Last year as our nation “celebrated” breast cancer awareness month, my family, friends, and I became even more acutely aware of breast cancer than most who bought a pink-topped yogurt container. Having received my PhD doing breast cancer research, I understood all too well when my surgeon told me that the pathology of my cyst aspiration earlier in the week revealed Triple Negative Breast Cancer. At that moment, I knew what stood before me: chemo and double mastectomy for sure, maybe radiation. With the incredible, overwhelming support of my friends, family, and medical team, I went through 16 weeks of chemo and a double mastectomy. After surgery, the pathology revealed a complete response– no cancer left! No radiation for me! Just two days after we did this photo shoot, I had my final reconstructive surgery, and I am now on my way to a full recovery.
That first weekend after my diagnosis, talking to my husband, we decided that we would own this. Cancer didn’t have to define me, but I wasn’t hiding it, either. I would be the same me, only with less hair! I’ve always been one to put more effort into my appearance when I’m going to have a tough day, and this past year has been no different. In fact, I was determined not to look sick. With no long hair to hide behind, making sure I was wearing a bold lipstick and a fabulous pair of shoes was even more important to me. I did my best to look healthy, and I never felt like anyone looked on me with pity. I have a mean independent streak, and I had to learn to let my friends and family help me. Help I didn’t mind, but pity I didn’t want. Taking the time to put on some lipstick made it easier for people to see past the cancer patient and treat me like me.
Now that I’ve been declared healthy, I’m eager to use my background and my experiences to help other women facing a breast cancer diagnosis, and blogging at Run Lipstick Chemo has helped me start making those connections. But right now, I’m really looking forward to a healthy October, being able to watch all those pink ribbon commercials, knowing that breast cancer is behind me.
Stay tuned next week for a feature on Jamie’s beauty look by Bellacara!