Will your nurses mock you if you wear mascara to chemo-and you only have three eyelashes?
As an indie author, blogger, fashionista, tattooed rock and roll mama, and indie I dished the nitty-gritty details doctors leave out in my first book, “Does This Outfit Make Me Look Bald? How a Fashionista Fought Breast Cancer with Style,” a witty and okay-to-laugh-out loud journey through the unmentionables of breast cancer.
My story begins in 2007, I was a thirty-eight year old mom of two young boys, aged eleven and nine. I worked in the design offices of an internationally known fashion company. I had a loving husband, an SUV, a big dog, and a home not too far from the beach. I had a supportive family, good friends, and too many obligations. I had plenty of joy, pain, laughter, and frustrations in every area of my life, as do most married working mothers. My life was complex. My cups were full. Then I found a lump in my right breast. Shortly thereafter came the diagnosis that would forever change my life.
Breast cancer, stage IIA.
About two weeks later there I was, wandering aimlessly through the medical section of my local Barnes and Noble trying desperately to find a book that would make sense of all, give me a laugh and help me feel a little less alone. I got nothing. Zip. Zero. Nada. All the books I picked up either congratulated me on my cancer diagnosis (seriously?) or informed me that this would be an ideal time to slow down and retire (I'm sorry but I'm not familiar with either of those terms). I was told to embrace my cancer (ew!) and start living a life filled with purpose (I don't even know what that means. Purpose? I'm raising two human beings, keeping a roof over our heads and food on the table. I have a purpose thank you very much). I was so frustrated. Where was the book that said straight up having cancer sucks? Where was the book that was going to tell me I would be okay, even if I wasn't okay? Where was the book that was going to encourage me to laugh at my Franken-boobs? Well, it certainly was not on those shelves at B&N but it was inside of me. As I navigated the waters of breast cancer, bra askew, snark firmly in place, I began to keep a journal which then became the book "Does This Outfit Make Me Look Bald? How A Fashionista Fought Breast Cancer With Style."
My book release coincided with my five-year cancerversary. I was so excited. I was doing local press and book signings in and around the Jersey Shore area and most importantly, I was making a difference and helping other young women through their diagnosis. But ... six months later I found out that I had breast cancer again, because having cancer once just wasn't enough fun. That's when I began the mini-blogs on my Facebook fan page for Does This Outfit Make Me Look Bald? called Confessions From The Chemo Chair and Chemo Girls Words Of Wisdom. I was then asked by my local online paper to begin a blog there and Beating Cancer With Style - The Fashionista Fights On! was born. My blog continues to run on my own website, TheFashionistaFights.com and also on Cure Diva.
My advice? Celebrate you, you badass cancer warrior! Life is short, treatment is temporary - you need to find the fun. When your hair begins it's exodus embrace your inner anarchist and shave it into a Mohawk. Find new and unusual places to stick your adhesive nipples. Get some ink. Be brave. Be strong. Fight hard. You can do this!