My fiancé Kevin and I got engaged on a random Thursday night this past March. The best part is that it was totally one of those moments where you kind of black out and don't really remember what is going on, but I do remember calling all my girlfriends and saying "OMG I just got engaged at 5:30 p.m. on a Thursday!" Not only was it a random Thursday in March, but it was also just two weeks and a few days shy of my first surgery date. So unknowingly at the time, I became not just the 25-year-old having the double mastectomy, but the engaged 25-year-old having the mastectomy. It was something that somehow managed to fascinate people around me, and was also the absolute best distraction at the absolute best possible time. (Props to Kev on timing that one up just right.)
And so the shuffling began. Managing wedding planning and surgery, and then recovering, while still wedding planning. So we celebrated for two weeks, and then got into surgery mode. Looking back it all went so fast that I'm not sure I realized the full extent of life's craziness until now, but I'd do it all over again. What better of a time to be surrounded by friends, family and supporters?
So what did I learn from this process? That's the important part. There were many lessons I stumbled upon through the course of being the engaged double mastectomy girl (still am, so keep 'em coming), and this is one of those posts I hope some awesome chick out there either contemplating or going through a preventative surgery like mine can find and take comfort in. Because your engagement is supposed to be fun! And it totally is, even if you're going through a trying time. And it also goes for those that may not have a significant other in their lives yet and worry about having the surgery before finding love. I want to guarantee you there are men out there who will love you, scars and all, and planning your future wedding will be a piece of cake after you've conquered your high-risk.
What I want you to remember:
No one needs to know, or can tell from the outside, unless you want them to I am a prime example of this. You would be surprised that after going through an 8+ hour surgery, a night in the hospital and having horrible drains in you for a week, after week two or three of recovery, no one can really tell by looking at you on the outside. The first wedding venues I looked at, I went to during my initial recovery. I got myself together, put on some makeup, straightened my hair, and no one would have ever known what I was going through. It was a confidence booster for me. To get out and about and be "the bride" looking at venues, with the wedding coordinators not having a clue. I just want women to know that. It's not a scarlet letter you're wearing on your chest. You're still the same chick, in my case engaged chick, that you were before. Don't let your surgery, your recovery, the scars, anything define you. Because at the end of the day, you're still you and a little self-pride can do you well.
People in the wedding industry have seen it all This is phenomenal to me! I was so, so fortunate to have two of my awesome friends Grace and Anne make me an appointment at KLEINFELD'S in NYC while I was in the city for a trip earlier this summer. I mean, going to Kleinfeld's is every engaged chick's dream. And here I was living it! Aside from the hilariousness of the place itself, the crazy women inside and the extreme amount of bridal gowns everywhere, what I took away from this experience was how unfazed they were at my current situation. Before we began the process of picking gowns for me to try on, I awkwardly spoke up and said "Umm there's something I think I should tell you." The woman working with us looked at me and said, "Honey, that doesn't bother me one bit, I've seen it all." And seriously acted like I was the crazy one for thinking it was a big deal. Her and her assistant put me in and out of dresses like I was any other woman in there, and that made me feel so at ease. It was the weekend before my "exchange" surgery, so my expanders were at their fullest, AKA most uncomfortable, stage, yet these women put me in dresses and made me feel completely beautiful. It didn't matter what I was going through on the inside; I was a beautiful bride-to-be that day.
Remember why you're engaged, and don't ever stop celebrating that Engagement is about the love between the two of you. Not just you. Not just him. And this was something I had to remind myself. I was the one having the dramatic few months, with hospitals and attention, but the engagement and wedding planning process helped me remember why I deserved some extra positivity even through the pain and hard days. We're getting married! We're planning what will be the best day and night of our lives! And that is worth celebrating every day, whether you're in pain from the expanders or not. Having my wedding to plan and look forward to 100% got me through my recovery. Sure, planning a wedding comes with a bit of drama and tough decisions, but at the end of the day, I'm the luckiest girl in the world and I had Kevin by my side to celebrate every day.
I am so blessed to have the next six months to continue celebrating my engagement, future wedding and the life we have to look forward to. I may be that chick who had the double mastectomy right now, but at the end of the day, I'm still just thrilled to be Kevin's fiancé .