Recently, I became a magazine model. Did I ever think I would model? NO - not even when I had an undeveloped teenager’s mind did I ever ever think I would or COULD model. When I look back now, I realize I was really beautiful but I always felt NOT beautiful. I compared myself to everyone and anyone - I recall like yesterday being about 12 (so almost my daughter’s age now) and watching Janet Jackson’s “That’s the Way Love Goes…” music video on MTV (you know, when MTV used to play music videos) and feeling just huge and hideous and wishing I could look as trim and fit and as beautiful as she did.
I realize now that she had a team of people to make her look the way she did in that video and that it is insane for girls women to compare ourselves to stars, musicians and now, IG models and reality TV stars.
Most photos you see out in the world for advertising purposes are photoshopped and airbrushed and videos are also treated after the shooting before we see them so we really should NOT compare ourselves but it is what we do.
After cancer, I find myself doing this less and being more “content” with my body, my face, my weird facial expressions and you know, ME. I also am less fearful of like anything (IDGAF) and just doing things way outside my comfort zone (exhibitionist).
When I first shared with some friends that I would be posing topless and showing body positivity to the point of being a 41 year old (so middle aged) one breasted woman, some folks were shocked and wondering why I felt this need to show my body NOW. I mean, do not get me wrong, as a young lady, I wore string bikinis and “sexy” clothes but as I got older, I became more conservative and though I would show cleavage, I would not show too much and never ever posed naked - I mean, I was a professor / teacher and an executive - we never want to be found with naked pics out there because then it becomes the front page of the New York Post…
So when my friends pushed back, I explained how it was so important to me to show that even though my body has been mutilated and I have lost a piece of what is considered “feminine” by chopping off that tit, I am still happy with my body and sexy in my own way. I would share more about sex but I am married and NO ONE wants to know about married people’s sex life - if I were single and swiping right on Tinder, everyone would be down with it but because I am married, it is icky… lol.
I am also too prudish to write about that stuff anyway - but I am naked in this month’s amazing Body Issue for Wildfire Magazine. This magazine is all about breast cancer and a portion of the proceeds are donated to cancer charities. The magazine has been in print since 2015 AD FREE and showcases the true story of breast cancer with images, stories, coloring inserts and more.
My lovely photo taken by the amazing Sophie Mayanne of Behind the Scars was picked to be put in the magazine and check it out - it is a FULL PAGE image and on the next page is a little bit about my body image and my post mastectomy experience as well as a listing of my nonprofit, too!
If you have the time and are interested in an amazingly crafted with love magazine about our experiences and life with breast cancer, sign up to get copies here - you can get digital copies or printed ones! It is a great resource to find your tribe, to learn about things in the community and to give back, all at the same time!
The magazine is AD-FREE and a portion of each new subscription is donated to MBC/Stage IV research. WILDFIRE supports METAvivor and The Cancer Couch Foundation.
Check it out today! This is what I do in the time between.... share life as a "uniboober" and smile, every damn day -- come on over and tell me what you do in the time between in the comments or via insta.
I am not an exhibitionist. As a teenager, I spent a lot of time in revealing clothing because I was no allowed to go anywhere; for instance, I had a 12am curfew until I left the country at 21 years old and often spent time at people's houses not at the club or anything like that. As I got older, I learned the art of clothing that fits and keeps things covered - I would often, though, show cleavage especially as my weight went up and it seemed those hills would detract / hide my stomach - I write about it here --> complicated-history-of-boobs-a-treatise-by-a-breast-cancer-patient.html.
I am still not an exhibitionist BUT I have done a few photo shoots over the last two days that might make your scratch your head and think otherwise.
On Sunday, an organization called The Magic Hour arranged for my family and I to have a photo session free of charge with Jessica Leigh Photography (www.photographybyjessicaleigh.com/ ). Jessica and I had spoken a few times in advance before the session and I just felt like I knew her in real life before she even showed up at my doorstep with tons of camera equipment and an easy, relaxed smile.
My children gravitated and warmed up to her immediately. She does something called "unscripted life sessions" and these photos are nothing like you see at Sears or Picture People or even other photographers I had worked with in the past. She does not "pose" you instead the photos are the real YOU.
For me, this new me, this pixie haired, one boobed, clinging on with all I got to being cured me is ALL ABOUT THIS. I wanted photos that reflected who we truly are as a family, what we learned from breast cancer and how we are just at home, together and that quiet strength that we all have honed specifically over the last 15 months.
