Thank goodness killer boobie month is almost over…

I don’t know what to think about pinkwashing on kitchen appliances…

For one, Andy does nearly all of the cooking… and, while he’s concerned about breast cancer, he also won’t wear a pink shirt… I’m guessing if he had a Kitchenaid, he’d use it – then again, our new kitchen is pretty small, so I’m guessing it would end up in the closet…

And… a kitchen appliance, nothing says “women do all the cooking, like God intended” like that… it might as well be a pink vacuum  with a pink French Maid’s costume to go along with it… aack….

I’m glad tomorrow is Halloween… that means the pink-ribbon shit may be gone from the stores by June.

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A Blog I love…

 

Writing as jo(e) is one of my favorite blogs... the link is to one of her series of naked friends.

The thing about “jo(e)” is that she takes beautiful photographs of her friends, none of which are explicit or weird — but, they have no clothes on.  Her models aren’t young hot things — rather, they’re her friends, colleagues, and family members.  Their bodies are realistic and beautiful… each new naked friend post reminds me a lot of my “Of Scars” photo shoot..

Thanks to “jo(e)” for reminding me that an older, imperfect body can be beautiful too.

Taking my shirt off… Of Scars

 

Last night was THE night for Of Scars.. It was wonderful and terrifying all at the same time.  It was energizing and exhausting at the same time.  It was happy and sad…  most of all, it was a wonderful event where I met many amazing people.

I knew the founders Kate and Elli going into the event and I thought it would be great meeting the other models, and I was right.  Their energy, drive, compassion and sense of humor made the decision to participate and the photo shoot itself easy for me.

For most women, being photographed topless for a public event is well beyond their comfort zone.  When you have only one boob, it’s beyond your comfort planet.  But, in a weird way for me, it was exactly what I needed to do.

We all know what society says about boobs… men and women talk about them on a regular basis, praising, judging, commenting, complaining about them until sometimes it seems like all you hear is talk about juggs… in fact, someone went so far as to find 262 different terms we use to describe them.  As a culture, we’re obsessed with them.

I’m a big girl with a DD cup on the right and nothing on the left.  I have two different fake boobs, one of which is smaller than it should be because my insurance company considers the product that makes one in my size a “luxury item”… yep, being symmetrical is a luxury now… thankfully, they will cover two (there’s logic there someplace)… a regular one and a swim boob and the swim boob is actually my size.

But… back to last night…

My photo shoot was in June – so I had plenty of time to wonder how the photos would turn out.  I was also pretty sure that most of the other models had been reconstructed, so I was likely to be the only one-boobed woman on the walls.  I trusted Kate and Elli to pick beautiful photos because I’d seen examples of their work — and I knew them.  I also couldn’t help but worry that the event itself would be like one of those dreams where you show up for school without your pants. It was far, far from that.

The wonderful thing about Of Scars is that they only display the photos once — when all the models can be there.  So, you look at an amazing photo of a bald woman with scared boobs and then you turn around and talk to the real person.  You meet the friends that were in the photo with her, who shaved their heads on the internet to raise money to help her pay for treatment — you laugh, you drink wine and you complain about the ubiquitous pink ribbons coming up for Breast Cancer Awareness month.  When you say something like “you can’t even fricking buy CAT FOOD that doesn’t have a pink ribbon on it” — they get you… At one point I went to the neighborhood Super America and saw pink and white TIC TACS…. (note, saw, didn’t buy) — when I came back to the event and told one of my fellow models this, she just rolled her eyes…

