Since my diagnosis, I have made several wonderful cancer buddies online. Their support and encouraging words have gotten me through some rough periods after my surgery and now during chemotherapy.
One of my cancer buddies, Nikki, is a fellow breast cancer patient. She just turned 37 and was diagnosed with her cancer a week before I was. Her and I met on Gawker (back when I was posting on that site, which was before my email/password was compromised) on a story about mammograms. My memory is fuzzy but I think the story was saying mammograms were shown to be ineffective. I posted a response saying I had just been diagnosed with breast cancer the previous day and guess what detected it - a mother fucking mammogram. She messaged me and we have been communicating back and forth since about what we have been going through.
Nikki's breast cancer is considered significantly more aggressive than mine due to her being Her2-positive. She's already had a mastectomy for the affected breast and will be having another mastectomy later in the year. She will be undergoing chemotherapy for about a year, which makes my four-month stint seem like nothing compared to hers. I'll probably have a short pixie haircut by the time she's done with her chemotherapy.
A couple of days ago, Nikki posted a topless picture of herself on her blog. The picture clearly showed her face, shaved head, tears and what her chest looks like post-mastectomy. I was floored by it and her bravery for showing it to the Interwebs. She didn't have to, obviously. After she posted her picture, she got an enormous response from the Interwebs. By posting that picture, Nikki did more for breast cancer awareness than a stupid Facebook status chain letter. She showed thousands of girls and guys what a chest looks like after breast cancer. She made the big scary monster a little less scary. When you know what will happen and why it's so important to be diligent about your breasts, the less power and strength breast cancer has over all of us.
I am just floored by Nikki's ability to show herself like that to the Interwebs. I'm not one to throw the word "brave" around easily when discussing breast cancer but yeah, she was really freaking brave to do that. (I hate when people call me brave as I have done nothing to be seen as brave.... not wanting to die from cancer isn't brave to me - it's common sense.) I'm thrilled that so many people are sending her messages commending her for what she did.
I hate having my picture taken and especially hate it now with my bald head. You will rarely see a picture of me without my hat on. Just thinking about taking a picture of my problem child boob, Righty, is just mind-blowing. I have a huge scar and the boob is definitely misshapen after my surgery. Prior to my diagnosis, I had a lot of tops that accentuated my girls. If I wore shirts like that again, it might be a little obvious that my boobs are uneven but I can easily fix that with wearing a falsie or something. Point of this rambling paragraph: I'm willing to share a lot about what's going on with my treatment but I definitely draw the line at posting pictures of my chest (with clothes or without).
The fact that people like Nikki are willing to put themselves out there to show the world, "THIS IS WHAT BREAST CANCER LOOKS LIKE," is amazing to me. I have no doubt that someone with a spirit like hers is going to beat the crap out of this disease.