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Finding strength in adversity

May 9, 2013
Butterfly image by mk* at

Butterfly by mk* at

I had a visit to speak to one of the nurses about the breast reconstruction operation and stay in hospital. I have been feeling pretty okay about my situation recently, but during my talk with the nurse she showed me some pictures of what breasts look like post surgery after different time intervals. The only pictures I had seen prior to this were in a book a different nurse had lent me showing images of women after all procedures had been fully completed. They looked really good, not what I was expecting, so that helped to allay me fears a bit.

But the post op pictures threw me. They weren’t what I was expecting and initially I felt they made me anxious again. They weren’t frightening, or gross – just not as ‘okay’ as I would have anticipated. Later procedures can reconstruct the nipple and get the breast looking pretty normal, but  I wasn’t sure how I would be dealing with seeing my breast in the early weeks.

After the chat my mind felt like mush again, the pictures had an effect on me.

My journey home was a thoughtful one, but I came to some conclusions. Firstly, I’m in this situation.  I think that’s the first thing to fully accept. It might seem obvious, but so often we fight against situations and don’t fully accept them.  My not liking it, being angry, wanting it to not be happening to me is irrelevant. The situation exists, I am in it. Only by accepting it 100% can I move forward and deal with it.

Once I had realised this, I found myself being able to think about how to make the absolute best of it. The key is, I believe, not to see an adverse situation as something negative, and dwell in sad, or self-pitying thoughts. It won’t  change the situation one little bit, just make the passage through it darker. The only thing you can do to get through it is say yes, this is what’s happening, but how am I going to react and be mentally and emotionally in this? How am I going to let it affect my life?

I think by going through this mental process,  in the space of a train journey, I have reached a place where I am okay with what’s happening, and I’m not going to let it darken my skies, or set me back. I’m lucky to not have a terminal condition, so my life will go on, and how that life will be will depend on how I make the best of it. It’s all up to me. And I’m determined it will be the best possible.


From → Thoughts

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