There was a lot that was overwhelming about last night…

  • Walking into the gallery and seeing my photo was kind of like the first time I had the courage to look at myself  in the mirror after my surgery… I looked at my photos out of the corner of my eye at first, then when I realized the world wasn’t going to stop revolving — I looked again, long and hard.  I saw a beautiful woman with courage she didn’t know she had… until cancer.
  • I found myself telling my cancer narrative in a new way.  I’m now 4 years+ post diagnosis and my life has changed in many, many ways.  What has really changed is my level of compassion for other people.  Everyone has faults, some physical, some intellectual, some personal — some we can see and others we can’t.
  • At one point in the evening the gallery was really crowded — all of those folks spent part of their Saturday night to look at a photo of me without my shirt on… many, many, many of them told me I was beautiful.  For someone who is used to being the smart one, not the pretty one, it was a lot to take in — and, they were seeing one of my big faults — and saying it anyway.
  • My photos showed peace and courage… one of each… and that’s about right.  I’m at peace with losing my breast — and I am a courageous person.  I’m doing my thing and enjoying life.  period.

 

Doing what you can do to help…

I’m part of the “Of Scars” project… this link is to the sneak peak with my photo, if you want to look…

As many of you know, I’m not all about the pink ribbons… cripes, it takes months for the stock of cat food, paper towels, diet coke and all the other stuff that carries pink ribbons on the packaging to go away… It’s kind of icky for me to think about.

Yes, I had (technically, have, but not active.. yadda, yadda, yadda) breast cancer.  Yes I appreciate all the folks who are supportive.  Yes, for sure, I’m glad I don’t live in a time when breast cancer was something shameful… yep, I get that.

What I also get is that I can, in my own way, do something to help other women facing breast cancer.  The “Of Scars” project is part of that.  I do it by being open about my experience.  By telling people that I only have one boob attached… by talking about chemo, the good and the bad… and by talking about how having cancer changed my outlook and life goals.

“Of Scars” is a photography project that intrigued me when I first heard about it.  This will be the third event — so, the first one was about a year after I really noticed that October was pink ribbon hell.  I was sick of the whole thing and dreading the month all together.  If I could have run away to the north woods until November 1, I would have.

Along came my first contact with “Of Scars” — a project celebrating the women who have the scars — the whole women who live, love, laugh, cry, raise kids, get married and divorced, along with the rest of us.  I was one of them at that point.  I got it — I’m more than my scar.  My scar is nothing to be ashamed of.  It’s like a tattoo to commemorate a part of my life.  I knew then that I wanted to be involved… but, for some reason I couldn’t make it to the event.

I eventually became facebook friends with Kate and Eli via the “Of Scars” facebook page — so I saw their call for models after the second event… and I was all over that.  This year, I’m part of the event..

The cool thing about the event is that the images are only displayed for one evening — and the women in the images are at the event.  So, you look at the images then you see the real, live, women laughing and enjoying life… because, that’s what we do, we enjoy life.

I can’t think of a better way to set my perspective straight about pink ribbon hell… This year I’ll try to see every gross commercialization of a scary time in my life as representing a woman or her loved ones who have joined the pink ribbon sorority…

Of Scars

I met two amazing women today– Eli and Kate.  Together they put together “Of Scars” — a photo project celebrating women with scars from breast cancer.

I became interested in this project last time around — and this time I’m planning to model.  It seems rather brave to participate in a public art project by showing my breast cancer scar — but really, it’s not.

First of all, Eli and Kate are great — really great — fun, funny, sensitive, thoughtful and creative.  We had a great conversation that wandered far and wide — and always came back to ideas about beauty and courage — which is what they want to celebrate with their project.

The big idea is to create portraits of women who aren’t afraid to show their breast cancer battle scars.  The samples they showed me were all beautiful photos, some were raw, some refined, many thoughtful and all  thought-provoking.   Each photo captured the spirit of the woman in a beautiful and unique way.

Kate and Eli are very concerned about not making “Of Scars” about the scars.  They take great pains to ensure that the project does not exploit the women involved — so the images are not on the web and are only publicly displayed at one event.

The big question is why I’d want to do this project?  First of all, I think it’s a project worth supporting — and the best way I can think of to support the project is to participate.

