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RADICAL HEALING

Let's take a different approach.

If you’re here, you’re likely either preparing for or recovering from a mastectomy or a hysterectomy.

You’ve come to the right place.

Although this work is intended to be done pre-surgery, in order to allow for the most ideal physical and emotional outcome post-surgery, it can also be done post-surgery as a way of processing and releasing the trauma and emotions, and finding acceptance for your modified body.

 

I’m here because I’ve been there, so let me take you through how I came to be here.

Want to skip to what's most relevant to you? That's okay too!

Before I had my hysterectomy in 2022, I spoke with several women who told me they were surprised by the sense of loss and/or grief that they experienced when they had hysterectomies.

I understand the body-mind-spirit connection. I understand cellular memory. I understand how much we - women - tend to bury and store in our womb spaces throughout our lives -- trauma, often related to sexual abuse; mother wounds; sister wounds; money wounds; the conflict between masculine and our Divine Feminine. There's so much there that most women don't even think to acknowledge.

​I knew that and so, armed with the wisdom of the women who had gone before me, I did the emotional work necessary to acknowledge and release the emotions related to having my uterus removed and reclaiming the womb space for myself, as a space of fertility and birth in a whole new way, for a whole new stage of my life.

It is ironic that it was nine months later that I came to be sitting in a general surgeon’s office, talking about a mastectomy.

I was 17 when my maternal grandmother died of inflammatory breast cancer, and 19 when that same cancer killed my mother at the age of 43. At 19 years old, I was told that I needed to have annual MRIs in order to properly screen for the cancer that seemed most likely to kill me. In my late 20s, I had genetic testing done (just prior to going on vacation. 10/10 do not recommend.) I had no known breast cancer gene. While that was wonderful news, it wasn’t a known breast cancer gene that I believed was going to kill me, and possibly before I even knew my grandchildren, just like my mother.

Despite my self-advocacy from that very young age, I was 45 before MRIs became a part of my routine screening. At the age of 46, a routine MRI detected PASH, a rare breast disease which, while not a precursor to breast cancer, is a precursor to sarcoma. That’s what took me to that general surgeon’s office that day. He was wonderful and patient in answering the long list of questions that I had for him, but also very matter of fact when he told me that, as far as he was concerned, a bilateral mastectomy was “medically necessary”, and he didn’t understand why it hadn’t been recommended to me 20 years ago.

“If I was your wife…?”

“If you were my wife,” he told me, “you would have already had this surgery. Now, if you were my ex-wife, well… take your time. There’s no need to hurry this decision.” (He was, of course, kidding.)

What seemed like a difficult decision an hour earlier suddenly didn’t seem so difficult.

That was May. I had the “luxury” of determining that I wanted to have surgery around the holidays, when my business was traditionally slow, so after I met with the plastic surgeon in August, I was able to “forget” about the surgery for a while until we actually had a surgery date on the books, which wouldn’t come until mid-October.

 

My surgery was scheduled for November 20, and I was suddenly overwhelmed. There were so many emotions, and I felt completely out of control. As someone with PTSD, “out of control” is a really uncomfortable feeling for me, so doing the emotional work before surgery wasn’t an option for me. It was an absolute necessity. As I started to examine what was there, I realized just how much work there was to be done in those few short weeks.

There were so many emotions to sort through. I had emotions related to the journey –the lack of support offered by the healthcare system throughout my life and the fact that I had to advocate for myself for so many years; the relief that, at 45, my GYN finally listened and offered a solution that led to the recommendation for annual MRIs; and more relief that my astronomical cancer risk was going to be decreased to less than 5% as a result of this surgery.

There was fear. I was afraid of an 11+ hour surgery. I was afraid of the pain. I was afraid of the recovery. And I was afraid of the physical outcome – I was opting to decrease my breast size from DDD to a C cup. I hadn’t been a C cup since I was 12. I couldn’t conceive of what that would look like on my body. Further complicating that was the fact that I had chosen a DIEP flap reconstruction, which meant that my stomach was also going to look different after surgery, and I didn’t know what that would look like. I’d Googled “after” images, and some were rather horrific, looking as if the surgeon had just taken a chunk of tissue with no effort to try to give a pleasing aesthetic result. I was too afraid to ask my plastic surgeon what his approach would be, beyond a timid, “And you’ll make sure it looks good, right?” What I knew was that I would be going to sleep with one torso and waking up with another, and I couldn’t imagine what that torso would look like, and I had absolutely no control over that outcome beyond simply choosing not to have the surgery and telling the surgeon my preferences for reconstruction options and breast size.

I was also afraid of how the physical outcome would impact my body image, my sexuality, and my dating life. Would my current partner still find me attractive? Would my scars or lack of nipples deter potential future partners? Would I feel comfortable being naked in front of a partner, current or future? Would I have sensation in my breasts? What about nerve pain? How bad would the scarring be?

 

Would I hate looking at myself?

Would I regret this decision?

Would I regret it more if I didn’t have the surgery and cancer made the decision for me a year from now, or five years from now?

I had to acknowledge the trauma that I carried in my breasts – the consent violations, which began when I was nine years old and barely had breasts to speak of, and carried throughout my life -- all those times that boys and men touched my breasts, twisted my nipples, snapped my bra, dropped something down my shirt, made lewd comments, or simply stared, as though my breasts were community property. I had to acknowledge that I hadn’t taken a full, deep breath since I began wearing bras at the age of 11, already in a B cup, because deep breaths drew more attention to my budding chest than it was already garnering. I needed to release all of that trauma that I had been carrying there.

