OCTOBER 16, 2018

I found out I was BRCA1 positive on October 16, 2018. My husband sat in a chair across from me while my brother and his wife sat next to me. My brother Cesar and I had decided to get tested for the cancer mutation gene together and even though we were advised to do it separately we still did it together. Testing with siblings can be tricky because one might be positive and the other negative which causes tension and mixed emotions. My brother and I didn't think this would ever be a problem and so that's why we stuck together. 

I'll never forget that day. My brother and I sat in the waiting room of UCSF shaking our legs, fidgeting with our hands. Not knowing what to say. Nervous to get the results back we laughed and joked that we would both be positive. After our names were called we both looked at each other and in that instant we knew that the news wasn't good. Our doctor had a worried look on her face. She walked us back to the consultation room and gave us the news. Both positive. 

ASOR LAICRAM VALENCIA 

Rewind back a couple of years. We're sitting in the waiting room of Napa's Queen of the Valley hospital. My aunt, Asor, in her late twenties is seconds away from dying. She's in the hospital bed, drugged beyond belief, holding on till the very last second. She takes her last breath and dies to cancer. Doctors couldn't believe that someone so young was taken so quickly. She was diagnosed with breast cancer and in a matter of months she had over come it. Unfortunately it came back and took her without notice, in what seemed like a matter of milliseconds. I never got to say goodbye. I never got to tell her how much I loved her, and how proud I was to be her sister/niece. 

She came to live with my family when she was a teenager. My grandparents had divorced and moved on with their life. My mom took her in and soon we shared a bedroom. I braided her hair on her first day of high school. When she would sneaked out to see her boyfriend, in the middle of the night, I'd shut the door behind her. We shared clothes and secrets. The way that sisters do. She was a part of me and I lost her so quickly that I still can't process. 

When Asor died doctors were in shock and they told us that her cancer was most likely genetic. They told all of us that it was important for us to get tested. A simple genetic test would let us know if we carried the genetic cancer mutation. The test takes seconds and it's absolutely painless. You spit in a small testing tube and you walk out nervous as hell. 2-3 weeks later you get your results. 

Anyway at the time we suspected that it came from my grandfather, Marcial Valencia. Although I don't think he was actually ever tested we believed he carried the gene because Asor wasn't his first daughter to die from cancer. My grandfather had a plethora of children and the pattern was very clear. 

MY MOTHER 

After my aunts death my mother quickly got tested and she was positive. Her results led her to a double mastectomy, reconstruction and a hysterectomy. Because of her age she was told she had a higher risk of cancer. My other aunts also got tested; some positive, some negative. NOT everyone in my family, who is BRCA1+, has gone through with the surgeries and I think that's important to highlight this because everyone is at a different stage and has a different relationship with their body, which is totally and completely valid. 

Because my mother's results were positive it meant that all of my siblings and I now had a 50/50 chance of also being positive. After her results my mother begged me to please get tested, but being the young crazy artist that I am I argued against testing. I said things like "I don't even care about that. I'm going to die anyway. I don't want to know." It all seemed so far fetched but truthfully I think that I hadn't yet been able to process my aunts death and it seemed to soon to get tested. Instead I ran away to San Francisco then New York. My life moved on and I tried my hardest to ignore my family history. 

JULY 2018

July 12 

July 15 

Sept 19: We go in for testing @ UCSF 

OCTOBER 18, 2018

May of 2018 I graduated from California College of the Arts with a BFA in painting. My next move was going to be a huge move across the country to Brooklyn, NY. I was 1000% certain that this was what I needed to do and there was no stopping me. I applied to MFA grad programs and I was accepted into one of my top choices. Later my school, CCA, had heard that I was looking to go right into my MFA and they called with a pretty sweet offer. I was confused and didn't know what choice to make. UNTIL.... July came around. 


