My flagrant use of the ‘C’ word

My flagrant use of the ‘C’ word and the ponderings of life after diagnosis.

This morning on the news it has been revealed that Angelina Jolie has had a double
mastectomy due to an 80% chance of her developing breast cancer.
If you know me well enough you will remember how much I idolised this lady over the years.
Not for her choice of partner or sex, drugs and rock and roll lifestyle but because she seems
fearless. Devastatingly beautiful, intelligent, confident, with a heart of gold and a yearning to
encourage peace in the world. Basically, there is a lot more to this woman than her breasts
although some of you may not know it.

After mulling over this revelation I decided it was time to talk about my own experience with
cancer.
Some of you may have thought it was a bit too personal to put a status update about the whole thing
on Facebook. I don’t really care what you think if that was your opinion and challenge you to have the same conversation with 60 plus people and not become too depressed to speak about anything again.
No matter who the conversation was with it was always the same… see the script below.
“I’m so sorry, what cancer is it? can they cure it? can you have children? how long till you
get the results? when’s your next appointment? well my friend ‘insert name’ had it and it was fine,
you’re positive person you can get through this, I’m here if you need anything’.
Just one of these conversations would leave me in tears and on one day I had 3 conversations like
this consecutively.
No matter how big or small the cancer its a BIG thing to deal with. It will never leave me in peace
and I will be more at risk now because I have had it already. They will keep a close eye on me for the rest of my life. If you haven’t read my blog “The Uncomfortable Truth of being a woman” I encourage you to now for it is possible that the smear test I went for then, has saved my life by revealing the cancer.

After seeing the news about Ms Jolie I understood what I needed to say about it to all of you.
The worse thing about it for me was dealing with the idea of losing part of what makes me a woman.
Besides being genuinely amazing, women are relied upon to protect babies for 9 months, breast feed them and develop those babies into wonderful human beings hopefully alongside a supportive partner.
Society as such takes a lot of this for granted and it can be devastating if something happens which makes this seemingly natural process an impossible task to undertake.

What happens if like Angelina, you must have both breasts removed? Is your life over?
It doesn’t make you less of a woman yet society will perceive her, from now on, as though something is ‘missing’.
A lot of women I know have had part of, or all of their breast removed due to cancer yet the only thing I see when I look at them is strength and beauty in abundance.
If they hadn’t caught my cancer early on I may have had to have a hysterectomy to ensure my health wasn’t compromised.
So what would society perceive a newlywed without the capacity to have kids as.. lacking? Broken? Not doing what it says on the tin?
Not fulfilling her role as wife as she is incapable of becoming a mother?
In a world where Facebook is overwhelmed with photos of cute children and beautiful pregnant mothers, for someone who’s had cancer found in the baby making region, it’s a lot to take on a daily basis.
It made me quite venomous towards people who have had lots of kids, not got married and had babies or who have had kids with different fathers and all the while I just wanted the ‘boring’ dream of marrying my true love and having a family. Is that too much to ask?
After going through all these hateful feelings I realised that this is never a personal thing. I mean look at Angelina.
She has adopted kids, had her own kids, is Goodwill ambassador for the UN, is with Brad Pitt and seems to have more energy and time than a lot of celebrities. Does she think that having a double mastectomy makes her any less of a strong female? I’d say not likely.

So then I asked myself the questions that I ask you now..
If I couldn’t have children… does that make me less of a woman? Once married, would I have any less fulfilled a life if my body could not support a baby full term? Do you think I would change dramatically as a person if I never have children?
If you answer ‘NO’ to the questions it shows you that what defines me in your eyes isn’t whether or not I produce mini ones.

Angelina Jolie has always lived by the mantra ‘What doesn’t kill me, makes me stronger’ and I know she will help inspire women who have had to go through the same process or are about to embark on a very frightening time of deciding what to do.
She is one of those people who has been the definition of beauty. You take her breasts away and she will still be beautiful and even more breathtakingly fearless.
I’ve spoken to a lot of women that I know who have been through the same or more severe scenario to me and they are all strong, feisty women who aren’t defined by the parts of them that don’t work in the usual way.
I think as a race we put a lot of pressure on ourselves as to what we should look like, how we should feel and what path our lives are supposed to take.
With my future husband constantly reminding me that my health is the priority and it wouldn’t change our love if we couldn’t have kids, I have the courage to do what is necessary in order to survive. Whatever it takes.
In a couple of weeks I will hopefully know who has won this round of Sharon vs Cervical cancer but I will keep in training as there may be more rounds to fight before the belt is officially mine.
My family and friends have helped me realise that I do not have to be scared and that I am not alone. I am so very lucky and know that with a support network this strong, I am unstoppable.

“What defines us is how well we rise after falling”

I have fallen, I have been down but I finally feel like I am on the way up.
Like a phoenix from the flames I will rise and set this world on fire.

Thanks for listening x

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By shazkira

6 comments on “My flagrant use of the ‘C’ word

  1. hi Sharon we all know boobs and child bearing ability dose not a woman make and the focus people put on this is scant. i find its quite a personal ideal of femininity that defines us, an old lady sitting in hospital after going through mastectomys and she knows what else life has thrown at her is still a woman. for a woman is someone who’s strong, who can stand up and take whatever life throes at her, takes the punches on the chin and still stand. You are and always will be a woman no matter what.

  2. Can’t believe I didn’t even know you were going through all this! We are all more than the sum of our parts (and what our parts can create). I can empathise so much with so much of this. I get terrible pangs seeing all the facebook babies and bumps and try not to let the green eyed monster covet too hard. I try to keep focused on what I can contribute and how I am so very lucky to have what I do. Certainly get the impression that you can handle this and will inspire others – I know you have me!

    You write beautifully and I look forward to reading more šŸ™‚

  3. Doesn’t look like my comment I left yesterday posted! I’ll try again…

    I can empathise with so much of what you’ve said. I too feel the green eyed monster rear its head when I see all the babies and bumps on Facebook. Seems like everyone else is doing something that it looks like I never will. I try to focus on accepting that being me is actually pretty good and I am incredibly lucky to have what I do. It is hard though.
    We are more than the sum of our parts (and what our parts can produce) and I’m glad I don’t feel like less of a woman or a failure in some way but I do feel envy.

    You write beautifully btw and I can’t believe what you’ve gone through just this past year! Your strength rivals Angelina, no doubt of that šŸ™‚
    Thanks for the inspiration x

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