Saying goodbye to my girls never felt better

This entry was written by Jackie Roth, PhD student at Thomas Jefferson University. Every other Friday, throughout the entire year of 2011, Jackie will share a blog entry about her breast cancer experience. This year-long blog series is in honor of LBBC’s 20th anniversary.

To read Jackie’s previous entries, enter “ Jackie Roth” in the search box on this site.

As I was flipped through the catalog of one of my favorite stores I was surprised to see, in middle of winter, the swimsuit section! Is me or do the summer clothes come out earlier and earlier each year? I wanted to shop for sweaters considering there was snow on the ground! Nevertheless, I paged through the section in search of swimsuits and found myself picking out the ones that I thought would look cute on me. All I could think of were halter tops, thick straps, and cute prints!

But then reality set it. In a few weeks I’m scheduled for surgery – a double mastectomy with immediate reconstruction. The halter top with thick straps might not fit well anymore…

Getting a “new” upper body means that clothes will fit differently for sure. Will I hate v-necks now? Maybe, maybe not. This summer, will I reach in the closet in search of my favorite strapless dress? Maybe, maybe not. I can imagine that the thought of your clothes not fitting your “new” body the way they used to can be upsetting, but I am trying to look at this situation in an opposite way…

This surgery is going to be drastic. I don’t doubt that the end result will be a very big change for me. Going into surgery, I will be scared. Coming out of surgery, I will still be scared, but more so, scared to look at my scars. But at the end of the day, the “girls” (breasts) that I have now don’t matter at all. Although they have been with me almost my whole life, one of them, turned against me. Will the other one do the same in the future? I am not willing to take that risk. And you know what, I have a better set of girl(friends) who will never do that.

My girl(friends) have been beside me through this whole process. They are my best friends from kindergarten through graduate school. Some of them I’ve known for 24 years, and others for just 6 months. Over the past years we’ve laughed, cried, fought, made up, and been there for each other through it all. As I finished up chemotherapy and prepared for surgery, my girl(friends) threw me a party to celebrate. We even let the boys come along!

By the end of the night, the girl(friends) and I took a picture. I was amazed when I saw just how many of them showed up to support me. There was barely enough room for all of us to fit in the picture together. And I know that a bunch of them that couldn’t make it that night were there in spirit.

So as I’ve grown less attached to my physical girls, I’ve become closer and closer to my real girl(friends). My journey with breast cancer has taught me how important it is to cherish these friendships. I know that these “girls” would do anything for me, and I feel the same way about them.

I will go into surgery with a pair of girls and come out with the ones that really matter right by my side, my girl(friends)!

12 thoughts on “Saying goodbye to my girls never felt better

  1. Jackie!
    Your girl (friends) will never leave your side and they will never turn against you. I will be there every step of the way. See you soon!
    Love ya!

  2. Jackie, I admire your strength and tenacity as you “fight the fight.” Please know that my thoughts are with you. Your strength, positive spirit, and support of family and friends will get you through.

  3. Hey Jackie! You are so brave!I said,”goodbye” to my left “girl”last January.I haven’t decided if I want a new “girl”yet-I just finished chemo,and radiaton last November. What I did find out-I hope it helps you,Nordstrom’s will make a masectomy bra,free of charge,out of ANY bra,swimsuit,you purchase there.And, the great thing…this service is free of charge! They also sell great masectomy bras. When I initially had my surgery,all I could find were bras that looked like my “grandma”would wear.But,with due diligence I have found some great ones. I have been blessed with great girlfriends as well. After my masectomy,we had a Mexican themed party@my house…And,the margaritas and mojito’s were,shall I say…in abundance!Everyone made something.I,my “world famous”chicken tacos,and others made great dishes as well.So,I will be praying for you.Surgery is scary.I just prayed as they took me to the Operating Room.I’m a Nurse,but trust me…I think that worked against me,haha! Enjoy the company of friends,and accept all the help they offer. It makes them feel good giving!I had to learn to accept that,because I was so used to being,”independent”.And being the,”go to”girl for everyone. Please know…you have so many “sisters’ who have traveled this road before you,and we all want to lend you our prayers,and support! I tell everyone…This is my life, Part 2.How does that song go?…As long as you believe the best is yet to come…So true!

  4. Jackie, Good luck to you! I’m sending over my positive energy to you. I had double mastectomy with no reconstruction 10 years ago this May….no regrets. I could n’t have gone through it without my family and friend’s support. Thanks, Tonya, for the Nordstrom tidbit! Never knew that. I have a wonderful shop where I live that does that also. I never had surgery before this but I put my faith in my surgeon and God and everything went well. To me it was just one step closer to being cancer free. The girls are gone but I wake up every morning and go into my bra drawer and decide what size to be today!
    My son is getting married in July and I’m going with a strapless gown, which I thought I never would be able to wear, but anything can be done!!

  5. Good luck with the surgery. I had my reconstruction done in November and loving it. My new girls will not be effected by gravity.

  6. Hey, me too! Surgery in December 2009, Surgery January 2010 and double mastectomy May 2010. No reconstruction. No pain. Now look like my grandson which is fine. Some little bumps (fat) but that is ok. One good thing is that I gained a drawer in my dresser – no more bras. Doctor asked if I wear anything and I said no. Tried a sports bra but it ended up around my neck so just my regular clothes. Sometimes wear a v-neck with a tank top under it. Have fat pouches on my sides – doctor said not part of the breast. I am heavy. All women have these pouches – trust me I look now. Even the skinny people have them. When you wear a bra you don’t notice them but there are there. Went to plastic surgeon and he said he could take off pouches but not covered by insurance. Made me look in mirror naked. He said I was uniform, pouches, down a little, rolls and down a little hips. If you all know car tires and have seen commercials, I look like the Michelin man on the Michelin tire commercial. But THAT IS OK!!! I AM ALIVE. A ONE YEAR SURVIVOR.

  7. My dear, you are in my thoughts and prayers. I remember one of my surgeons(both of whom are wonderful women)leaning over and whispering to me, “Remember, your breasts will not be there when you awake.” But, after a double mastectory, chemotherapy, radiation, implants and later reconstruction, I am 13 years past all of that! I have lived to see two of our children marry, we now have three precious grandchildren and I am very alive and grateful to God, family, and my wonderful female friends.

  8. I used to squeeze into a DD bra. After 2 mastectomies and a wonderful new procedure – External expansion and w/ a Brava divise and – fat-grafting – I went to the gym and did jumping jacks for the first time in 30 years! I love the new me.

  9. You are a beautiful writer and I loved reading your column, Jackie. I look forward to reading more. I did a mastectomy without reconstruction three years ago. I had a friend go with me to my first bra and form fitting and the shop owner was just terrific. Along the way there have been many wonderful women, from my doctors to people who run a monthly creative expression group I attend to the people I’ve met at yoga retreats for cancer survivors. May your journey go very well!

  10. Yes, there will definitely be changes to adjust to. Remember – be true to yourself. If you feel negative some days about what you’ve lost, that’s ok too. You have a great outlook, though. Proud of you!

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