A Different Kind of #MetsMonday

I love posting information each Monday on Facebook in honor of #MetsMonday. Today, however, I want to dedicate to all women living with breast cancer,  whether you were just diagnosed or are 10 years NED. Breast cancer never really goes away, mets or no mets. From what I’ve come to understand by many women, it’s something that always lingers.

If you’re going through treatment, it’s one decision after another. What treatment path should I take? Should I get both breasts removed or just the one? Should I get a second opinion? What if I make the wrong decision?

The questions keep coming with NED. As soon as you’re into year one of NED, you’re already asking yourself, Will I make it through to year two? Will my cancer come back? You read the statistics and each year, especially during the first two, you wonder. Others who are NED are too worried about the other problems that come along with having had cancer, like lymphedema, cording, insomnia and so much more.

Then there are the outwardly physical concerns — breast reconstruction, nipples, comfort. More decisions. Size, shape, nipples or no nipples, tattoos, no reconstruction. And whether women have had reconstruction or not, they still have to look down every day and see something that is foreign to them.

This is where I want to talk about my good friend, Stupid Dumb Breast Cancer founder Ann Marie Giannino-Otis. Ann Marie has been NED for 2.5 years and had reconstruction twice — after the first, her implant shifted into her armpits (holy mother of ouch) — cording on her left side and nerve damage and lymphedema on the right. She has felt the pain and sees the scars daily and has just been stripped mentally and physically by breast cancer. Her life is forever changed because of it.

But the beauty of Ann Marie is that she’s great at taking something shitty and transforming it into something beautiful. Instead of getting nipple implants or areola repigmentation, Ann Marie decided to go with straight up tattoos. “I wanted something to remind me of beauty and growth. Since healing is just that right?” she said in her blog post about her new ink. I think the pictures I am about to post are truly an inspiration to all women who aren’t sure which decision in their breast cancer journey is the right one. The answer? There is no right decision, but you have to do the best by you. Put yourself first, regardless of what other people think. Do whatever it takes to make you feel beautiful again. And that’s exactly what Ann Marie does every day of her life.

I dedicate this #MetsMonday not only to the men and women living with metastatic breast cancer, but to those simply living with the haunting after effects of cancer. Each and every day is yours. And you are beautiful.

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Photo by Genevieve Fridley

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Photo by Genevieve Fridley

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Photo by Genevieve Fridley

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Photo by Genevieve Fridley

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Photo by Genevieve Fridley

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Photo by Genevieve Fridley

 

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