Beauty After Breast Cancer #29daysofbeYOUty
By: Courtney Floyd
For the month of February, PRMA hosted a social media campaign highlighting beauty after breast cancer. I asked survivors to submit a photo of when they felt beautiful and define what beauty meant to them since breast cancer treatments and breast reconstruction.
Beauty means something so different for each one of us and it was truly encouraging and empowering to read everyone’s definition of beauty and see the many photos capturing true exquisiteness.
Thanks so much for everyone who participated. So many lives were touched and encouraged by your photos and words!
In case you missed it, here are the uplifting definitions of beauty:
“After breast cancer beauty is working hard to help raise funds so that students can attend college and make a difference in this world.” -Doris
“Beauty is the love and support from family and friends. Beauty is knowing you faced particularly rough times with more fortitude than you ever imagined possible. Beauty is feeling alive and loving as much as you are loved. Beauty is family.” -Misty
"For beautiful eyes, look for the good in others. For beautiful lips speak only words of kindness.
And for poise, walk with the knowledge that you are never alone." -Audrey Hepburn.
“I find this especially important when battling "the monster" which is cancer because No One Fights Alone. I have been inspired by all the BEAUTIFUL women I have met who battle breast cancer. Impressed by the determination of many who have become stronger and gone out into the world to make a difference in our community by starting non-profits, support groups, etc. I believe God allowed me to survive for a purpose. I minister to the smallest survivors, children battling cancer, by being part of a group who dress up as Princesses and Superheroes. My favorite character is Glinda, The Good Witch. I find BEAUTY in the twinkling eyes of a child, when I "wave my magic wand" and help them forget about what is going on in their sterile world and step into that of a fairy-tale.” –Paula
"Beauty isn't about having a pretty face. It is about having a pretty mind, a pretty heart and most importantly a beautiful soul" by unknown.
“Beauty means to feel that your heart is connected to all the people you see and are part of your life, feeling your beauty from inside projected to everyone, feel happy with your body and grateful for life.” -Maria
“Beauty to me is loving yourself enough to make some tough decisions. Being able to find what lights you up from within and shine your true colors of love & confidence without holding back. Beauty is being able to be your own voice & not stopping until you get the answers you're looking for. Beauty is being able to create a healthy & vibrant life. Scars & all. ❤” -Kathryn
“This picture of me with my son Aiden represents true beauty to me. I had no hair, eyelashes, or eye brows & soon no breast tissue BUT cancer could not take away the woman I am inside. To know that who God created me to be would not change because my outward appearance changed speaks to my heart and is a reminder that no matter what life throws at me in the physical my inner spirit will not change.” -Genny
“I read this somewhere and it resonated with me... "You have a choice each and every single day...I choose to feel blessed, I choose to feel grateful, I choose to be excited, I choose to be thankful and most importantly... I choose to be HAPPY" I truly believe that beauty comes from within you and all that you embrace. I know when I'm happy, I feel beautiful. This could be tricky after a cancer diagnosis, but it sure is possible. As a cancer survivor, we go through many highs and lows but in the end, even the lows are bittersweet in a way. My breast cancer journey is just a chapter in my book of life, but it sure as heck won't be the last chapter....There's so much more to come!!!” -Amanda
“Through this journey I have learned to embrace and find confidence in the person I am inside. I have found so much happiness in helping other women through their journey. There is so much beauty in honesty and putting the bald head and scars aside…I have learned how important it is to just simply be honest in this journey. Beauty is appreciating the life I have been given, it is sharing my passions with others, but most importantly…it is putting a smile on someone else’s face. This journey has made me feel beYOUtiful because I am truly learning who I am inside and I am able to comfortably share that with the world.” -Jen
“This was taken just two short months after my double mastectomy at the beach in Port Aransas. As you can see, breast cancer did not slow me down. I feel healthier and happier than before I got breast cancer! Beauty comes from within! I’m grateful for every day.” -Carla
“Beauty is being able to get up each day and look in the mirror and say Thank You Lord for another day. Beauty is being able to walk, run, jump, dance and sing because I fought the fight; I finished the course and I continue to strive each day. I love the person I've become because I fought to become her. A Beautiful Survivor Surviving to stay on top.” -Clair
“I have always thought that while beauty includes physical attractiveness, that is a small part. To me a woman is beautiful when she shows other attributes such as self-confidence, intelligence and a good moral compass. It is the total package. However, when one receives the diagnosis of breast cancer it is quite easy to lose sight of some of these attributes. I have never thought that my breasts were very much tied to my self-image. Yet following mastectomy I can see where the sudden removal of ones breasts, that nourished our young, enhanced our sexuality, and plain and simple made us feel feminine can be devastating.