The real and deep reason is that the last year or so has been about freedom and boldness — and what could possibly be more freeing or bold than showing my scar to the public?  I’ve always been open about my breast cancer — with my students, friends, colleagues and family.  I’m not shy about being “lop-sided” when I take off my bra — I’m comfortable with my own scar and I want others to see the way breast cancer has made me a stronger, and perhaps better person.

Having cancer made me see myself and my life in a fresh way — it was a re-set button on my life.  It freed me from some ruts and ways of thinking that hadn’t always been positive or fun — and made me see that life really is short, so it’s better to be bold and fearless than not.

Having cancer was scary — and fighting it made me free to take bigger risks, to risk being happy when the implications of failure are there as well — once  you’ve faced down cancer (knock on wood), very little else is really, truly, frightening.  Anybody who has had chemo, who has an oncologist, who has spent any time in the waiting room of a cancer clinic can tell you that becoming a “cancer survivor”as your identity can be quite easy.  I fought that every step of the way– and what I love about “Of Scars” is that it celebrates the women and not their status as “cancer survivors”.

I’d also like to show my friends and family how bold and free I’ve become.  I think Kate and Eli are just the women to help me do it.

My friend P…

Let me tell you about P…

She’s a lot like the older sister I never had.  She’s my friend, my confidant, my mentor and she does kick ass hair.  We worked together at the hair supply place for many years — she supported my move to a more flexible job that let me finish not only my BA but my Ph.D. coursework. P is one of those friends you can be separated from for a long time and things just click back when you’re together again.

About 3 years ago I walked into her salon in Omaha and shocked the hell out of her.  I was bald from chemo.

I couldn’t figure out how to call her and tell her on the phone — it was just too hard.  I wanted to see her, to let her know what had happened to me and I needed her hug and hair advice — so I went to see her.  I also wanted her to see that I was ok — to be able to look me in the eyes and know that this was just something that happened to me, it wasn’t the end of me.

Since the ex stopped teaching in Omaha, I saw P less often — but when I’d have to go to Nebraska for dissertation things I’d make a hair appointment (because my hair did come back) and we’d talk — I miss her whenever someone else does my hair, because neither the hair nor the conversation is as good as it is with P.

I found out today that P has two kinds of cancer… breast cancer and a much more scary kind of cancer… she’s in the middle of chemo and having some trouble.  It makes me sad to be 400 miles away from her, even though I know she has a wonderful husband and family and many friends around her — I still want to visit her, give her a hug and have a chat..

I want to tell her that it’s ok to be bald.

She’s a picky eater anyway (nothing spicy, she’s a good Nebraska girl after all) — so taste changes won’t be huge for her —

I want to tell her that there is life after cancer.  All of this is scary — as it should be — but that doesn’t mean you become a CANCER PATIENT…. which is oddly like being a HUSKER FAN, except Husker fans get to drink beer… cancer is something that happens to you, it isn’t who you are.  The medical professionals around you will make it easy to become CANCER PATIENT — and I’d love to be around to help her stay P.

I want to bring her avocados — because they taste amazing during chemo.

I want to bring her all the hats and scarves I couldn’t wear when I was bald because they were too small for my enormous head.  P knows that I have an enormous head… she comments on it when she does my hair.  I also have a lot of hair for a natural blonde… and only P knows when I started getting gray hairs..

I want to bring her the one hat that fit — because it has good karma… and I don’t need it right now.

I want to give her a hug, talk about our lives and give her some time to be distracted from the hospital routine until she needs a nap.

I want to go to her house and cook and clean — lots of small portions of mild food — and some normal food for her amazing husband and family.

I want to make things ok for the woman who is my soul-sister…. and I’m afraid I can’t.

Cancer sucks.

Something I didn’t know about breast cancer..

It seems it’s time for boobies on Leftyconcarne…

Actually, this is a post about prosthetic boobs… the kind you have when the real one(s) are trying to kill you…

What I didn’t know is that they wear out.  It’s been about a year and my “foob” is getting oddly wrinkly.

I also didn’t know that at altitude, they develop small bubbles..

Now you know.