Reflections ~ Biopsy Results: Gratitude Journal #9

20120402-193844.jpg

This past week has been very emotional! I spent most of it waiting for my biopsy results. I was in good shape for the most part, until Wednesday came. I felt anxiety creeping in as I began to think about how these results were going to change my life. I waited for the Nurse Practitioner to call me with the results and the morning whirled by and my anxiety began rising. The office’s lunch period quickly came and went and I decided to call if I hadn’t heard from her by 2:00pm.

Finally, the call I’d waited for six days finally came. I was so nervous as I answered the telephone. My stomach was in knots as I thought about the possibilities that were before me. Benign or Cancerous? Radiation or Chemo and a Full Hysterectomy, or just a Full Hysterectomy. I gasped for air as she began explaining the results of my biopsy. She stated that what looked like fibroid tissue was in fact endometrial tissue growing deep with in the uterine wall. The baffling thing is there was no blood source attached to the growth, but the great thing about the mass was it was COMPLETELY BENIGN!

BENIGN. Yes, it was benign! I was transferred to the scheduler to get my Hysterectomy date, and we confirmed May 10th. I will stay over at the hospital for one night and then I will be released to go home and all of this ordeal will be OVER!!!!

I spent Wednesday night celebrating my results! I called friends, sent text messages and took pictures to remember this moment. I needed to remember THIS moment! I needed to remember how I was feeling at the moment I heard that the mass within me was benign. I will always remember this moment and I am so grateful that I have had a wonderful medical team that always listens to me and advocates for my best health.

I am so grateful for my family and friends for their support. I am especially grateful that this entire process will soon be a part of my past.

I do not have uterine cancer — whew it feels great to be able to say that! But I have to acknowledge the thousands of women that are diagnosed with uterine cancer and cervical cancer because my heart pours out to you. The mental anguish that one suffers through the discovery process is unbelievable. My prayers are with you and your families!

Advertisements

Gratitude Journal #8 ~ What Lies Ahead of Me

  • Image

I am grateful for the week behind me and the week ahead of me.

Last week was a busy, busy week! I had many appointments, not just medical appointments, too many in fact. I went to the my Gynocologist, my surgeon, and to get my labs done. I lost 3 pounds since my unsuccessful biopsy on last week (March 7, 2012) and I am scheduled for my Hysteroscopy on March 22, 2012. I met with my bible study group for encouragement and I found myself feeling a little self-centered and pitiful, my anxiety was rising but they pepped me right on up and reminded me that I have so many other things to focus on and my goal should be to help others even during this time! So with last week’s appointments behind me I am starting this week with with a renew focus on being positive while providing a bit of cancer education.

So this week I am booked solid with yet more pre-op appointments. Today was blood work, tomorrow will be my primary care physician and then a pregnancy test in order to get signed off for surgery on Thursday. After that I will have approximately one week of waiting to find out if I have uterine cancer. It still seems surreal, but I am grateful that I am insured. I am grateful for the outpouring of love from my friends. I am grateful that GOD strengthens me daily to complete the tasks at hand. I am grateful that these cells have been detected early and I am so grateful that I know how to fight for my life!

I am grateful that I am in the hands of good doctors, I am loved, and I will get through this challenge just as I have done with all the other challenges in my life. I will be stronger, wiser and I will survive!

Reflections ~ Waiting to Find Out If I Have Uterine Cancer

20120307-175622.jpg

Today is March 7th and my long-awaited biopsy date is here. I am sitting in the hallway of the Medical Building. I am patiently impatiently waiting to get this show on the road.

Yesterday my doctor’s office called me at 6:30am to see if I could have my biopsy done, but I had no one to drive me back from the appointment so I declined and stayed with my original appointment. So here I am today, sitting, calmly waiting, anticipating the results of this biopsy that hasn’t even been taken yet.

My husband’s full with nervous energy. He is carrying so much weight on his shoulders. He is the sole bread-winner of our family at this time, the guy who tries not to wear his emotions on his sleeves. He has failed today. His focus is non-existent as he tries to mask his fears. His energy is bound up tight and ready to explode. I don’t need or want to be nervous now. I have been really good at keeping my anxiety at bay through this process and I’d like to keep it that way.

