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Adjusting to a New Reality

Hi! My name is Sarah and I am a Canadian Armed Forces member, a single mom to a now 8-year-old-boy named Thomas. Last year at age 39 I was diagnosed with Stage 2A triple negative breast cancer. I had a left mastectomy followed by eight rounds of dose dense AC-T chemo. Now considered NED, I am attempting to recover and help others understand resilience and recovery. Humour is one of the main coping mechanisms I used, and still use, six months PFC to cope. Here is one little story that I would like to share, that may bring a smile to your face. Enjoy!

I am on my recovery journey. I have good days and bad days, but recently my days have been more good than bad. This time last year I was just starting chemo, so I am in a much better place right now.

What I need to work on? Myself. Appreciating myself and giving myself time and attention.

One way I know this works for me is yoga. I haven’t done yoga since pre-diagnosis. It has always been a very therapeutic practice for me. This beautiful area of the Ottawa Valley in Ontario Canada, less than 200 km away from our Nation’s Capital, offers a yoga in the park during the hot summer months right on the waterfront. I grabbed this opportunity to get back into the practice of yoga. I threw on my Lululemon tights, my sports bra with my prosthetic left breast, and a black tank top. Other than this mad mop of hair, which is curly and out of control, you would never know that I had been in treatment for cancer.

I got to the park, put my mat down, and breathed in deeply – happy I was making time for my health and wellness. More and more people started to arrive in the park, the soft relaxing music was playing from the speaker and the yoga instructor was leading from the front on a microphone. She led us through a variety of poses and flows. The weather was hot and humid. It felt good to get a sweat on.

Bending over into downward dog, and into deep folds, I breathed in deeply. Then something, while folded down from the waist, slid into my face. What the heck? I suddenly realized - it was my prosthetic. The heat and humidity along with the wonderful force of gravity had slid my prosthetic out of my sports bra and into my chin. I was bent over, using my chin to hold my fake boob close to my chest because otherwise it was going to fall out like a dead fish on my yoga mat.

There must have been close to 50 people in the park, and of course, because I was early, I was right up front. If I righted myself it would have fallen out; if I released my chin which was holding it in place, it would have fallen out. I used one of my arms to balance myself and the other to, as discretely as I could, push the sweaty fake boob back into my sports bra. Once I slid it back in, I righted myself and looked down to ensure I was good to go. It was not in the right place. Instead of it falling back into place nicely on my left side, I looked down and had a middle boob and a right boob. Trying not to be obvious, I was shifting my bra around so that I could get it back into place – but little did I know that what I was doing was rotating it. If you aren’t familiar with prosthetic breasts, they are shaped like a triangle. So the top of my triangle ends up going to the bottom. So now I have an upside down boob. I know there is no other way to right this so I just give in and let myself adjust it totally.

If anyone noticed they didn’t say anything, and at that point I didn’t care! Lesson learned – wear a bra with a pocket if you are planning on doing anything with heat and gravity and a prosthetic breast! Hey Lululemon – make me some mastectomy-friendly bras!

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