My name is Miranda and I was diagnosed with Stage 2B, Estrogen Positive, Invasive Ductal Breast Cancer at 35-years-old in 2018. I have undergone a double mastectomy with reconstruction, five months of AC+T chemotherapy, and will now be on hormone suppression therapy for at least five years. My husband and I live in the Metro Detroit area in Michigan, along with our two cats, where we love to hike, kayak, drink fancy coffee and eat indulgent food.
I was two days into yoga teacher certification training when I found a painful lump in my breast while in the shower one day. I credit an eight-hour day of yoga practice for making me sore enough to notice it. This brought me even deeper into my yoga practice and movement felt key to my healing. It felt ironic that I was diagnosed with cancer just as I was feeling my strongest, both physically and mentally.
The first step in fighting the breast cancer that had inconveniently invaded my body was to do surgery. I had already made the decision in my mind to get a double mastectomy before I had even met with any plastic surgeons. Here I was 35-years-old with no family history. I was not messing around. The next question was whether I wanted to do reconstruction and what type. My biggest concern was how surgery would impact my range of motion and activity level. I did not want cancer stealing away any joy that yoga was bringing me!
The day finally came where I was going to meet with a plastic surgeon for the first time. I was so nervous. I had never pictured myself being in an office like this, with implants displayed on counters and Botox posters on the wall. It felt like cleavage and perfectionism were staring at me from all angles! I was completely out of my element, but determined to find the right doctor to guide me through this scary part of my life.
My meeting with my future plastic surgeon was uneventful at first. We discussed the type of reconstruction surgery that was the best fit for me specifically. Since it involved cutting and stretching my pectoral muscles, I needed more details on how my future yoga practice would be affected. Yoga had become a part of my daily life and I was frankly pissed I would have to be putting my teaching education on hold to fight cancer. All I could think about was how quickly I could get back to doing sun salutations. This is a specific flowing series of yoga poses, which involves lowering your body down through a push up and other upper body involvement.
Before we began the physical exam, my last question to my plastic surgeon was how soon will I be able to do a push-up again?
He looked at me with a dismissive, rather offended face and said “Why would you want to? You won't need them.”
I was taken aback. Won't need to? Is he expecting me to think that my new reconstructed boobs look so good that I'll never want to exercise again??
A light bulb clicked on. Bra. He thinks I mean push-up bra! I definitely had a good laugh clearing up his confusion and what I actually meant! It seems plastic surgeons may be a bit more focused on all things boobs rather than yoga and fitness.
After the laugh I'd had at his expense, it was time for the physical exam. I was given the typical 3X gown and they left the room so I could change. Now I'm pretty quick getting into those gowns, but the doctor didn't have any other patients and did the rapid knock-knock-enter too quickly. Since my husband was seated next to the door, his knee jerk reaction was to block the door closed. I was startled because it was far too awkward to not be funny! We had just spent the last few weeks waiting eternities in examination rooms for doctors to come. So we were both definitely startled! The additional irony of my husband's immediate reaction to blocking the plastic surgeon rebuilding my boobs from seeing my boobs had me cracking up.
It was the first of many times that I found humor during my treatment. I had to not be afraid to laugh at even the bad things. Knowing that made fighting cancer a little easier to bear.