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From Scars to Beautiful: My Breast Cancer Journey

fight-like-a-girl-photoAs women, we just want to beautiful.  We all define that in different terms – we want to have big hearts and care for others; we want to be attractive to gain the love of our significant other or we want to leave a legacy of making the world a better place. Our intentions are good then life gets in the way and we experience heart breaks, tragedies and failures.   

At the age of 24, my father committed suicide in our backyard.   Living through that tragedy and seeing my mother try to pick up the pieces and keep our family knitted together was a very emotional and sad time for me.  As most, I was able to rely on my faith in God and friends that gave unbelievable support to me and my family.  Then life goes on and we regroup.

At the age of 31, I found myself going through a divorce with a one year old daughter.  Not a proud moment in my life – again there was great support from friends and family and life went on.    We gather emotional scars from our decisions and circumstances and it can take a toll on our self-worth and self-image – the way we see our personal beautiful. 

At the age of 46, I was faced with a different crossroads in my life.  I was diagnosed with breast cancer.

The first thought of mine was I don’t have time for this.   And if you know me, you probably know the tone I used.  But I grew a great perspective on life through that battle.

The first year was a blur as I faced so many decisions around treatment options, surgeons, and the stress put on my family all while dealing with the emotional scare of it all.  I had a great faith in God and friends and family that pulled me through that difficult time of unknowns, surgeries and recovery.  

My last reconstructive surgery was a year ago this month. I am proud and blessed to say that I have recovered fully and mentally accepted that I am cancer free now. But, I’ve entered yet another phase of recovery that not very people talk about.   That of seeing myself as beautiful again.  When I see my scars and that I look completely different – not normal in my eyes – it is really hard to feel good about myself. I think I am better at covering up the emotional scars that have gained over my life but the physical scars of my breast cancer remind me every day that I have been altered and I am not what I once was.

I remember in the beginning of my diagnosis, I had such great perspective on life and how blessed I was.  I was strong and I attacked the cancer battle with great confidence and vigor.   I always told myself I would never forget how I blessed I am and I would wake up every day knowing that God had me on this earth for a purpose.  And that purpose was burning deep!   

Then life went on… I became lukewarm to that burning perspective that I had once been so scared to learn.  I slowly have become aware that the problem was my perspective on my new normal.  I approach issues like this with humor – so many of you have heard me say – I will have the perkiest assets in the nursing home, or now if I could only figure out how to replace a few other parts of my body I would be on the cover of Sports Illustrated. But underneath the humor was me adjusting to being okay with my body and scars and letting go of the self-consciousness that comes with that.  

Our world changes our hearts in so many ways, our decisions throughout our lives causes emotional scars internally and then our minds get busy creating self-limiting beliefs and throw us into the doubting mode. What I have learned with the emotional scars I have gained and the physical scars I have earned is that all the scars from our life experiences just add to our individual beauty.  My hope for myself and for you is that you know that you are beautiful just the way you are – scars and all. So start living like it!

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annetteAnnette White – Klososky is an Oklahoma native, originally from Hooker, OK, but now resides in Edmond, OK. She is a wife, mom, and a partner at Future Point of View, a technology and consulting firm. Annette is a sought-after consultant and executive coach in all facets of organizational culture and leadership development. She is known for helping organizations cut through the issues and learn to communicate effectively within teams. She is also known for making THE BEST gluten free chocolate chip cookies ever, being the best mom to her spoiled rotten dogs, cheering loudly and being a loyal OU fan, and also keeping Starbucks in business (she loves her trenta iced green teas).

 

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