Preventive Mastectomy: Five Years Later

Posted April 23, 2021 by Prairie Wife - 4 comments

Five years later.

Can you believe it was five years ago that I underwent a preventive mastectomy?!

In some ways, it seems like it has been a shorter amount of time, and in other ways, it feels like it was fooorrreevvveeerr ago.

As I sat in front of my computer thinking about how to put my emotions and thoughts into words I found myself feeling overwhelmingly grateful.

As I have healed emotionally and physically from my surgeries, I have had some really fabulous highs...and some super sucky lows.

I have often said that undergoing this surgery and journey was like going through puberty again.

Hormones, thousands of emotions, a new body that you have to get used to, and lots of people telling you what to do and how to feel.

Thankfully, five years later, I seem to be at the point where for the most part I am comfortable with my body.

My self-confidence is back, I wear what I want to wear because it brings me joy…and I don’t worry about people commenting on my body or their opinions of how I look or the choices I made.

Okay…I mean…I still care a little bit…but I don’t let it change how I feel or what I do 😉

And being at this place of conviction and no regrets, makes me feel so grateful.

One of the most frequent questions I see in the mastectomy chat rooms I still belong to is “Will this ever stop hurting?”

That’s a hard question to answer.

While the stabbing nerve pain will go from multiple times a day, to a few times a week, then a month and then you won’t even remember the last time you had it…I have to be honest…

It never stops hurting.

In January as I picked my word/phrase to focus on for the year I chose #gritandgrace and I set a few goals for myself that were out of my comfort zone.

Including working on my arms.

I hate doing any workouts that involve my arms or pecs.

With the surgery (and how they cut through your pecs and stitch you back together) I am extremely embarrassingly weak in those two areas.

And I detest how hard I have to work to do even the bare minimum of upper body exercises.

And it hurts.

Even five years later, it hurts like hell for days after I work those muscles in a new way.

And it’s not my biceps and shoulders hurting, it’s pulling and pain along where my stitches are all the way deep into my armpits.

I know from experience as I grow stronger and consistently work on these areas, the pain will go away.

But, I hate it, and I loathe sucking at things.

Yet, despite all that I have pushed through.

I have worked hard, I have ignored the mean voice in my head saying “You can’t do this, so why try?”

I have finished my workouts the best that I can as tears of frustration mix in with the sweat pouring down my face.

And I have seen the results of my hard work.

I am grateful that this experience has taught me over and over that I am #strongenough

Since we are being so truthful with each other right now I want to be honest with you about something that happened recently.

There has been A LOT going on behind the scenes around here.

Personally and professionally.

And while I have shared what I can with you in true “it’s not all sunshine and roses” fashion, there are some things that I am simply not allowed to talk about yet.

Two weeks ago I sat at my kitchen counter (where I do all of my blog work) and I stared at the screen of my computer in complete frustration and exhaustion.

I sincerely had been feeling for days that my time and efforts on here and social media were pointless.

I felt like I was shouting into nothingness, that I wasn’t helping anyone to lead a life of grit and grace, that I was just being stupid and self-indulgent with this blog thinking that anyone gave a damn about what I thought.

I felt like my mission of offering support to women, wives, and mothers was falling flat.

I put my head in my hands, took a few deep breathes, and prayed.

I asked God to send me a sign.

To let me know without a doubt that the time and effort that I am putting into this brand and in sharing my honest and heartfelt (with a bit of humor) stories was the right thing to do.

The next day I received a private message on Instagram.

“Good morning! I just wanted to let you know how much your preventative mastectomy blog posts have helped me. I’m having mine tomorrow! I have read through your post at least five times, the last time was a few days ago at 4 am when I woke up so worried about my decision. Reading through your posts has given me SO much courage and peace and I cannot even thank you enough for sharing your story.”

Friends, readers…it took all of my self-control not to start crying in the middle of my radio show when I read these words.

That. Right. There.

That is why I am doing this.

I have always said, if I help one woman, one family, then it will be enough.

I will keep on sharing my stories in the hopes that someone else will feel supported, hopeful, and seen.

I am grateful for the women that are here with me.

I am grateful for everyone that stepped up and helped my family and me that first tough year.

For those of you that stayed by me as I worked through all the emotions and trauma of the changes that came afterward.

Thank you for being compassionate and for standing by me.

I am grateful for those of you who are here as readers, as friends, or even the random person that stumbles upon this blog and leaves after only reading one post.

Thank you for taking some of your precious time and spending it with us here in the middle of nowhere Wyoming.

Thank you for sharing these posts with friends that are trying to make one of the hardest decisions of their lives.

Thank you for trusting me.

I am so grateful you are here with me.

Here’s to another year full of #gritandgrace


Prairie Wife

Photo Credit: Cowgirl on Ladder Danja Barber

Jumping in Air Krystal Brewer

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4 thoughts on "Preventive Mastectomy: Five Years Later"

  1. Pat McCarthy says:

    Cathy, You, more than anyone, helped me when I was diagnosed with breast cancer at 70. I remember running in to you at OLF and you having such understanding of my fears! I was part way through radiation and exhausted! Your words encouraged me so much! Thank you! I will remember forever your kindnessYou do so much good for all of us!
    Love and gratitude,
    Pat McCarthy

    1. Prairie Wife says:

      So much love being sent your way Pat. Thank you for the gift that you and your family are to me and mine. Praying always 🙂

  2. Victoria Irving says:

    I was diagnosed last week with Invasive Ductal Carcinoma. I think your blog is great. It gives women like me hope of being normal again at some point in our life. I have done all my research and due to breast cancer running in my family I am having a bilateral mastectomy with reconstruction in about 2 weeks. I have my team together and on the same page. God has blessed me with a wonderful supportive husband, family and group of friends. Keep blogging please. I’m looking forward to reading more.

    1. Prairie Wife says:

      I’m thankful you were able to find hope in what I’ve written, and I’ll be sending prayers of strength your way. Here if you have any questions.

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