My grandfather passed away on July 2nd and on July 15th my right armpit started hurting.  Given that I was dealing with loosing Papachal I ignored the pain in my armpit. At first I though I was just sore or something since I tend to workout a lot, but a few days went by and the pain was intolerable. I took a look at my underarm and I saw small red bumps. A few more days went by and they got bigger. The pain grew stronger and soon I wasn't able to move my arm without being in excruciating pain. When I got to this point I started to completely freak out. The pain was traveling to my chest and I felt like my body was trying to tell me something.


After telling my mother she made me call the doctor and I was seen that same day. I went in and they examined my underarm. I was quickly told that it was probably an infection from shaving and that it would clear up in no time. While I wanted to believe the doctor I refused to leave without explaining my concerns. I told them that my aunt, Asor, had recently died from breast cancer and at first they shrugged it off. Then I told them she was in her late twenties and then they took me seriously. I expressed that my family had a history of genetic cancer and that I was worried this was related to that. After that they quickly attempted to transfer me to UC Davis, where I was denied healthcare. Then they transferred me to UCSF and I was set up with the genetic testing appointment. (Starting point of my story)

All of this happened from July to October when my results finally came in. Of course I made the decision to stay in California and I accepted my invitation to the MFA program at CCA. I don't believe in god but I do believe that my aunt and my grandfather set this up for me- they saved me. 

So on October 16 my brother and I are told we are both positive for the BRCA1 genetic mutation. It took us a minute to process, we asked questions and then went home. Unlike the men in family, us women run a much higher risk of getting breast cancer (ALTHOUGH THIS DOESN'T MEAN MEN CAN'T GET BREAST CANCER).  After the test results I was asked to come back in two days to do "just a regular check up." At the time I was 24 and since that's such a young age they weren't really concerned about much but they did just want to check my breast, by hand, and talk to me about regular check ups etc. 

This sweet photograph is from that day. My husband couldn't come with me but my best friend Vanessa and her son Kai held my hand through it all.

I remember getting to UCSF and not feeling worried. I felt like this was just another regular check up and everything was going to be okay. Except it ended up not being ok at all. My doctor felt a bump on my right breast, (the same side where the underarm rash appeared). She then ordered a biopsy where they would basically remove some cells and test them for cancer. 

MY FIRST BIOPSY

On October 22nd I had my first biopsy. Essentially they stab you with a long sharp needle while also looking at the ultra sound to target the area where they believe the mass is. Honestly I can't look at these pictures without crying. This was the MOST painful part of this process. The anxiety, the fear, the anger... it all came down to this moment of pain where my cells were being removed from my body. The procedure left small puncture wounds on my breast but that was all. A few days later my results came in. The doctor called and said we were all good!!!! No cancer, no mutating cells. God I thought I was going to die, but I was okay. I cried so hard and felt so much relief. 

I had to admit that I had the BEST care possible at UCSF. My doctors were so thorough and loving. They did everything they need to make sure I would be okay without overlooking anything. So when they suggested that we do one last MRI to confirm that my breast were clear of masses I though absolutely nothing of it. 

FIRST MRI 

November 8, 2018

I felt so good about myself after finding out that the first mass was absolutely benign. This day of my MRI I was confident and happy that this was almost over. I couldn't believe that something that started with my underarm had turned into all of these appointments, exams and visits to UCSF. Although I was exhausted, and SCARED SHITLESS, I was happy. I was grateful that I had the chance to have my body examined, (early), and that I wasn't going to face the paint that took my auntie from me. 

The MRI was easy. They injected my veins with a liquid that would basically make anything suspicious glow. After the procedure I felt nauseous and couldn't walk straight. I had made the mistake of going alone so I ended up having to take an Uber back to my apartment. 

I will also admit it's hard for me to ask for help. I didn't want to burden people with my health problems so I never asked anyone to join me... not even my husband. I've always done things on my on my own terms. This didn't feel any different, but looking back now I wish I would've asked for more support. I wish I could've been brave enough to ask for help.

