If We Don’t Change, We Don’t Grow

“Until I had my mastectomy, I had never talked to another woman about mastectomy surgery or reconstruction.”

I am the first to admit that I have been remiss in nurturing my friendships with other women. Over the years other things have always “got in the way”… be it work commitments, family commitments…life commitments. I should have made my girlfriend commitments more of a priority, but I didn’t. But that is all going to change. I hear women talking of their girl’s weekends, spa days, dinners…even girls-only vacations. Whatever the event, I want to participate.

I have a few what I would call “good female friends but I plan on adding to that circle and putting more effort in spending “girl time” together. If you have a close, true, and dependable female friend, you can’t ask for a better wingman, sidekick, confidante, cheerleader, and supporter. I have two girls who work for me that before Covid, I had over for an evening. And they are “girls”. They are closer to my daughter’s age and are both in very different stages of their lives than me, but so what, right?! We had a lovely evening and shared stories and laughed and bonded. I felt really happy that two young accomplished women wanted to spend an evening with me. I mean, what could they find interesting in me, and what I have to say?

It’s that doubt and insecurity that has hindered my relationships for years….and I think what keeps many of us from sharing important events and information with each other.  Until I had my mastectomy, I had never talked to another woman about mastectomy surgery or reconstruction. I know it’s not something you just blurt out when you meet someone. “Hi, I’m Patti; I had my breasts cut off; had tissue expanders inserted, and now have implants. What’s your name?” But, with all the women I have met through business over the last 25 plus years, you would think that I would have met or even heard of someone who had been through this journey.

“Women have to take time to focus on our mental health-take time for self, for the spiritual, without feeling guilty or selfish.”

-Beyonce

“Let’s try to help each other along the way. Let’s support each other. Let’s nurture our friendships. Let’s take time for each other and for ourselves. Let’s share our stories.”

Unfortunately, “cancer” is something that is hard to talk about. It’s not really “taboo” anymore, but it’s still kept very hush, hush in many circles.

Many women, including me, are nervous and embarrassed to announce to the world that they’ve lost their breasts. The first thing that happens is people immediately move their eyes from your face to your chest and their gaze tends to stay there for the duration of your conversation. Somehow, losing your breasts means you’ve lost a vital part of who you are. Or at least a vital part of being a woman. Let’s face it, breasts are a big part of the physical image of a woman. And our physical appearance plays a big role in our confidence. Our confidence plays a big part in our relationships and our relationships are what we need to nurture and protect. It becomes a vicious circle. We need to “share” with each other; but to do that makes us very vulnerable and if you haven’t nurtured friendships that will provide the trust and support you need then we isolate ourselves and continue to hide our stories, experiences, and journeys.

I have made it my mission to share whatever I can with whoever wants and needs to hear from me. I didn’t have the luxury of being able to speak with other women about mastectomies and reconstruction before I went through it. We all go through things in our lives that are hard but we probably aren’t the first or last to go through them. Let’s try to help each other along the way. Let’s support each other. Let’s nurture our friendships. Let’s take time for each other and for ourselves. Let’s share our stories. You can whisper or you can roar. But ladies and gents, either way, let others hear that they are not alone and if they want to talk, let’s listen.

Patti

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