***

My oldest son came and stay and visit with me and we talked about how excited he is to start at his new college in the Fall. We got his tax paperwork together and he left for his appointment to get his taxes done.

I went by my youngest daughter’s school to pick up her report card. She is doing well in her classes, in fact she made the honor roll with a 3.33 GPA. We have managed to keep her and her other brother unaware of this current health scare, but today she really wanted leave school with us. She begged to come with me to the doctor ~ in her little mind she knows something is not right. I decided not to burden her with extra stress unless the results come back positive. She and her brother will be allowed to enjoy their childhood as much as they can for as long as they can and if this result is negative then the less they know about the process the better.

***

It’s 3:29pm now and I am waiting in the office now. All checked in and ready to rock and roll! The ladies in waiting are gone from the couches and they smiled politely as they lovingly pat their bellies after their OB/GYN check ups. But I sit here reflecting on the many times that I was excited to walk into this office, yet today I sit here dreading the music, the magazines and the cheerful staff. The pregnant bellies remind me of happier times, times before my body revolted against me.

My name was just called, so I am now in the outpatient medical suite. My blood pressure is 114/70 and I’ve lost 6 pounds since my doctor told me that she thought I might have uterine cancer on Valentine’s Day, believe me I didn’t see that coming! It must be stress weight loss because I have certainly been eating a little naughtier than usual.

The walls are thin here or either the ultrasound machine in the next room is against the wall. I can hear a baby’s heartbeat and I begin to calm down and then I remember I am over 40 and there will be no more babies for me! I have had my time and I have had my kids. It’s time for the next phase in my life. I hope that this phase will begin as a non-cancerous pre-menopausal phrase. Based on the results of this biopsy, I will either have a full hysterectomy if these cells are cancerous or I will have a partial hysterectomy if these cells are not cancerous. Either way, I am entering the post child-bearing phase of my life and I have to be okay with that.

My doctor greets me and goes over my 3D ultrasound results from the hospital, which identifies a large area of abnormal cells in the uterine wall. She goes and tell me that since I have had an ablation previously scar tissue may prohibit her from getting a clear biopsy today and if that is the case I would need to reschedule and be checked into the hospital for a Hysteroscopy.

“WTF,” I think to myself.

So I sit on the table and get two shots in my cervix and a rod to dilate my cervix.  She adjusts the rod which is supposed to help my cervix dilate and no luck.  She gently (gently according to her my cervix begs to differ) readjusts the rod and again no luck.  She smiles at me after this 10 minute adventure and pats my leg and she tells me that I will have to go to the hospital to have the Diagnostic Hysteroscopy to be done and I will be put under general anesthesia.

FML!

Her assistant comes in to re-check my blood pressure while I lay half-naked on the table with tears flowing uncontrollably now as I ponder yet more waiting to determine if the beast known as cancer is back. My blood pressure is 124/76. I am fine to get dressed and go home. I’m sent home with Motrin for cramping and pain.

My doctor says I will be contacted within the week to schedule my appointment for my outpatient Diagnostic Hysteroscopy.  I leave the Medical Building in complete frustration and I begin to laugh through my tears as I think about all of the things that are at my fingertips.

I reflect on how we live in an instant society. We make choices on a daily basis so that we do not have to wait to satisfy our desire for information. Patience has truly been lost within me and waiting is unbearable. In an instant I can have the latest music, breaking news, iBooks, the internet.  I can have it all after a few quick key stokes on my computer or iPhone but yet I have to fucking wait for 2-3 more weeks to find out what the hell is wrong with me!  Yet for me, at least for the next few weeks the waiting continues.

FUCK CANCER!

Post Script: I know that some people will view this post as too much information, but I am writing these posts to encourage others to make sure that they stay on top of their health and hopefully this will help inform others about this type of cancer. As a breast cancer survivor, I am at risk to other types of cancer. Seven years ago I had a uterine ablation done to treat fibroids, so effectively I have no uterine wall for abnormal cells to adhere to, but I currently have a mass of abnormal cells in my uterus ~ go figure huh? I think this post script brings you up to date if you wish to follow along with my story.


