Cancer Costumes...Halloween FUN

Halloween is for kids and cancer patients! There is joy that overflows from a child when asked, “What do you want to be for Halloween”. With it’s endless possibilities to express who they want to become, who they idolize. As a cancer patient the opportunity returns. 

It is a time to embrace the changes, the baldness, the scars. A time to laugh at the hand you have been dealt.

It is a day off from taking CANCER seriously. 

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It is a time to take charge of YOUR identity, even if it is just for a day. 

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Halloween 2014 -a week after my double mastectomy- there was no party but there was an appointment to remove my final drain bag. Circumstance made my costume…I was the Bride of Frankenstein, cut up and put back together. My amazing husband dressed as Dr. Frankenstein to support my crazy. 

It brought joy to what could have been an otherwise traumatizing situation. I had not seen my bare chest until that appointment and when I did my first thought was “What a FUCKING badass”. It set the tone for my journey to follow. 

 

Find out what I dressed up as this year (Spoiler: IT IS EPIC) on Instagram @AnielaMcG

 

Did you dress up during your treatment? Share what you were. Comment below.

 

If you found this helpful please donate to help make the documentary based on my one woman show, “I Don’t Have Cancer”. 

DOC TALK- with my Reconstructive Breast Surgeon

I was not afraid of cancer, I was afraid of the unknown. There are so many questions the come up when you are diagnosed- “Will I survive?” “Should I get a mastectomy?” “What will I look like?”. We look to other women and men who have been there before to get a glimpse at our possible future but every case in unique and some read more like horror stories that leave you awake at night. 

There is a point when you have to stop googling and go talk to a real expert. Dr. Christopher Low with Vanguard Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (VASPFL.com) was kind enough to let me interview him with some of my biggest breast reconstruction questions. He was also my outstanding reconstructive surgeon. You can see his work in my “Top 5 Weird Reasons I LOVE My Mastectomy” and “Mastectomy Photo Series”. 

Hopefully this will help ease some of your fears about the unknown world of reconstruction that you are heading into. 

 

Here is my list questions and you can hear all of his answers in my VLOG, “DOC TALK with my Reconstructive Breast Surgeon”:

  • When is the best time to get a Plastic Surgeon involved?
  • What is the difference between Silicone and Saline? 
  • Will Silicone make me sick if it leaks?
  • Tear drop vs. Round?
  • Bras? 
    • Can I go without a bra? 
    • Any special type of bra?
  • Nipples, what are my options?
  • Expanders, Why did I need them?
  • Why are your fingers blue?
Fear keeps us focused on the past or worried about the future. If we can acknowledge our fear, we can realize that right now we are okay. Right now, today, we are still alive, and our bodies are working marvelously. Our eyes can still see the beautiful sky. Our ears can still hear the voices of our loved ones.
— Thich Nhat Hanh

What are some questions you wish you asked when you started this process? Comment Below.

 

If you found this helpful please donate to help make the documentary based on my one woman show, “I Don’t Have Cancer”. 

The best place for soft, comfortable, inexpensive, front closure sports bras for after surgery was Walmart. They were the only place that had them. Here is a link for the ones I used. 

10 Day Silent Adventure

Wednesday I begin an extraordinary quest into the uncharted, wilderness. A 10 day adventure where no one has ever gone before with dangers and traps waiting around every corner. There will be No phones, no internet, no reading or writing and…NO TALKING. 

Where I am I going? Into the depths of my own self. I will be embarking on a 10 day silent meditation called Vipassana

This is actually my second time, the first was two years ago on my 30th birthday and it was the hardest thing I had ever done. Then the day I emerged from silence I found out my mother had chosen to end her cancer treatments and was going into home hospice. The next week and a half I spent caring for her as she rapidly deteriorated and passed away while holding my hand. The meditation retreat became the second hardest thing I had ever done. 

Now, I have been through cancer myself and Vipassana is barely hanging on to my top 5 most difficult experiences. 

The big question is WHY? Why would I want to do this? But the better question is what do I GAIN by doing this? The answer…Internal SPACE. 

Vipassana is like performing surgery on myself. All of the baggage I have collected over the years is sliced from the depths of my being. The tool? Equanimous attention towards the sensations that arise in my body. 

Example: If I have an itch and instead of scratching it I am instructed to gently observe it. IMPOSSIBLE! My mind begins to go nuts, all I want to do is scratch that itch, I get angry, frustrated, OUTRAGED…then I break down and SCRATCH it. Awwww sweet relief, for a second, then another spot starts to itch and the cycle continues. 

BUT an amazing thing happens when I stop fighting. Once I take away the broad label- “itch” or “pain” - dissect the sensation (“itching” is tingling and warmth; “pain” can be a throbbing, cold), the mental suffering caused by the sensation lost it’s grip. Then eventually the sensation changes.

The lesson I learned is “nothing is permanent", everything changes and by craving or rejecting a situation/sensation I cause my own MISERY. THIS CHANGED MY LIFE!

As my mother died, I now knew that if I craved a different ending or rejected the fact that she was passing away, I would add more pain to this already excruciating experience. My heart was still broken, but I could start healing without having to first dig myself out from under the rubble of unnecessary emotional torment. 

When I was diagnosed with cancer a year later, that lesson gave me even more freedom. I didn’t waste precious energy wishing for things to be different, instead I could focus on enjoying the life I did had and getting better. 

Plus, the “pain” from surgery and chemo didn’t have the same power over me. Rather than running from it, I would look at it deep in the eyes, see what it was made of, hear what it had to say. Pain is like a child, it wants to be heard and when you ignore it, it gets LOUDER, but when you listen to it with love and compassion, it eventually loses interest and finds something else to do.  

I am excited to see what I will discover about myself this time. Bonus, my buzz cut makes me look like a monk, which is very fitting.

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  • Do you think you would you be able to be silent for 10 days? Would you want to? Comment below and tell me what the hardest thing you have ever done VOLUNTARILY and what you learned. 

New posts will resume Sept 30th