previvor confession

It is time for a Previvor confession, I have been silent for awhile now about my journey.  It has been two years since my reconstruction and I am struggling.   I look in the mirror and I hate what I look like.   My reconstructed breasts are larger than I wanted.   They slide into my armpits, making wearing a bra 24 hours a day a reality. Shopping for clothing makes me anxious just thinking about it.   Trying things on, well that is a whole other kind of hell for me.

Menopause has hit me hard, my old body is gone.   Don’t get me wrong, I know I was not perfect before all of this.   But what I see in the mirror is not how I want to look.  I was struggling with my weight before the preventative surgeries, now even more.  Count your calories they said, exercise more, accept that this is how I am going to look the rest of my life.  I counted my calories, eaten healthy and exercised.   I gained 20 pounds obsessing over every detail.   I went on vacation did none of the above and lost 5 pounds.   I am lost and I refuse to accept this reality.

Would I do it again?

Yes.  A hundred times yes, but perhaps differently knowing what I know now.   The struggles are hard, and I have been kidding myself that I am over all that I experienced. The trauma is overwhelming to your body. You keep waiting to get back to normal.   The reality is normal is new and foreign to you.  Accepting yourself as you are is tough.  This is soul crushing.  So mind and body are deeply damaged.

Truth is, I am not good.   As evidenced by my talk at church a few weeks ago.  I stood at the pulpit and could barely get words to come out as the tears poured down my face.   October Pink Images just pushed me over the edge.   I had been in fight mode for so long that I never had time to process.   Now two years later, a pandemic and time on my hands I see it for what  it was.  Life altering, the old me is gone and I need to learn to love the new me.

Sometimes the only appropriate response is to grieve and celebrate at the same time.   I celebrated not having cancer.  Fighting on my own terms.  That I forgot to grieve what was lost.  

What am I doing?

I am talking about my struggles, no longer keeping them buried deep inside me.   Finding ways to reach out and connect with other Previvors.   I am letting go of the notion that I have no right to complain compared to what those with Cancer have dealt with.   Trauma is trauma.  I am recognizing what this has done to me.   I am in that part of the grief process that I am angry.  It gets easier once you acknowledge how you feel and stop belittling your feelings.

I am going back under the knife in December. Hopefully, because there is a chance it will be cancelled thanks to Covid-19.    Which let’s be real — that is a whole other layer of anger I have to wrestle with.

This time a breast reduction.   My surgeon is looking at me telling me “how great they look”.   Meanwhile I have a constant back and shoulder aches from the additional weight, I carry myself differently.   I want to not wear a bra 24 hours a day.   I don’t want them sliding into my armpits.   I am long past the point of wanting huge breasts.   I was over it when I had my double mastectomy.

I am considering seeing a nutritionist and contemplating taking meditation to assist me in weight loss.  The blessing in all of this is my husband.  Who silently holds space for me, gives me strength when I need it and just loves me.  Even though he has his own struggles, he finds ways to make it okay for me.

There is a need to allow myself to not feel guilty about anything.  In that there is power.   So if you are struggling, know you are  not alone.   The answers you seek are out there.  You may just have to dig a little deeper.


Rev. Colleen Irwin
Reverend Colleen Irwin is a Spiritual being having a human experience as a Blogger, Wife, Mother, Mentor, Healer and Public Speaker living in Rochester New York. Colleen, a Natural Born Medium, teaches, lectures and serves Spirit when called upon. She remembers speaking with Spirit as a child and learning how to share this knowledge with others has been an adventure that she captured in her book “Discovering Your Stream”. Colleen has been mentored by Reverend Jack Rudy, and ordained as a Priest in the Order of Melchizedek by the Reverend Dan Chesboro through the Sanctuary of the Beloved. When she is not doing her Spiritual work she is a volunteer docent sharing Susan B. Anthony's history to visitors of the Susan B. Anthony House in Rochester. Her trust in Spirit gave her a new title – PREVIVOR. She now uses her platform to educate others about the BRCA genetic mutation and how one can take control of their health and well-being.
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