NOVEMBER 13, 2018 : ANOTHER MASS 

After the MRI I went home feeling good. A couple days later the doctor calls again. Hoping that she's giving me good news I answer excitedly. Then she tells me there's a decent size mass that was detected by the MRI. Fuck, I'm crying as I'm wiring this.... I was so scared. I held it together on the phone but as soon as I ended the call I cried so hard. I swear I thought this was going to be the end of me. I couldn't call my mom and dad. I couldn't give them the news. I just couldn't do it. How do you tell your mom and your dad that you might have cancer at 24? This also meant another biopsy.. did I mention that biopsies are FUCKING terrible? 

I went in on November 13 and they used lidocaine to numb the area. The lidocaine didn't work, so they gave me more. After giving me 4X the amount of lidocaine I told the doctor to go in there, grab the cells she needed and to "get the fuck out of my breast before I get up and punch you in the face." I was in so much pain I cried through the procedure. And to top it off I was alone again. Did I mention I'm stubborn and hate relying on emotional support from people? Yeah so I'm scared shitless, I'm in pain and I basically threatened my doctor. 

I went home exhausted and hopeless. I continued to cry and feel like this was the end of my life. At this point I begun sharing my story with my friends on Instagram and I was quickly flooded with support from people. Those comments and words of encouragement really got me through these though times, so I want to thank you all who took the time to support me. 

I came home and I cried like I've never cried before. This was the tiny incision where the needle went in. I spent time with my husband and my family and I tried to not think about the next phone call from my doctor. At this point I had begun grad school and I was having to deal with going to school while also wondering what was going on with my body. Going through cancer related procedures and going to school isn't for everyone. I was asked to take a semester off and everyone in my program recommended that I paused grad school, but if you know me you know that NOT how I roll. The world might be ending but I finish everything that I start and I was not about to give up on grad school. That was never an option, so I went on with my daily routines. I worked out, I went to school I made art and I cried in between. 

I can't stress how important it is to let your emotions flow during these times. I, more than anyone else, wanted to be strong but the truth of the matter is that we cannot always be the pillars of the family. It was hard but I had to accept that I was not the strong independent woman I had always been during this time. 


A few days go by and my doctor calls with the results. They weren't bad but they weren't good. She said the mass was NOT cancerous but that the cells were mutating and that with my BRCA1+ gene I had a 96% chance of developing breast cancer in the next 5-10 years. 


Hoorayyyy? 


So what happens now I asked? 

AND here's why I love UCSF so much- they said it's up to you. You decide what happens next. I went in for another appointment to talk about my options and here what I was given:


DO NOTHING: No surgery just regular MRI check ups every 6 months and wait until something was detected then go in for cancer treatment... chemo?

HAVE SURGERY: Remove my breast and lower my chances of breast cancer to 5%

IF I had surgery I could choose between:

1. Going flat -  no reconstruction + no nipples

2. Reconstruction -  One surgery to remove breast tissue, another surgery to put in expanders, save the nipple, then a third surgery to put in silicone implants. 

3. Reconstruction in ONE LONG surgery - remove breast tissue, open stomach and remove fat tissue then transfer to breast and close up without nipples.


FINDING A SURGEON 

I had made my choice: surgery without reconstruction just going flat without nipples. On November 28 I met with a doctor who I thought would be my surgeon. He made me feel good about my choice and I was excited to move forward with removing my breast because it meant I would lower my chances of suffering in the same way that my auntie did. We tried to schedule the surgery ASAP but insurance problems came about and it halted the process. They wanted to move me to a doctor in Napa but I wasn't comfortable with that so I fought them on that. Then they didn't want to cover my surgery so my doctors wrote letters and explained the urgency of my surgery. Later we had the surgery approved, covered by insurance and ready to go when my surgeon announced that he would be moving to NYC! FUCKKKKKKK! Ok.... now what? 

This all happened between November of 2018 until March of 2019 by the way. I summed it up quickly but fighting the insurance was a LOOONG process and then I lost my surgeon. By the grace of the universe my case landed on Dr. Esther Kim's desk and she took it. 

