Getting pregnant this quickly after cancer surgery shocked a lot of people, doctors, family and friends. I was lucky to meet a maverick breast surgeon who was not afraid to speak the truth. He told me that although getting pregnant when you had breast cancer could increase the speed of the cancer growth, they really didn’t know much about how people got on getting pregnant only a few weeks after surgery. He smiled at me and said "Sounds like a good reason to just be happy. Why don't you go and enjoy your baby!"
I couldn't stop smiling after that. It seemed like a beautiful fresh start, although most people clearly thought we were completely mad. When I told people that I was pregnant, I got more than a lot of wince-filled half smiles. I could see that they thought I was most likely bringing into the world a child who would soon be motherless. The fear people hold towards cancer when you are young is extraordinary. How friends behave is interesting. The ones you think will be there for you usually are. Family can become a loving extension of your healing, but there are some who just can’t handle being around you. Their own fear of death takes them over, either they have lost someone close to them or they have a deep subconscious fear that they might ‘catch’ it. Ironically, one of the most amazing souls to turn up and give me her eyes and all her warmth as soon as I got home from hospital had lost her own darling Mum to breast cancer, Briar’s grief scar had made her heart so full with love.
When Isabella arrived I breastfed off one breast and my body seemed to know how to make enough milk to cover all her needs. It was funny watching the transition of my breasts over this time. A breast-feeding breast can get pretty enormous! So, I had to use a chicken fillet like plastic insert in my bra over my mastectomy boob when going out, to get a matching pair.
One morning when Isabella was a couple of months old, I was invited to have morning tea with a friend. Instead of meeting at her place she had asked if I would meet her at the local hospital café as she was visiting someone there. I was triggered and itchy about meeting up at the same hospital where I had my breast surgery, but I went anyway.
Halfway through the catch-up I realized with a start that it was exactly one year to the day since my surgery and I took my wee babe upstairs to the ward to see the nurses who had taken such loving care of me. It felt so good to go up to that ward, healthy with my child in my arms, taking new life into a place where so many women were fearing for their own. I felt such warmth seeing the nurses holding Isabella in their arms, beaming with happiness.
Around this time the singer Kylie Minogue was diagnosed with breast cancer. Outside the local shop I saw a women's magazine headline saying something along the lines of “Kylie’s hopes for a child finished!” I was furious and rang the Editor. They published an article with me shortly after with the just as unappealing byline “Cancer Mum Gives Kylie Hope” I am not a Cancer Mum – I am a healthy Mum. Before Isabella was born I had appeared in another magazine with my pregnant belly to show others how beautiful life can be after cancer – again though – the article was heavily influenced into fear mongering around getting a mammogram. By all means if you notice something off with your breasts, redness, hardening or an unusual hard lump, get it checked but there are too many women being traumatized by unnecessary testing when for most of us our breast tissue is constantly in a normal state of cell flux and movement.
The week after I stopped breast-feeding Isabella, I was pregnant once again with Liam, a son after 3 girls for our family. William had a vision of a dark curly headed boy who would come into our life – he got it right again. The Universe had given me a long healing hormone treatment with the two pregnancies and breast-feeding that allowed my body to heal beautifully.
When Isabella was old enough to speak sentences, she told me that she remembered “the time before she chose me and Daddy” She told us that she used to come and visit me when I was sick and in hospital. She also described how she had seen my mother crying while standing in our kitchen preparing meals for us all when I was recovering at home. She spoke of how she had tried to send her love to tell her all would be ok. Isabella described the house in detail although we had moved from there by the time she was born. She said she had chosen to come and help me “heal my insides.”...
An Excerpt from Made Beautiful By Scars -real women's stories
All Rights Reserved, copyright Made Beautiful by Scars book series 2016