Sunday, 20 January 2013



H.-P. Blavatsky interprets it by means of the Greek letters, as "the animation of the earth by the spirit of life".

I didn't pull a 360, but I got 365. That is the number not only in the calendar year but also the number of cc's of saline in my chest now. After three months of every other week visits to the plastic surgeon I am on my way to becoming a real girl again. Don't take offence to that statement, that is only from a personal naked point of view. After a mastectomy you feel like Humpty Dumpty, unsure how all the kings men will put you together again,  not only your body but your soul. A plastic piece of material inserted into your skin and blown up like a birthday balloon isn't exactly what you think is your gateway to that answer. This week as I went to what I hoped was my final expansion to my bionic breast I ended up waiting an hour and half. For some reason I was happy to sit in that waiting room alone. My life has gotten back to the new normal and off course that means work, home, cook, clean, wash, sleep and do it all again. As my life moves on and my illness becomes a thing of the past in some ways, I am grateful to just be able to be with myself and take time to reflect. Of course true to my nature that included a dozen texts and emails, god forbid I disconnect from the world for too long. They might forget me. I finally had my name called to go in. One final poke and I am done for now was all I could think. My plastic surgeon came in and as per usual greeted me with a welcoming smile and handshake and reminded me that I mattered. I highly recommend a occasional dose of validation tops you up for another day. We agreed that we would finish the fills on my expander today which meant a large amount of saline but I was good with that. I laid on the table and he searched with the magnet to find my port to insert the needle. I knew the needle would hurt more this time, and with so much poking in the last year I was pretty much done with things being inserted in me. The initial pinch and then the calm that its in. It had been a month since he last did this so I could really feel it. 40cc's , 50 cc's, keep going keep going 60 cc's. I think my chest is going to explode. It doesn't . That is it were done. Thank god I think. I know this is gonna hurt by tomorrow, and it did. The doctor has  someone with him who seem to be in training and he is showing her and talking about my chest and the work that has been done. With no sense of shyness anymore I look at her and say " your welcome to touch them". She does. I am happy to help. Sometimes things that happen to you are so surreal that you just go for it. Never in a million years did I think I would be in that situation. Life is a funny.
So once again, being good ol Sondria, I am in a thrift store with some friends the next day. My chest is hurting and I walk to what I think is my friend and start rubbing the softball in my chest and  and say "just feel how hard it is". I look up. The poor woman is trying to ignore me, her eyes turned as to not make contact with the freak asking her to touch her boob. I say I am so sorry and run away to the other side of the store killing myself laughing. Now that is a memory.
Right after my surgery this fall I had Malin take a pic of me with my newly started construction. Once again on first glance of the pics I am shocked. I had chosen to show both sides of my chest as neither were original to me. What I noticed about the pic was that I still retained a sexuality, this was evident due to my slight uncomfortableness with the nudity. I talked to Malin and as she said its cause there is a breast there. I struggled with posting it on here but I think its an honest representation of my journey that you all are reading and watching. I can talk about it day and night but seeing it creates clarity not only for myself but for those reading this blog who are either going through the same thing or are just curious about my story.
I can't end this blog without saying thank you to the women who told me recently that they read my blog. That they are moved by what I write and are able to take something away from it. The acknowledgement fills me. Sometimes we do things in isolation unaware of the greater impact.
There was an article last week in the paper about living in the present after or with cancer. I think we have to honour the past, to learn and move forward with purpose from our experience. Words like learning and forward being key. The secret to unlocking your life.
I want to thank Malin Enstrom once again for documenting my journey with photography with grace and clarity in the images she takes. The day she took these I was surprised how shy I was with opening my blouse. We took them spontaneously, and in the rain and fog. I will be forever indebted to Malin for giving me courage. Courage that I never had. Also lastly I would like the shadows from the trees for making me look like I had abs.

Please do not crop or alter these pictures without the permission of the photographer, Malin Enstrom. And please, always leave her copyright © 2012 Malin Enstrom.

Thursday, 3 January 2013

The looking glass

“It is necessary ... for a man to go away by himself ... to sit on a rock ... and ask, 'Who am I, where have I been, and where am I going?”
― Carl Sandburg

Sitting down to write this blog has been a very interesting experience for me. Wanting to tell you something significant in my journey, wanting it to be meaningful to me so that when I write it down it means something to you. Its been a month since I wrote anything, yet so much has gone on in my life. Christmas and New Years has come and gone. I am back to work full time. I started a clinical trial and think I am on the actual drug in my blind study. I am trying hard to get back to my life that was with the reality of what my life actually is today. I am changed. That is for sure.
I had lots of great times over Xmas with wonderful moments with friends and family. Just before the holidays I received a phone call one evening. It was a 83 year old lady who had read my newspaper article which her family member had saved for her. I was touched that she took the time to reach out and share who she was and what she had experienced as a breast cancer survivor. Sometimes you do something and you never realise the impact that it has on someone else. Everyone deserves to be validated in their experiences no matter what they are. I know that for sure. You need to be reassured that it was all real and that you made it. That you kicked ass even when yours was being destroyed.

One of the most humbling things that happened to me lately was when I received a email from a young woman in the United Kingdom who asked me to be part of a project she started to support her friend who has breast cancer. She had come across my blog. She asked me to write a letter to my 14 year old self. Wow thirty three years of experience to impart to myself. What would I like to tell myself. People who know me know that I am a complete reflection of where I come from and the life I have lived. What nuggets of wisdom do I have to share? I thought I would write the letter and share it on here before I send it off so here it goes.

Dear 14 year old me......
Where do I start. Your such a rose coloured glasses girl. It will be your saving grace at times. You will weather some tough times but your attitude will always get you by.
You are having a tough time with self acceptance but you will figure it out, as you grow so will your ability to know and love yourself.  Allow yourself to be a never ending story.  Don't forget that you are smart and you have a ton of potential. The answers of who should be or what you should do with your life are in everything you do. Always be self aware of your gifts. Your success will always be driven by the understanding that you deserve a good life.
You will receive love and you will lose love. Your heart will be broken, mended and will move on to love again.  Remember you are not made whole by those you love only made better. Love yourself first, its only then you can give yourself fully to another.
Your discovery of your biological family will help make it all make sense. Now you know that you were raised with great love with one family and were born of love by another. You are a very fortunate girl.
You will be a great mom and raise a pretty good template for an adult. Make sure to remember all you learned when you are parenting, biggest challenge of your life. Well that is until you turn 46.
Your going to hit a bump in the road, okay more like a crater but you will discover new strength. Your fear and doubt will drive you towards doing whatever it takes to get through. Your body will be forever changed and you will have to figure out how to accept it all.  Y our self acceptance challenged once again but hey you have been here before. Remember during this time that the ones that love you are doing the best they can.
Stay away from the " why Me's" and the "what ifs". You have learned that life is fragile and that living in the future or pondering what is already happened is time taken away from living your life now.
Be grateful for the gifts, learn from the challenges, you only have today and tomorrow hasn't come.
Open your heart to all the possibilities so you will always believe.
With great hope and encouragement

“I can't go back to yesterday because I was a different person then. ”
― Lewis CarrollAlice in Wonderland