Gratitude Journal #3 for Dr. Susan Niebur

I wrote Curt Niebur a letter by hand this morning. Yes, Curt is Susan’s husband, so that affectionately makes him whydaddy by default. I had to write him and tell him how blessed I felt that I had the privilege of knowing his wife. Susan died on Monday, February 6, 2012 at the same time as I was burying my “son” Rich. I am comforted in knowing that he was there to great her when she passed.

My words are probably of little comfort to him today, but I hope that one day he will realize that Susan’s life reached thousands of people, dare I say hundreds of thousands of people. Her thoughts and experiences reached and touched people that never had the courage to write her but devoured her every word. Her life had purpose and impact on her family, community, cancer community and of course the blogosphere.

Those of us that did reach out to the heavenly star we knew as Susan, were received warmly, in spite of her daily suffering and pain. She braved a smile for us, she comforted us, she informed us and she lived for all of us. She inspired me in my everyday life and my writing (http://mommagazine.ca/Articles/SammiLove/15Waystohelp.htm) and I often made reference to her and I’d Tweet a Diet Coke toast to her during her treatments. She was a FIGHTER! She was a FRIEND! She was the best and brightest color of the rainbow (PURPLE) and she certainly lights the night as one of heavens brightest stars!

I am grateful for your life, your work, your support, your friendship and you will truly be missed Susan. But you will live on in the sky and forever in my heart!

Love you to infinity and beyond,
Sammie

20120210-184352.jpg
Rest In Heaven Among the Stars

Song of the Week ~ Wind Beneath My Wings

By the time you read this scheduled blog. I will be sitting at my twenty-one year old “son’s” funeral. The last few days have been an emotional roller coaster to say the very least. While I am so grateful for Richard’s love and presence in my life, I have found myself angry. Bitterly angry! Angry at CANCER. Angry at lost moments. And dare I say it? Yes, I was even angry at GOD.

This week wasn’t all sad. I know GOD has been here with me carrying me through. I have stopped being mad at him and I continue to ask for his peace that transcends all of my human understanding. There was an ebb and flow to the week. It was rocky, it was joyous. I celebrated life and I celebrated death. I remembered “my baby,” @whymommy (Susan), and all of the other folks that have struggled and fought with Stage Four Cancer and I felt guilty as I remembered my miniature non-invasive battle. It was you who fought the good fight. It is both of you that will always remain my hero as you smiled and took your chemo, educated the masses about invasive cancer and always tried to make others be alright with coming to terms with your life coming to an end.

Saturday was a consistent ride on a wave of emotions. Our family woke up early to begin the difficult day and my daughter unfortunately still had painful hives on her feet, arms and torso but the first thing she said was, “This game is for Rich and my team, Mom.” My daughter’s soccer team went on to win their soccer championship. This was quite a fete because they are now undefeated for two years straight! We celebrated their success, just like we knew Rich would. He loved to win! I celebrated with my daughter and I was astounded that she managed to play in such pain. Smiling and defending the goal, helping her team to victory, just as Rich had done so many times. Yesterday he truly was the wind beneath our wings. A few hours later I found myself sitting at Cypress Lawn for his Rosary. Staring at Rich in his casket, wedding ring on his finger and his son’s favorite blanket at his side. He is at peace finally. No more pain. No more meds. No more suffering. It is those of us that know and love him that will continue to rely on the rays of sunshine that he provided in our lives.

Farewell my handsome Prince Rich ~ you are gone too soon.

Midnight Sun, Lofoten by William H. Johnson

Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Not only does October 1st begins Breast Cancer Awareness Month, it also begins a season of hope for cancer research and hope for a cure. I could go on and on about the importance of taking care of yourself and doing monthly self-examinations of your breast but I am going to leave you with this thought, the breast you squeeze can actually save your life! Take time to have your annual breast Mammogram after the ago of forty or younger if your Mother or Grandmother died of Breast Cancer. Yes, it’s temporarily uncomfortable but as uncomfortable as fighting for life against cancer.

This month I will be posting reflections about cancer, lots of facts about cancer and providing resources for cancer survivors. I promise it’s not a time to sulk, it’s a time to come together and celebrate cancer survivors and create opportunities to love and support those currently in the fight for there lives!