You see, though I was the one diagnosed with cancer, we ALL had cancer. My son who told me he would visit me in the cemetery because "lots of people with cancer die", my daughter who was stoic and happy throughout the whole process until it was over and she let herself be afraid and need comfort, my husband who mustered up all of his strength and love for me even though at times before I was diagnosed we were anything but "love-y". Even the darn dog was effected.
So this past Sunday, Jessica arrived and immediately won every one of us over and got us doing our things - playing board games, cuddling on my bed and just individual action shots of the kids jumping on my bed - of course, what kid doesn't love to jump on their parents' beds!
We then did some individual shots of me that showcased my warrior battle scar from breast cancer. It was powerful and the shots were amazing. I cannot wait to see them! All of them!
Today, I had another photo shoot and this one was way more revealing than anything I have ever done before full stop. I had heard about The Grace Project (the-grace-project.org/) at the beginning of my "public" exposure as a blogger / advocate about breast cancer screenings and sharing my story. I immediately messaged the photographer to volunteer to be photographed. At the time, it seemed like it was a long shot to be asked to get photographed but already I could tell that it would be a powerful statement for me to make as a "young-ish" survivor in training who did not reconstruct for the women out there who feel that without their boob(s) that they are LESS THAN or who tried to reconstruct and had issues with infection or removal or even those who do not want their boobs anyway but still wonder about whether or not they are "beautiful".
I am lucky in that, despite being super dependent on my boobs for most of my life either in wearing low cut tops or using my cleavage to disguise my belly, I really do not miss having a pair of tits. The one is enough for me and if I had my way, I would have opted to take lefty off, too.
I am leaving my prosthetic behind more and more and just acclimating to this new body, this new shape and all that. I was honored when the photographer Charise Isis let me know she would be in New York and I jumped at the chance to be photographed by her. She is a powerhouse of a woman who shares "broken is still beautiful" as a belief system and documents women who have had mastectomies to survive breast cancer. She takes photos representing the women as Greek goddesses and my experience with her today in a penthouse-adjacent apartment near Times Square was a powerful, moving and empowering experience and I cannot wait to share the images with you in a few months when I get them.
So I am going way out of my comfort zone and doing things I never ever thought I would do but I know it is the right thing - I want to normalize this new normal for others who are going through it. Cancer sucks but saying that does not make it all better, it does not make the scars you see and those you can't see disappear. We are all in stages of repair and recovery as we wait in the time between.
To find out more about The Grace Project or to donate to her work at healing breast cancer warriors, click here the-grace-project.org
I was profiled on HeyMama.com all about what it means to me to blog through my breast cancer plot twist. This is the first time I have really spoken out about what it is like for my children knowing I was diagnosed and seeing me go through this beast of a disease.
I made a video, which I posted here my-thoughts-on-my-first-october-with-breast-cancer-vlog.html to talk about what it means to be a breast cancer patient, survivor, victim during October.
The UnderBelly Breast Cancer #In6Words Project
Over the summer, I was asked to make a photo with the six words that document my breast cancer experience. In watching the finished product, I am so proud to have been a part of this powerful project. When I watched the video showing all of the photos, I was humbled, touched and a little surprised. Most of the photos are showcasing the real deal - all about the breast cancer reality check we all need to share and know. Breast cancer is not PINK, it is not about girl power, it is not about making things pink and selling them. It is about grief, heartache, surgery, chemotherapy, being strong, tough, and hopefully helping those afflicted with cancer. Cancer is something that takes away your comfort or your ability to be just you.
You are no longer just you - though you are you but to everyone who looks at you, you are just a sick person, someone without hair or without a breast - but inside, stripped of all of that, you are still you. I am me - spoken about here am-i-me.html- for me, I was quiet and had no voice for so long - now I am out and proud and sharing my story but I have the twist of positivity. I cannot help but be as smile-y as possible and to consider myself a survivor no matter what happens.
Check out my sisters in this plot twist of breast cancer in the link below.
And more to come...
Continue to watch this space, I have a ton of blog posts in draft and I even recently took a TOPLESS photo (OMG, I am petrified about this - but it is just of my chest ... so I will pretend not to pass out when it gets posted). I am still me and I am very damn tough.
This is what I do in the time between.
The Time Between Is, INC is a 501(c)(3) corporation - help us reach our goals of launching #balanceaftercancer
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