Dr. Kim is the head of the Plastic & Reconstructive surgery for Transgender Care at UCSF. While I was skeptical at first I then realized that this mean she would pay extra attention to my body. She would not only reconstruct my breast with care but she would give me a result that I would feel happy and comfortable with.

This changed my mind and I chose to do reconstruction with my own stomach fat (still no nipples). Although I was angry at my first surgeon for dipping out I later felt grateful to have landed in the hands of Dr.Kim and her team.  We move forward and schedule my double mastectomy for March 20th of 2019. 

THE DAY BEFORE SURGERY: MARCH 19, 2019

The day before surgery I spent it with Rocio Rivera- she's a bomb photographer. Check her out on Insta: @rociorivera. She photographed me that day and I will forever be thankful for those photographs because they captured the last moment that I felt whole. 

God I was nervous the night before. I couldn't sleep and I cried more than before. I wasn't scared of going through the surgery but I was terrified of how my body would change. I felt that I worked so hard to have a healthy body that I loved. I was running 15-20 miles a day. I would spend 45min - 1hr at the gym everyday. I ate healthy and didn't drink too much. How could this happen to me? I was angry at the world and felt sad to be loosing part of myself. 

I wondered if men would be attracted to me anymore? Would not having nipples make me a complete freak? How was my husband going to look at me? What if he left me? How would I ever date anyone ever again? Would sex be different? Who would want to sleep with me anymore? The anxiety ran through my body and left me sleepless, but I woke up the next day and I made it to UCSF.  

Oh! One last thing I did that night was make molds of my nipples. Weird? Well I'm an artist so nothing is really weird. I wanted to have a last impression of my nipples before they would leave my body forever. To this day I still haven't done anything with them but I'm super happy I made them. 

I also braided my hair! 

PRO TIP: Braid your hair before surgery. As someone who has long hair having braids really helps stay clean and it keeps the hair off your chest and face. 

MORNING OF THE SURGERY

We got to UCSF at 6am. Filled out paperwork and sat in the waiting room for a while. Then they took me back to prep me for surgery.

I don't do well when I'm scared so I try to be funny. I laugh at everything because I'm nervous, so here's a pic of me being a goof.

A bunch of surgeons and nurses came in to introduce themselves. My surgery included over 6 surgeons and their nurses. It was a huge team!! My plastic surgeon, Dr. Kim, came in to draw on me. She made the marks where they would be making the cuts. I felt like a piece of steak and I laughed so hard. I was terrified. One important thing to note was that during these surgeries doctors will sometimes use these opportunity to remove pieces of your body to study them. A doctor came in and asked me to sign a form of consent for them to remove part of my muscle wall to study. He didn't really ask me if I was ok with it he just said to sign "here," of course this didn't sit well with me. I asked what it was for and he said "studies" so I said "fuck no I do not consent to any part of my body being removed for studies." He was shocked but respected my choice. I then heard another doctor yell and ask "did she sing the consent form?"  he replied "no she wants to opt out" and the other dude was shocked! TRUCHHAAA pay attention to what doctors are doing and to the things you are signing. 

These were my final moments. My mother hugged me and Nelson kissed me goodbye. Then I was wheeled away into the OR drugged out of my mind. 

MARCH 21 2019

I wake up from surgery! The whole thing took 14 hours, but everything went smoothly!!! My stomach fat was transferred to my chest without a problem and my breast tissue was removed in the first 2 hours of surgery. When transferring any tissue in the body there's always a chance that it won't survive so I was extremely happy to hear that my flaps had made it through the surgery with blood flowing freely! The next few days were spent at the hospital in the care of amazing nurses. I was given a lot of medication for the pain. I suffered through a lot nausea and spent a lot of time sleeping. 

I won't lie I was terrified of looking at my chest. I didn't want to see what had happened to me, but I eventually did and it broke me apart. Nelson, my husband, was there every single second of the day. He never left my side and truthfully I feel like I fell in love with him all over again. The amount of love and support that he gave me was unbelievable. 