Generations of women before us did not have the choices that we have today. When I started this journey to fight breast cancer some hurdles presented themselves and I made the decision to have bilateral mastectomy with DIEP flab reconstruction. Following the first stage of this procedure I awakened from anesthesia and I had breasts. When the nurses came around for my hourly checks every one of them told me how wonderful these new breasts looked. Finally, I got a chance to see these reconstructed breasts myself and I cannot tell you how impressed I was with what I saw. My sister passed away from breast cancer twenty years ago as a very young woman. Her fight was just to survive, not caring what she looked like after mastectomy. In reality she had a very ugly scar where her breast used to be and she found wearing a prosthesis too awkward and uncomfortable. Sadly, her journey with breast cancer ended in two short years.
However, I have come to realize that these surgeons and nurses have given back to us breast cancer survivors a chance to feel so close to our former selves before cancer came into our lives. If anything I feel more confident in myself for what I've been through. I feel like an ambassador to women who might have to deal with the tough decisions regarding breast cancer. Breast cancer does not have to take away your beauty and femininity. My friends, family and work colleagues all agree that my positive attitude makes me more beautiful than ever. Tomorrow I will have the next stage of reconstruction and I am actually looking forward to completing the process. Best regards to all of my breast cancer surviving "sisters".“ -Margee
“The biggest thing I had to learn after surviving breast cancer, was how I felt about "beauty". It's not about having the perfect body or the perfect hair. Beauty isn't perfection. Strength is. I realized I'm a lot stronger than I thought I was and the power of positivity is a beautiful thing.” -Alex
“Beauty to me since breast cancer is accepting my imperfections -because I feel more beautiful today even with my battle wound scars! I'm blessed and want to celebrate my life by helping others. I'm not perfect and it's not my job to be.” -Catherine
“Beauty to me is knowing that my husband and my family love me no matter what, the scars are a gentle reminder know of how God with the skill of Dr. Ledoux and staff - that I'm a CANCER CONQUEROR. I feel beautiful, I look beautiful and that's a beautiful thing!” -Jan
“Beauty is being able to look at myself in the mirror and see what a beautiful person I am because breast cancer did not take my life from me. Thanks to Doctor Chrysopoulo who gave me my girls back, they look great. When I look at myself I feel like a million bucks and nothing or no one can take that away from me. I feel as good as I look!” -Mary
“I'm Maggie, diagnosed with Stage II Invasive Ductal Carcinoma Breast Cancer April 24, 2014. This picture was taken a few days after shaving my head. I cried a few tears after shaving my head but a couple of days later I looked in the mirror and saw my INNER BEAUTY - a beauty that would carry me through 16 rounds of chemo, a single mastectomy, 30 rounds of radiation, numerous other treatments and reconstruction (@PRMA). I found out that hair is overrated but eyelashes and eyebrow - not so much! Beauty in not in my outward appearance but how I feel on the inside and what others see in me. Cancer took away so much from me but it didn't crush my spirit nor did my faith in God falter. My mantra was "God's Got This".” -Maggie
“Beauty is happiness with my body that goes beyond the scars. My story is not that of the experience I've been through. It's how I choose to live each day in my future.” -April
“What Beauty means to me since breast cancer: Strength, courage and confidence. Absolutely Fearless!” -Jessica
“Beauty since breast cancer means a healing smile of gratitude; gratitude in finding an amazing microsurgeon to perform my breast reconstruction. Beauty means a smile of confidence embracing new femininity and form that breast cancer took away from me.” -Terri
“Dr. Ledoux did my Surgery on October 6, 2015. I felt so beautiful that day as I drove my own pink "Barbie Car" to the show and won a plaque. I was proud of the car , which I had before my Breast Cancer diagnosis ( but she makes a nice Breast Cancer Awareness Car) but proud of myself for not only surviving the surgery but for pushing myself in my recovery so I could try to get back to my life. My life has changed for the better as I feel a deeper appreciation for my husband, children, family and friends, they were such a support to me when I needed it the most and I knew I loved them before but now I know how blessed I am. My Cancer changed me for the better.” -Lisa
“What beauty means to me... I feel complete!” -Dixey
“I have spent the last two years wanting to look like "me"! Asking a hairdresser not to cut the top pieces because I wanted to have long hair again. Hair styles change constantly as it grows in a half inch each month! I realized in November after a haircut that I liked it! In December I had it cut, even the top! Beauty to me is learning to embrace my scars and what I look like today not what I looked like before cancer or what I want to look like just simply embracing today and being grateful for this moment.” -Angie
“First of all, I wanted to share the following quote: “Beauty is not who you are on the outside, it is the wisdom and time you gave away to save another struggling soul, like you.” ― Shannon L. Alder. I feel this quote describes the inner beauty I strive to share with my fellow breast cancer survivors as part of my volunteer work at the Metropolitan Methodist Breast Center. I hope that I show a true understanding of their challenges and do my best to help them cope with their diagnosis in a positive way.” -Debbie