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Drugs, Hugs and Losing My Jugs: A Breast Cancer Journal - May 17, 2015 - The Tit Cancer Ninja

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This is the third entry in a 31-day Breast Cancer Awareness Month exclusive series featuring the real journal entries of breast cancer survivor, Jessica Sliwerski. Read the previous entry here.

I’ve nicknamed myself the Tit Cancer Ninja and I invoke this persona when I need to make big decisions, when I need to buck up and stop feeling sorry for myself, or when I need to make people, especially other women with breast cancer, laugh.

I wear my Fuck Cancer t-shirt to doctor appointments and people love it. They’re disappointed when I show up not wearing it.

“Ninjas gotta do laundry, too,” I jest.

tit cancer ninja shirt
Tit Cancer Ninja Tee: My friend sent me this awesome tee after she read this diary entry so I could properly represent.

Everyone commends me on my bravery during this shit time. I’d like to pretend I’m naturally brave and inherently fierce. I’m 33 years old and breast cancer came out of nowhere for me. I’m at the height of my career and I have an infant daughter and a husband and a life I love with all my heart.

I’m not brave. I’m desperate.

My tumor was in my left breast. I could have done a lumpectomy, removing just the tumor and some of the tissue around the tumor. “Take it all. Fucking take everything,” was all I could think immediately following my diagnosis.

And so they did. They amputated both breasts and both nipples.

Soon, chemo will take my hair, eyebrows and eyelashes.

Five months prior to my mastectomy I had a c-section. I thought I was a real badass because within 48 hours of the c-section I was walking around. Within 72 hours I was committing the cardinal c-section sin — climbing stairs. But I’m a New Yorker and I needed to take the subway to get back to the hospital to see my baby in NICU.

I foolishly imagined myself bouncing back from my mastectomy with the same ease. In my delusion I imagined returning to work, caring for my baby and doing yoga shortly after surgery.

In reality, it took one week before I could hold my daughter and three weeks out, it still hurts.

I can’t work because cancer is a full-time job and yesterday I froze my gym membership for the next six months.

Whereas my c-section was 45 minutes, my mastectomy was seven hours.

Whereas I was awake during my c-section and my husband was holding my hand and at the end I was rewarded with the most beautiful, perfect baby girl, with my mastectomy I was dead asleep and I awoke in a world of physical and emotional hurt.

The c-section left one scar below my bikini line — a scar I am rather fond of, as it’s a reminder of the incredible feat of creating and then bringing a tiny human into this world.

My mastectomy left two ugly scars on my breasts and two scars in each of my armpits that utterly repulse me. They are a daily reminder I have cancer and even once I am finished with treatment, it will take five years before I can consider myself cured.

And even then, for the rest of my life, I will always worry about a recurrence.

It feels so wildly unfair, and yet I know I am lucky. It could be so much worse.

jessica sliwerski tit cancer ninja drawing
Tit Cancer Ninja drawing: Another friend drew this picture for me. I have awesome friends.

And with that in mind, I ninja on.

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All photos courtesy of Jessica Sliwerski

Originally published: October 3, 2017
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