A few days later I came home. My giant Mexican blanket waited for me when I arrived. I though I would be sleeping on my bed but because my stomach was cut open in half I wasn't able to lay down properly. Luckily my parents have a recliner and I proceeded to sleep there for more than a month until I could start stretching my stomach again. During this time I cried a lot. I hated my body. I remember just bursting into tears and not being able to stop. I spent a lot of time alone wondering if I had made the right choice. 

I also had a lot of amazing family and friends that came to keep me company. Michael and Tatiana, Brenda, Sarah, my cousins Christopher and Brandon, all of any siblings, Kathy who brought me sushi,  my longest friend Clara and her daughter Hana. Karen was also a crucial part of my recovery and surgery. She spent everyday with Nelson in the hospital and never left my side. I love you Karen!!!! 

WHAT DID THE SURGERY LOOK LIKE?  

Remember how I said that my stomach would be cut open and the fat would be taken out to reconstruct my breast? Well before surgery I had gotten a beautiful crocodile tattoo by Xiucoalt Mejia. This tattoo was removed in order to make the surgery happen and that's why I had my stomach cut open in half. The neat thing about this process was that Dr. Kim was able to take the eyes of the crocodile and put them on my chest as my new nipples. Here's a before and after pic. 

MARCH 27 2019

I step out of the house for the first time. Walking very very slowly I made it down the street like 20 steps from the front door. I still had all the drains that had to be cleaned twice a day- my husband did an incredible job. I basically cried every time he cleaned them because it hurt like hell. I was truly traumatized. 

Here's a list of things that helped during this time:

-Dry shampoo 

-Hand and body wipes Showers are hard the first few days. 

-Old lady gowns to sleep in. I basically lived in these for 6 weeks. Make sure they have the buttons on the front. My mom got me some at Walmart since I would only use them for a little bit. 

-Scissor clip thingies  These kept my drains in place on my gowns. Seriously the MOST important thing to have after surgery. I got mine form UCSF but if your hospital doesn't have them definitely get them specially if you'll have drains. 

-Slippers and warm socks

-Hydroflask to drink lots & lots of water!

-Athleta Post Mastectomy Bra  As someone who works out a lot this bra was amazing!!! 

MY FIRST SHOWER 

I was so excited for my first shower. My mother in law actually jumped in with me and helped me wash myself because I was helpless. My husband warmed up my towels and made sure everything was perfect for me. I was blessed with the most loving team of people. Moments after my shower I was covered in hives. Every part of my body from my stomach incision to my throat was covered in red bumps. I completely freaked out and called my surgeons right away. They said it was NOT normal and asked me to come into to see them ASAP.

My whole body was itchy and I was so so scared I lost my mind. I didn't know what was wrong with me and that made me more paranoid. The drains were still in and to add to it I was in horrible pain. The doctors asked me to stop taking medication just in case that was the problem. So now I'm on no medication, covered in a rash, rushing to SF in a stupid amount of pain.

THE EMERGENCY ROOM 

We left our house at 4pm got to the ER at 5pm and waited until 7pm in the hallway to be seen by a doctor. Meanwhile we are surrounded by a bunch of drug hungry homeless people who are screaming and crowding the emergency room of UCSF. It was clear I had recently had surgery and I was in pain but no one paid attention to me. I told the nurse my doctors were upstairs and they needed to be called, however she didn't know how to do her job, so I had to jump on my cell and call my doctors to let them know I was downstairs in the ER waiting for them. When they came down the ER doctor fought them and wanted to take over because I was in her "territory." My surgeons laughed and basically told her to fuck off this was their case and they would handle it. It's probably 10pm now I've been off meds for probably 8 hours, haven't eaten, my body is itchy and I'm going crazy not knowing what is causing the allergic reaction. Then they decide to remove the drains in an attempt to rule out things one by one.

