What I See in This Photo Now That I Didn't See Before

I thought my arms looked fat. Brian looked awesome, but I thought my makeup was off. If you looked closely, you could see my stomach sticking out too much. The dress was maybe a little too va-va-voom and my hair was curled weird on one side.

This post is for the ladies. I’m learning a hard lesson here and I want to spare you this hurt. We all play our own hardest critics. How can we possibly judge ourselves so harshly? The worst part about this picture is that this occasion really had absolutely nothing to do with how I looked, and a whole lot more to do with the bride! 

The author and Brian with their arms around each other, smiling for the camera. He's wearing a suit and tie, and she is wearing a pink dress and gold earrings.

Oh, I’ve said this before, but we just didn’t know. I could not have fathomed a little over a year ago at my oldest friend’s wedding what we were gearing up for. I had an invasive tumor at this point. I was already months late on an ultrasound ordered by my doctor.

The lady in that picture has cancer. Huh? Not that chick. She is dancing the night away with her favorite guy, laughing and hugging on old friends and dancing some more.

A residing theme in this journey is vanity. I think I’m almost over it. But somehow, I’m still not even close. Here is what scares me: if I’m not over it after this, then I’m terrified of the lesson to come.

Here is a secret. I still look at myself in the mirror in yoga class and notice how I’m a couple of sizes bigger than the lady in front of me. I still search for new wrinkles and I am obsessive about checking for gray hairs in my incoming crop.

I have nothing to teach us here. No lesson I’ve learned. In fact, I’m appalled at how this has not changed in me. I am hurt at myself that I can still actually mutter the words, “I feel fat,” when there are things of so much more consequence to address.

I’m not usually so conflicted in what I want to say. I think I only know how to be truthful and it would be inauthentic of me to offer advise on being kind to yourself. In the same breath and out of the same mouth I can promise you that I see so much beauty in you, and I see a beauty that I did not before in the lady in the pretty pink dress. She was so happy, and honestly, she was having a really good hair day. Her heart was shining through.

Please be easier on yourself than I was. You never know what your future holds.

A photo of the author after going through chemotherapy

This post originally appeared on the “More to Learn” Facebook page.

Find this story helpful? Share it with someone you care about.

Related to Cancer

25 Pieces of Advice for Anyone Going Through Chemo

1. Cop an attitude. Imagine yourself as a warrior, a goddess, a superhero, a totally swaggering badass. All of the above. Picture yourself as victorious, not a victim. A “poor me” mentality isn’t going to help anybody, especially not you. Gird your loins and go. 2. Ask questions… but not too many. Educate yourself about [...]
young woman in blue jacket smiling

Lauren Hill, Basketball Player With Brain Cancer Who Inspired Thousands, Dies

Lauren Hill passed away early Friday morning. The 19-year-old basketball player touched the lives of thousands with her preserverance in the face of terminal brain cancer. Hill, from Cincinnati, had already committed to play ball at Mount Saint Joseph University when she got a diagnosis of Diffused Intrinsic Pontine Glioma (DIPG) last year. Knowing there was [...]
heather and her son taking a selfie

2 Things You Should Never Say to Someone With Cancer

I spend a huge portion of my life avoiding confrontation and trying to keep people happy. It takes vast amounts of emotional fortitude for me to talk about things that might end up offending someone. So please read this with the grace intended. I am writing this because I have been given this situation, so [...]

How This Fan Brought 'The Rock' to Tears

Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, the professional wrestler and actor, recently let his fans glimpse his softer side. Johnson was driving when he noticed some people running after his car and waving their arms, according to a post on his Facebook page. When he stopped, a fan named Nick Miller hugged him and told him he [...]