And then there were the stories about who I was as it was related to my breasts. I was a busty woman, but I wouldn’t be as busty after the surgery. I was a chubby woman, but I wouldn’t be as chubby after the surgery. I’ve already talked about the story I’d internalized at 19 about how I was likely going to die young of inflammatory breast cancer, just like my mother. I’d already outlived her. This surgery meant that I would have a good chance of outliving my grandmother, too. Who would I be? Who could I be, with this future that I’d never allowed myself to believe in?

There was a lot to sort through and process in four short weeks.

So I sat with those emotions, fears, traumas, and stories, and I did the work necessary to release them. When I looked at my body for the first time after the surgery, even with fresh incisions and temporary drains - the accoutrements of a very recent operation - I thought, "Of course this is what my body looks like now." My plastic surgeon's team called that "amazing," and said that most women cry when they look at themselves for the first time after surgery. 

Most women heal from the hurt instead of healing from the heart.

My friend, I want you, too, to look in the mirror and have that same level of acceptance for the body that has always been, and forever will be, perfectly imperfect.

 

Through my own journey, I realized that I am uniquely equipped to offer this healing to other women -- to uncover the stories, the traumas, the consent violations, the grief, the shame; whatever it is that has been trapped, hidden, buried, or carefully tucked away for safe keeping in her breasts or womb, to determine what needs to be gently moved somewhere else to be held and what needs to be examined, acknowledged, perhaps thanked, and released, in order to energetically create a blank canvas for the surgeons, and allow for less physical and emotional trauma for the woman. 

 

Here's something I've learned through my own journey: in the U.S., at least - where somewhere between 100,000-150,000 women have mastectomies each year, and that number rises as more women are having prophylactic mastectomies in response to genetic testing or in lieu of lumpectomies - emotional support is generally not advised as part of the treatment process.

By contrast, when my cousin cut her finger off, it was suggested to her that she seek out counseling to deal with that loss.

A mastectomy is an amputation of a functional part of a woman's body, and should be treated as such, which would necessitate proper emotional support throughout the journey.

And here's another not-so-fun fact: approximately 1 in 5 women regret having her mastectomy, regardless of whether that mastectomy was the result of cancer or prophylactic, generally citing a lack of proper emotional support as the reason for that regret. It's important to note here that a woman can have issues with body image, sexuality, intimacy, or experience grief or a sense of loss without reporting that she regrets having had the surgery. Psychological issues among women who have had mastectomies are well known and well-documented, but we do not live in a society which properly values mental health and, more specifically, mental health care, so this gap in the patient care delivery model has been allowed to simply exist.

I'm here to fill the gap, both by offering the emotional support to woman that is so incredibly needed and by working to fix the broken system that has allowed this gap to exist in the first place.

 

There is much that I do in my line of work. Working with women who are preparing for, or have had, mastectomies or hysterectomies is my most sacred calling.

 

Every client follows their own journey. Coaching is individualized and customized to your specific experience and desired outcomes, and this process is certainly no exception to that rule. Even though I am a spiritual being, this journey is about YOU finding your own authentic alignment, which means that the process is facilitated by me, but has absolutely nothing to do with me otherwise. My modalities are what they are, but my beliefs do not make their way into my work unless they happen to align with your own. It is my job to meet you where you are and, during our time together, to align with your model of the world.

For me, Ceremony was an important part of my journey prior to both my hysterectomy and my mastectomy.
 

I went to Ceremony before my hysterectomy, to acknowledge and release all of the emotions and trauma held in my womb space, and the cells and tissues that would be removed from my body, leaving an empty space. That space, too, I was claiming as my own.
 

When it came time for my mastectomy, I knew that I needed Ceremony again -- I knew that I *needed* Ceremony, but I was finding myself paralyzed; I couldn't bring myself to do it. When I sat with that, I realized that it was because it was bigger than I was. I needed someone else to facilitate that Ceremony for me. I needed to be allowed to just experience and release. So I reached out to a friend who is also a Reiki Master and Shaman, and I put myself in her capable hands. She did a lovely job, and I was surprised by some of the things that came up.
 

But neither of us had ever had mastectomies, so neither of us had an understanding of what I really needed, or even what questions to ask to fully figure that out.
 

Now, I know, and I have built a fully customizable offering for other woman based on that knowledge.

For those of you who do want to be witnessed in Ceremony, whether just by me or by your own support system of women, I'm happy to design a custom Ceremony specific to your situation, offering the intimacy and comfort of sisterhood; circle; ceremony; safe, sacred space; being witness, acknowledged, accepted, seen, heard, supported, held, and celebrated as the woman you were in your "before," and who you will become in your "after." 

I am challenging you to reconsider how you view your health care. So often - for women, especially - we have a willingness to spend money on caring for others, whether that care is "essential" or not. However, self-care is still considered a luxury and, therefore, an unnecessary expense that we often can't justify, even if we can afford it. 

We need to reimagine our relationship with our bodies and with our healthcare providers.

Body - Mind - Spirit

WANT TO PAY IT FORWARD?

It's not unusual, as a coach, to be contacted by a prospective client in need who is unable to afford my services. This situation becomes even more difficult because it's medically related, but not covered by insurance.

If you would like to pay it forward and donate to allow me to work with those clients who are experiencing financial hardship, please contact me directly.

Choose Your Own Adventure
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