California, Los Angeles. A nonprofit hospital group called Plantree, in partnership with the National Quality Forum, debuted the passport last year to make sure all patients will be the center of attention and that their specific needs are adequately addressed.

Susan Frampton, president of Planetree, told The Wall Street Journal that the Health Passport helps “even the playing field and improve the quality of conversations that lead to deeper and more trusting relationships between providers and patients.

In addition to medical information, the Health Passport includes personal preferences for taking medication and allows patients to list their anxiety triggers. Patients can also specify their communication preferences — sign language, speech device or nonverbal sounds — and describe how medical staff can best accommodate their needs.

If you’d like to download a Health Passport, head here.

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This Punk Band Made Up of Musicians With Disabilities Is About to Make History

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Pertti Kurikan Nimipäivät, better known as PKN, is a Finnish punk band whose members are all middle-aged men with intellectual disabilities.

As of Saturday, the band has officially been chosen to represent their county at the Eurovision Song Contest, an international televised singing competition, taking place this May in Vienna, Austria.

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The Eurovision Song Contest has been ongoing in Europe since 1956 and boasts an estimated 180 million viewers every year, according to its website.

PKN will perform their 85-second song “Aina Mun Pitaa” (I Always Have To) for the competition, and they’re currently one of the predicted favorites to win, BBC News reported. They will also be the first punk band to compete at Eurovision.

We are changing attitudes somewhat,” Sami Helle, the band’s bass player told The Guardian. “A lot of people are coming to our gigs, and we have a lot of fans. We don’t want people to vote for us to feel sorry for us, we are not that different from everybody else — just normal guys with a mental handicap.”

As The Mighty previously reported, PKN formed in 2009 but gained significant popularity after a documentary about them called “The Punk Syndrome” was released in Spring 2012.

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We bring a different kind of perspective into punk music; it’s our perspective,” Helle said in a press release. “We’re different, we’re four mentally handicapped guys so our perspective on the world of punk is a little different.”

Best of luck, guys!

Check out PKN in the trailer to “The Punk Syndrome” below:

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