Sarah Kelly, March 2021
Sarah Kelly's Story Behind Beauty
This past week has been 6 years since my cancer diagnosis. In those 6 years I have struggled with a LOVE - HATE relationship with my body. Some days, I look at my body and say “you are one badass bod!”. I know that this body fought cancer and kicked its ass. It’s given birth to three healthy babies, two naturally and one in an emergency c-section. I have gone through chemo, surgery, radiation and a number of blood transfusions. I have had a date with Chemo and delivered a baby in the same week. This body is strong and resilient… but confidence doesn’t come easy every single day.
Sarah with her family during a time when she was undergoing treatment and caring for her young children
Most people know my cancer story by now but briefly----6 years ago March 6th, I was 8 months pregnant with my second child and learned I had stage 3 Triple Negative Breast Cancer. With no family history of any kind of cancer. I was completely blind sided. When I learned I had cancer, I struggled with the decision of keeping my breasts, having a lumpectomy or having a double mastectomy. Based on my cancer type and how my body positively responded to chemo, the outcomes of a lumpectomy vs. breasts removed via mastectomy, had the same survival rate. So, I decided to keep my breasts and have a lumpectomy. What the doctors never tell you, and I didn’t even consider, was the drastic change in shape, size and even nipple placement because of the lumpectomy. It would not have changed my decision but is something that has been hard to overcome from a confidence and intimacy standpoint. But I was lucky, my body reacted to the chemo and after just a few treatments the lump in my breast was almost undetectable. I had a full response and after surgery I was told they found no evidence of disease. The words you want to hear. So, how could I look at my body and think of anything other than pride in how much it has done for me in my life? But as we all know, we are often our own worst critics.
Some days I look in the mirror and I see the extra 15lbs that I still carry since my cancer diagnosis. I see my lopsided breasts. One breast fed two of my three babies and the other is half the size because of my lumpectomy surgery. I see my c-section scar that runs across my stomach and sometimes I don’t recognize myself. I try to be honest with myself and that I may be a bit of a self sabotager. If I take the weight off, will I then think I am fully accepting of my body, only to have another transformation take place that I wasn’t expecting? It’s a bit of a mind f$*k. My journey to beauty has been ongoing. I entered motherhood and have had to deal with all those body changes at the same time that I was also dealing with all the changes cancer brings. My husband is nothing but supportive and tells me all the time how beautiful and attractive I am (Bless his soul) but it is hard not to compare my old self with my new self. Body acceptance will always be a struggle. It is a reminder of cancer everytime I look at myself in the mirror. I can’t ever escape that. And that makes me sad sometimes. But it also is a reminder of strength and resilience, and for that I appreciate this body that I have and am learning to accept and love it again. This body is a strong and beautiful warrior.
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