I think we all agrees that CANCER SUCKS but together we can help KICK CANCERS ASS! Join me, tell friends, show up in pink on Fridays at your office and show everyone that you are on a mission to SAVE THE TA-TA’S!!!

Love,
Sammie
XOXO

Song of the Week — YES by Musiq Soulchild

Music has the power transcend you from your current mood and transport you to a magical place or carry you away to a great memory from your past.  Music’s influence and power are so profound in my life that I am truly honored to pay homage to the songs that have influenced me, carry me through difficult time or plain just make me forget my age and make me shake my tail-feather!

Enjoy as I begin to take you on an eclectic musical journey.

Love,

Sammie

I just saw this video this morning and I was absolutely floored! I always loved the song but seeing this video through the eyes of a woman who has lived with cancer — it is just mind-blowing.

The intimate relationship between partners dramatically shifts once cancer enters the picture. It is not just a journey for the woman with breast cancer, it affects everyone surrounding her — but most especially her partner who usually silently struggles with her while battling their own fears, insecurities, feelings of loss and uncertainty. Some relationships don’t survive cancer but for those that do, it is truly a blessing to know “The answer is yes, I’ll still think you’re beautiful…”

“Yes” Lyrics by Musiq Soulchild

Let me get this out the way
so there ain’t no complications
later on for us, no
Look, I know things don’t stay the same
People grow and seasons change, but
when it comes to love
don’t you feel like
you ever gotta worry about
my feelings changing for you all the time
’cause when I say I’m here
girl, I mean it.

So when the world and the odds are against us
you won’t have to question,
The answer is yes.

When 2 or 3 years from now
you start having some doubts
about if this love will last
The answer is yes.
I’ll still think you’re beautiful
’cause I’m more attracted to what’s inside of you
You don’t have to guess,
The answer is yes.

‘Cause I love you
All I care about is your happiness,
so the answer is yes.

People just don’t stick around (no)
build you up and let you down, but
I’m not one of those, no (girl)
I understand that you’ve been burned (before)
Honesty is what you deserve (so much more) yea
and so that’s what I’m giving you, girl.

So when the world and the odds are against us
you won’t have to question,
The answer is yes
When 2 or 3 years from now
you start having some doubts
about if this love will last
The answer is yes.

I’ll still think you’re beautiful
’cause I’m more attracted to what’s inside of you
You don’t have to guess,
The answer is yes.

Now, if you ask
will I go (no)
when you need me most (no)
the answer is no
I’m dedicated to what we have
but will I be here
the way that I promise
I’ll say with no fear
The answer is yes.

When 2 or 3 years from now
you start having some doubts
about if this love will last
The answer is yes, and
I’ll still think you’re beautiful
’cause I’m more attracted to what’s inside of you
You don’t have to guess,
The answer is yes.

When 2 or 3 years from now
you start having some doubts
about if this love will last
The answer is yes
I’ll still think you’re beautiful
’cause I’m more attracted to what’s inside of you
You don’t have to guess
The answer is yes.

September (A Cancer Reflection)

I woke up anticipating Fall today. The air is crisp. Leaves are beginning to change on the trees on my front and back yards. My children are in already in school. Soccer season has started and here I sit in the waiting room of the Breast Cancer Center waiting for my Mom to complete a test and second mammogram.

I’d like to say this was an abnormal day but it’s not! I’ve spent way to many days sitting in a waiting room just like this one for both myself and my Mom.

Yesterday was my best friend Belle’s birthday and it also marked the one year anniversary of my Mom’s breast cancer surgery. I didn’t celebrate either occasion with an outing. I just felt the need to write and tell both Belle and my Mom exactly what they meant to me. As I wrote notes to each of them and completed an article for a deadline, I just kept hearing Earth Wind and Fire singing “Ba de ya, say you do remember.”

Well I did remember! I remembered that some of the best and worst times of my life took place in September. I remembered that I survived those times and I remembered the love that surrounded me, and my Mom and Belle.

Soon I was singing and remembering: my first true love, Sunday dinners, hope, sweet stolen kisses, high school basketball games, Cal football games, high school dances, FAITH, weddings, mimosas, children born and children lost, courage, music loud and strong like laughter in my soul, the kindness of strangers, FAMILY (birth family and extended family), healing, FAITH, leaves turning, the new school year, new uniforms and clothes for school, FAITH, seasons changing, love changing and life changing!

