Before and After

makeup and makeup brushesWhen reading recently about the three amazing young women who have been chosen as Amoena’s Ambassadors, I was particularly moved by the news they will each receive a make-over as part of the experience. After the ordeals of dealing with breast cancer, who wouldn’t love a bit of pampering and preening to help with the healing process? Personally, I’ve never experienced a professional make-over, but as a breast cancer survivor I think I’ve made myself over several times as I’ve traveled the path away from the fear and uncertainty a diagnosis so often brings with it.

With my initial diagnosis back in 1996 as a breast cancer newbie, I remember having moments where I wondered if my life would ever be the same. Actually, at that time I worried more about whether I would live, because back then the Internet was still in its infancy so very few women were sharing their stories beyond their own circle of friends. To me, because no one was talking about it, I feared breast cancer was a death sentence.

Most women weren’t sharing their stories at all because there was still such a stigma attached to discussing a woman’s breasts. I distinctly recall making the decision to try to move the conversation about breast cancer forward, so in a way, I made myself over just a bit. I changed from being a woman who held her tongue and shied away from confrontation to a breast cancer “warrior”. I refused to allow someone to silence me or to make me feel as though discussing my breasts was in any way unacceptable. Women were dying, for God’s sake, so my feeling was, get over it!

Then when I was diagnosed again in 2005, after my initial disbelief, I once again spent  time wondering if I could survive breast cancer twice. Thankfully, I had interviewed many women who had either had recurrences or second primary cancers, so I knew it wasn’t necessarily a death sentence. By this time, the Internet was allowing women to share stories and outcomes, so I decided rather than dwell on the disease, I would continue to find ways to make myself over and use my experiences to become stronger and more in touch with how women’s health issues had somehow managed to be put on a back burner for so many years.

And now, nearly 20 years after breast cancer became a part of my life, I’m preparing myself for yet another make-over, one countless women have endured with grace and dignity. Because so many of you have shared your stories over the years, I am not afraid of losing my breasts; in fact, I am actually feeling relieved that perhaps I will be able to put the worry about this disease behind me and focus on finding ways to help other women.

I can’t wait to see the results of Ginger, Eden and Carletta’s physical make-overs, because when I saw their beautiful faces I wondered how such perfection could be improved. I think many of us don’t fully appreciate our true beauty until we are faced with something that shakes us to our very core. And one of the things I love so much about women is their ability to get up and start over again. Way before the make-up, new clothes and hairstyles, Ginger, Eden and Carletta had already started the process of making themselves over – or they wouldn’t have been chosen in the first place.

Just think of the lives these three Amoena Ambassadors will touch!

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