I walked into the store all smiles today. For the first time in a very long time, I was going shopping just for me and even better, my 13 year old wasn’t complaining...yet. I selected several pairs of my favorite slacks a size larger. No, I can’t lie, 2 sizes larger. I knew that I had gained a little weight sitting about, but I also wanted something a little larger so that it wouldn’t press against my scars from my recent surgery. With 2 pairs of slacks of 2 different styles slung over my arm, I traipsed into the fitting room.
I sat down in the chair with my back to the mirror and began to try on the pants. I pulled them up and realized that even 2 sizes were too tight. I stood for a few seconds before pulling the pants back off. I turned around to the full-length mirror. My mouth fell open and I just stared. Then, I pulled off my shirt and continued to stare. I looked at my misshapen breast that was reconstructed after my first battle with breast cancer. I looked at the new scars of my recent mastectomy. I looked at how my chest was starting to look puffy where my expander was filling. I looked at the ugly puckered scar under my armpit from the drain tubes. I looked at my swollen arm. I looked at the 3 scars in my abdomen from another recent surgery to remove my ovaries. I looked at my large stomach. I looked at my thick cellulite ridden thighs. Then I began to cry, quietly, alone, as I sat in the single chair, in the dressing room, in the middle of JC Penny’s.
I’ve never been one to have a positive self-image, but I’ve never hated myself either. Today, I hated myself. I hated the battle, I hated my body, I hated myself for allowing my body to get that way. What good is surviving cancer 3 times, if I end up dying of a heart attack?
Standing there looking in the mirror, I came to reality with myself. I left the pants hanging on the hanger, walked out of the dressing room and right into the women’s section. I haven’t shopped there since my thyroid was removed...2003. 10 years, 10 years! I selected the same size pants that I picked from the misses section, but this time with a W. I tried them on and lookie there, they fit. I tried on all 5 pairs of slacks to make sure that each fit.
This time when I got undressed the final time, I looked at myself again. Yes, I hate the battle, but I kicked cancer’s ass 3 times! Yes, I hate my body, but it holds the scars of that hard fought battle. No, I don’t hate myself, I’ve been through too much to give up on me already.
I have a lot of growing to do. At 42, I know my weaknesses, my ugly habits and my challenges. I also know how strong I am, that I have the best support group a woman can ask for and that I have a beauty that shines from within.
Today, I stood for a few moments humiliated by the sight of me but then; I got dressed, put my smile back in place and joined my family. Me-3, cancer-1. Today, cancer won the battle. I let it beat me, but it’s not over...