“Do you remember the 21st night of September?” Pick a year, any year but remember the beginning of Fall and all of it’s splendor. Remember there is a season for everything under heaven. Cherish it! Honor it! Embrace it! Live it! Love it! There is a time for all of us and a reason for each of us to be here on earth and our existence matters. We are more than our enemies negative thoughts. We are more that our daily successes. We were created for a reason and our purpose in life is as specific as each leaf that falls from a tree before fall turns it’s supple branches and brilliant foliage to brittle barren winter twigs.

Well, my Mom is done with her appointment and it looks like we will be coming here more often to suffer, fight and heal. She just scheduled her ultrasound guided biopsy to remove the mass in her right breast and determine its stage of cancer. We will come back here on October 6th.

But for now we will reflect and sing through our September and remember just how much CANCER SUCKS!!!!!

“Do you remember… dancing in September … never was a cloudy day…”

15 Ways to help a Friend or Loved One with Cancer

On November 25, 2009, the day before Thanksgiving I began my fight with Cancer. It seems like a lifetime ago when I was told that the mass that was removed from my breast was cancer. I was 41 years old and I had just gotten the hang of living life in my 40’s. It was shocking to say the least. I was fortunate that it was non-invasive and I required minimal treatment. But I was flabbergasted ten-months later when my Mom was diagnosed with invasive Breast Cancer at the age of 68.

I was determined that my Mom wouldn’t have to deal with the same uneasiness from friends that I had dealt with. It is something about telling friends and family that you have cancer that make everyone uncomfortable. There are long pauses, followed by looks that remind you of when your puppy died when you were a child. There are friends that you normally chat with for hours that are at a loss of words. There are long days filled with medical terms and lots of blah, blah, blah spoken by doctors, radiologists, oncologists, technologists, nurses, etc. that you won’t remember. But I remembered this experience all too well, like it was yesterday and I decided to provide the support that I was given and to also be the support that I WAS NOT GIVEN to my Mom.

Here is my list of 15 ways to help a friend or loved one with cancer and my special way to say I love you and I am thinking about you Susan @whymommy:

  1. Give them lots of gentle HUGS and LOVE! Needless to say, this is a scary time for everyone. Hugs and extra expressions of love go a long way.
  2. Listen as your friend shares the news and be available to listen to them. Sometimes they need to just talk about things other than cancer and other times they might just need to vent. Don’t make them feel like they have to make you feel comfortable. Remember that they are sick and they shouldn’t really have to but on a good face for you. They might be losing hair or weight and feel uncomfortable keep the focus on them getting well, not how they look.
  3. Offer to take them to their initial appointments and take notes for them. Doctor’s speak so quickly and can be so matter of fact. Cancer patients can be hyperviligant or completely overwhelmed by all of the information that they are given. It’s good to have a note taker – someone who writes everything. Spouses can be overwhelmed too.
  4. Plan a Let’s Kick Cancers Butt Gathering. Include her whole support team. Ask what she needs. Sign up to cook meals. Sign up to take care of pets (walking and bathing them).
  5. Create a Cancer Bag. Fill it with: gloves, a decorated binder, a plastic bag full of writing pens, a micro tape-recorder to record their thoughts or what doctor’s tell them, a couple of her favorite magazines, and a business card holder (a neat place for all of the cards they will get: the oncologist, nurse, interns, patient care representatives, financial representatives, support group leaders, etc.)
  6. Offer to take their children out for a fun activity. Children need to have fun! Mom & Dad and even Grandparents are focused on fighting cancer. Frankly, they are often just worn out. Include your friends children in an activity with your family. Take them to the mall for a treat or a movie to to get them away from the house. Take them to one of their soccer, baseball or basketball games when Mom can’t be there. Cheer them on, reassure them that they are loved and talk to them about their concerns.
  7. Prepare meals for them and their family. ASK — what are their favorites. Prepare the items in disposable pans or come over and serve it to them and wash the dishes and clean the kitchen for them after they are done. It’s just one more thing that they don’t have to worry about during this time.
  8. Help keep business affairs in order. Children’s Field Trip Notices, recurring bills, medical receipts and paperwork.
  9. Go with them to their Chemotherapy or radiation treatments. Some people go as little as 3x’s a week to 7x’s a week. Offer to take them and sit with them if you can. They would love the company and it will take their mind off of their treatment for a little while.
  10. Chip in with some friends and pay to have their house cleaned professionally. Lurking germs can wreck havoc on a compromised immune system. Sometimes the simplest things get overlooked when everyone is focused on a cancer patients recovery.
  11. Put together a Memory Book. Include pictures and mementos of their spouses, children, friends, activities, places she loves. This can be assembled by a professional organization like http://www.bellflowerbooks.com (@bellflowerbooks), who is so graciously creating books for the JustBeEnough Campaign (@JustBeEnough) visit http://www.justbeenough.com, or at My Publisher visit http://www.mypublisher.com
  12. Plan a Ladies Night. Rent her favorite movies, bring out the healthy snacks, nail polish, and photographs, old music and have a BLAST!.
  13. Offer to dictate or help write letters to her family and friends. You might just be there to support her but she will appreciate it!
  14. Plan a Cancer Walk or Fundraiser specifically for your friend. Did you know that 1/3 of people who file for bancruptcy because of uncovered medical cost for life threatening illnesses? You will be amazed at how many fundraisers and donations go to help research or a national organization but never reach your local area. See the ideas below:
  • Walk-a-thon ask people to sponsor you per lap or a flat donation.
  • A Prayer Breakfast at Church ask people to donate $10 per person to benefit the family directly for expenses not covered by their insurance.
  • Plan a gathering at a local restaurant. Ask the restaurant to give 15% of the nights receipts to the family. Create coupons and contact EVERYONE you can think of and tell them to eat in or order to go. Email coupons to your co-workers, church members, friends and ask them to forward the email.