The drains are out! What a relief. It was actually not painful at all. I was so scared for this part because I had read that it was really painful but my doctors did an incredible job and I didn't feel a thing. By then it was probably 12am, when we realized exactly what was wrong with me. I am allergic to medical glue, which they used a shit ton of, on both my breast and my stomach to close me up. When I showered the warm water activated the glue and it caused an allergic reaction all over my body!! Hahaha, so silly but it was real. We left the ER around 1pm after they had drugged me beyond comprehension trying to get rid of my rash. Nelson and I left exhausted. We were emotionally and physically drained. We drove to our favorite taco spot in the mission, La Oaxaqueña, ordered tacos and cried with each other. We were so happy to leave the ER and to be back on the road to recovery.  

Everything after the ER went smooth. People came and visited. My mother in law got me a chair to sit outside in. I still had drains one my sides but those were later removed and I felt better. I continued to recover and cry. I really felt like I was mourning my body and my confidence. After trying to stop myself from crying my mother in law sat down with me and explained how important it was that I processed my emotions. After that I truly felt like I could let it all out. 

THIS GUY DESERVES AN AWARD! 

APRIL 14 2019

I start feeling much much better. Scars start healing and I put on makeup for the first time!! At this point my life starts going back to normal and things slowly transition to a place where I start accepting my body again. 

MAY 2ND 2019

My doctor allows me to start fast walking again and I celebrate by running 3 whole miles!

AUGUST 2019

Dr. Kim gives me the green light to get tattooed again and I rushed down south to see my favorite family - The Mejias! Antonio worked on a design to honor my body and culture. We are currently still working on this tattoo as my skin has become extremely sensitive in that area making it difficult to tattoo for long periods of time. Keep up with it on my instagram and check out Antonio's work. He's the master @smg_antonio_gtc


NOW.... HERE'S SOME SHIT I'M REALLY SCARED TO TALK ABOUT 

CRYING IN THE DRESSING ROOM

For the first few months after surgery I couldn't find a single thing to wear. No one tells you how much your body will change to the point where all of your clothes won't fit anymore. I went from having no boobs to having big boobs and my shirts fit awkwardly. I needed new bras but regular bras don't work for mastectomy patients... so shopping to say the least was a fucking nightmare. I would feel motivated to go find pants that fit and when I went to the store to try on pants I'd cry because it would truly hit me that I no longer had my body. High waisted jeans are still better for me now a days because anything that sits on my scar hurts too much. I never thought I'd be into the mom jean but it's my favorite now. I feel like I have to choose between that or leggings. I remember spending the summer looking for a dress for a wedding and thinking that I didn't care how much I spent on a stupid dress as long as it fit right. I cried in several dressing rooms feeling angry and sad because my body had been destroyed. I never found anything I liked and I'm still having problems finding the right things to wear. I don't know that crying in the fitting room will ever change because every time I take off my shirt I am reminded of the trauma. 

CRYING IN THE LOCKER ROOM

When I was cleared to go back to training I remember being so excited to head back to SF Fitness, my local gym. I rushed there and when I had to face a harsh reality. I felt like I was back in middle school in the girls locker room and everyone there was judging my body. I was so ashamed to take off my shirt fearing that women would look at me and wonder if I was transgender, which I know is fucked up because there's absolutely nothing wrong with that, but I didn't want people to confuse my sexuality because of my fake breast and lack of nipples. I felt so exposed that I spent the first few days crying in the locker room bathroom. I couldn't face having to take my shirt off in front of other women. I didn't want to be judged and I wanted to run and hide. Since then I've stopped going to the gym. I'm mostly training at home and that's helped me feel more comfortable. I realize no one should ever feel this way but I don't know what to do to change that for myself or anyone else. 

SEX AFTER SURGERY 

I'm sure you're all wondering  about intimacy and how that's changed since having my nipples and breast removed. Well here's the truth: IT SUCKS. Since the surgery my confidence has just plummeted. There's no need to lie, my confidence is GONE. There is NONE.  I felt like before my surgery I was confident, strong and felt super sexy.  Now I  find it hard to engage in sex. I don't want anyone looking at me, I honestly rather just stay away from all that. I think it's probably the same thing as the locker room- I don't want to be judged. I don't want to give anyone even the slight chance of being disgusted by me. Not even the people that I trust.


