Breasts. It seems in our society, that's what defines a woman. They've been used to sell everything from lingerie to burgers. They command attention and seem to determine rank amongst your peers. I've never had them, I should know. I spent the majority of my life being self conscious about being less than "endowed". I've heard "but you have this or that" but it still didn't change how I felt about my body. It wasn't until I was in my 30s that I realized it didn't matter. I didn't have to let boobs (or lack thereof) define me. I started to accept myself and love myself.
Then everything changed. It started with a lump in my right breast. Luckily, benign. Not so for my sister. Hundreds of miles apart, I was getting good news while she was getting the worst news- she had stage 4 breast cancer, triple negative. No treatment, no chance of recovery. The aggressive nature and inability to treat with conventional methods made her battle short lived. She passed a week before her birthday. My life was forever changed.
How did this happen? Why? She was so young. No one had answers, just more questions. What's your family history? You need genetic testing. You have a genetic mutation, what are you going to do? It was dizzying. I couldn't even handle the information. It looks months (and a lot of self examination) to decide on a prophylactic mastectomy. Then I literally had no boobs. And I couldn't do simple tasks like showering or dressing myself or brushing my hair. Talk about a hit to my self esteem. But I knew I did what I needed to do, and the support I had was invaluable.
I had always admired Katie's work and had always wanted to work with her. I finally booked a shoot, mid-reconstruction. In this body that doesn't even feel like my own? With these awful tissue expanders where breasts once were? After I've laid around for months in recovery, eating Chinese takeout and not even considering a workout? Was I crazy??? Nope. I cried when I saw my pictures. I felt so beautiful and so proud of myself.
All the nervousness I had before the shoot was uncalled for. Katie made me feel amazing (and her artist made me look amazing!) My scars are beautiful. They will forever remind me that I got to live. What better gift can you ask for? I still have another surgery to go, and I may never feel whole, but I'll learn to love myself again. Beauty comes from the inside, not from having a perfect body. Thank you Katie, for helping me and so many other women see that