15. Host a VICTORY PARTY! Include anyone and everyone! Make it a potluck and CELEBRATE KICKING CANCER’S BUTT!

As featured in MomMagazine.ca

After forty-two years I am finally comfortable enough with my life’s experiences to embrace all of my scars. Scars that hurt me to the core of my being to remind me of what has happened or what could have been.

There are two types of scars. Those that are visible and those intangible scars that live within me but are hidden from public view. It is these type of scars that could have mentally crippled me for my lifetime or help me to form who I have become.

My life has been tragic to some or triumphant to those who know my story. It has not been easy but no one ever said it would be! I battle with my feelings and emotions everyday but at the end of each day I know that my scars are my testimony that I am a cancer and rape survivor.

At the age of forty-one, my left breast waged war against me. The same breast that nurtured and nourished my three children planned a coup d’etat to overtake me. An irregular mammogram required me to take a second mammogram, which revealed a calcification and a suspicious mass that required me to have a surgical biopsy. Upon selecting my surgeon and meeting with him, I informed him that I wanted any and all suspected masses removed from my body. On the date of my surgical biopsy, I awoke to discover that a lumpectomy had been performed. I was relieved to have the surgery completed but I truly was not mentally prepared for what that actually meant. I had gone into surgery prepared to have a small circular scar from a needle aspiration and awoke with swelling and a four-inch scar across my breast. Three days later when my test results came in my surgeon called my home at 9 PM to inform me that all of my Stage One cancer had been completely removed. “Whew” I thought, “I’m glad that’s over.” But as I removed my bandages the following morning I realized that healing from this scar had not yet begun.

The visible scar on my breast was unsettling to me, and I couldn’t even imagine if I were to have lost one or both of my breasts. While I was thankful that I was okay, I cried each morning as I put on my bra. I had always loved my rack. It had been my favorite body part and my most treasured asset and now it was scarred. I became self-conscious about my clothing. I avoided all of the v-neck t-shirts and blouses I had with low plunging necklines. My husband being the amazing man that he is, looked at me no differently and loved me even more than before but I became sad and withdrawn as I suffered silently becoming angrier and angrier at my scar.