I know my body is not disgusting and I'm proud of how far I've come but at the end of the day when someone touches me I immediately go to thinking "is he wondering where my nipples are? does he like my breast? is he thinking of someone else right now? is my scar disgusting to him? etc." and before I know it I'm more consumed with how horrible my body is that I am no longer engaged. 

Sex is fucking hard.

I'm crying as I write this because I realize that I haven't gotten over these thoughts. I miss my body so much. I miss my confidence and I wish I could have it back.

And now I feel like an ungrateful bitch for saying that because my auntie died and she had no choice. I'm sure if she were given the option she would be in my position instead of dying and leaving her children behind. 


The first few times, after surgery, I couldn't even do it. I just cried. My husband was extremely supportive and 1000% patient with me. He would touch me and I would just cry. There were a lot of nights that he just held me and I cried on his chest. 

 I haven't gotten over that part and I don't know how to put words to how I feel. I feel pressured to get to the part where I've overcome my relationship to sex but truthfully I'm not there. 

I also feel like there's pressure to be the same person I was (sexually) before the surgery, but I can't ignore the fact that everything has changed for me and I am not that person anymore. I'm not really into the things I was into before. I hate having my shirt taken off and I hate being vulnerable with everyone and anyone. It's only been 1 year and like anything else I try to tell myself it's going to get better with time. 

BUT if I can add one last thing it would be that I would do it all over again 1000000 times just to be alive.

RANDOM THINGS THAT HAVE CHANGED

I hate when my stomach is touched. It's so sensitive that any kind of pressure feels extremely uncomfortable.

I also hate brushing my hair because when the bristles brush up against my chest it feels awful. It doesn't hurt but it doesn't feel good.

I hate being cold. That sensation you get when your nipples harden up feels really weird now. Sine I don't have nipples the energy just hangs around my breast like a ghost with no where to go. 

My body oder has changed drastically. I used to be able to workout and not smell at all, but since the surgery my hormones have become imbalanced and wack throwing off my body oder and sexual drive. 

Having a "tummy tuck" is not worth it. A lot of women talk about how the positive side of having reconstruction with your own breast is that you get a tummy tuck. That's bullshit. The stomach incision hurts the most and the first month your back hurts so much from not being able to stand up straight. I don't understand why any women would go through with a tummy tuck for aesthetic reasons. I rather workout a million hours. 

PUBLICLY VIOLATED 

At some point during my recovery I was at a local drinking spot with my family and husband. We were playing pool and having a beer when someone, who I hadn't talked to in years, came up to me and said hello. This same person then proceeded to lift up my shirt and show the entire bar my chest. Because I was still in recover and bras were not comfortable I was completely exposed.

This moment was one that was extremely hard for me to process.

It's one thing for me to publicly share my story and to share pictures of my chest on social media but it became a totally different story when someone else decided to expose the trauma on my body in a public setting. I was so speechless I didn't know how to react. To this day I don't quite understand what happened or what I did to deserve that. Although I am sharing personal photographs of my story it doesn't mean I'm totally comfortable sharing my body in public. Like I said before I'm so scared of being judged and of being made fun of for the way my body looks. It still hurts me a lot to put myself out there like this, but ultimately I know that there will be 1 or 2 of you out there who read my story and find some comfort in it. If you or anyone you know is going through genetic testing, cancer or a mastectomy know that I am here to help in any way shape or form that I can. Not everyone in the world will hurt you and expose you inappropriately. I have met many amazing women who have made this transition easier for me. Monica Haro @Monicawashere was my saving grace in a time when I needed a mother figure and someone to give me advice. She listened to, let me cry on her shoulder and brought me Girl Scout cookies when I was at my lowest.  

PLEASE SEND COMMENTS & QUESTIONS THROUGH EMAIL. 

Do not contact me on Instagram (I get easily overwhelmed and don't answer them) Email me with any questions and if you're going through BRCA1 testing or any procedure and need support please reach out!!! 

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