Around this time my intangible post-rape scars began to resurface. The thing about being raped is all though you learn to cope with the trauma certain things can trigger an emotional response and within seconds the mind can take you right back to that terrible experience. All of the insecurities from my past, my distorted body image, emotional eating, Post-Traumatic Stress, sexual expression and sexual repression resurfaced with a vengeance. I silently grieved my scars and suddenly I mourned for the nineteen year-old girl that I’d lost when I was raped. I mourned for my lost innocence, for my lost security and for my uninhibited desire to truly love someone with my entire being. I’d never known or felt that I lost so much until I stared at the scar on my breast, so I did what I had always been good at — I pressed on.

Faking it until I was making it.

I looked so put together. My work life was successful. My family life was doing well, but inside my scars had reopened into gigantic craters that engulfed me, and the sense of happiness and pride that I had established with therapy over 15 years ago was completely gone. I never looked in the mirror. I pulled back from hugs. Compliments all felt insincere. I couldn’t sleep. I was completely broken by my deep-seeded scars. I became mechanical. Going through the motions functioning on 2 to 3 hours of sleep and the rest of the day I ran on autopilot.

Determined to snap out of my Post Traumatic Stress funk, I pulled my copies of The Courage to Heal by Ellen Bass and Laura Davis and One Day My Soul Just Opened Up by Iyanla Vanzant back off of my bookcase and re-read them. I started journaling about my feelings, writing out my dreams, and creating short stories, blogged about my walking journey to better health and then one night when I was writing I wrote an erotic story that inspired me to reclaim my sexual power. A dear friend read it and said, “This is good.” He submitted the story to a website and within an hour, it was accepted and published as an online story. Talk about being shocked! I went to the site and set up a profile and joined a writer’s community within that site. I met an amazing group of friends. I read stories that were posted and I decided it was time to heal.

How my online life helped me heal

Accepting my scars began with a conversation with a new online friend. There’s something about the anonymity of speaking to someone online that allowed me to voice my deepest fears without self-imposed judgments. He asked me, “What do you like?” Sadly enough, I couldn’t answer! I’d become so disconnected from my own thoughts and desires.

I couldn’t answer that simple question. It wasn’t just about my hobbies; it dawned on me that wasn’t even in touch with what I wanted from my own husband in bed. I had never thought about what I WANTED! I know this sounds strange but most of my sexual “firsts” occurred during my rape. The involuntary nature and violation of it all left me in a less than adventurous state of being. There were and are things that I still do not enjoy, things that still freak me out completely and things that I have learned to love. I had discovered yet another area of my life that needed to heal and I began writing erotica to explore my desires and I began to finally connect with myself sexually.

My husbands love and support helped me to put my desires into physical actions and we made a pledge to make love everyday for ninety days. It might sound crazy but the intimacy and connections that we shared during that time is something that I will always cherish! The unconditional love that I’ve received from my husband and online friends during this difficult reawakening process has been phenomenal and so much more than I could have ever expected! My sexual re-awakening has been both a blessing in my relationship with my husband and at times a curse that required us to look long and hard at our relationship and our expectations of each other. But with the encouragement of close friends and my family, I returned to therapy to help me process some of my unspoken needs and to help mend some of my reopened wounds.

There was only one thing left for me to deal with and that was my scarred breast. So I took a shower and took a long look at myself in the mirror. I didn’t just look at my face as I had done for the last fourteen months. I looked at all of me! I sat in my bathroom and looked at my scar and reminded myself, that I am scarred but not dead and right then and there I embraced my scar! Not just that one, I decided to embrace them all! I cried and celebrated my scars as I looked at the mark on my breast.

Later that week I called my dear friend Chloe Jackman, a professional photographer (www.chloejackman.com) and I decided to reclaim my feminine power, embrace my scars, and celebrate my life by having a professional naughty girl set of portraits done for my husband. The highlight of that shoot was the photo in this article where I am embracing my scar.

I am not healed from my past but I am embarking on a new path towards a happier future, embracing my scars and enjoying who I am right now. Tomorrow is not promised and I have been given the chance to start over again! I acknowledge that everyone does not survive all that I have been through. But whether you have or have not experienced my life circumstances, I ask you to embrace your scars because they are what make you uniquely you. Reach out for help if you feel like you are sinking. You might be surprised at who is ready to help you heal.

For more exciting news about Mom’s check out MOMmagazine (www.MOMmagazine.ca)

Be brave and be well,

Sammie Love