Journeying to the Other Side of Breast Cancer: And Beauty is Her Name…

Let me first say if you haven’t noticed already I love music. I do not pigeonhole myself by choosing to only listen to one particular genre or by making the ridiculous decision to listen to music according to the race or ethnicity of the artist singing or playing it. Instead, I choose what I listen to based upon what I can actually stand to listen to. Some “secular” songs are just a bunch of venomous, vulgar words strategically sung or rhythmically spoken over top of music or a beat. To me, that is not music anyway. It’s just a bunch of noise (strictly, my personal opinion. I totally respect yours if you disagree). In the same vein, some “Gospel” songs aren’t really Gospel as much as they are inspirational (again, just my opinion), which doesn’t bother me at all. It’s still music.

I also love to sing. I am the headliner of my shower and the star of the one-woman shows I perform daily in my bedroom. On our way to or from one of my many doctor appointments, as I was singing the song playing on the radio, my mom said “You have a beautiful voice (of course, she’s not the least bit biased because I am her daughter. Not only that, what mother do you know would say to her daughter that has breast cancer, ‘Oh by the way, you do know you can’t sing, right?’ LOL).

Anyone reading this who is around my age (46) and happens to have been a member of First Baptist Church of Glenarden (in Maryland) when it was located in the original building on Brightseat Road, down the street from Landover Mall, will appreciate the story my mom then told me about when I was a “Sunbeam.” For those of you who do not know what I am talking about, the Sunbeams is the name of the children’s choir at the First Baptist Church of Glenarden. When I and my sister, Leslie, were Sunbeams (over 40 years ago – WOW!), we wore these bright yellow choir robes, which made perfect sense. We were Sunbeams after all (the new Sunbeams get to wear cute color coordinated outfits. So, are they really Sunbeams like we were? Lol). My mom said the choir director let me be in the choir with my sister when I was three years old and she was six. I don’t know what the age threshold was, but it was older than three. So, unless other such concessions were made over the last 43 years, I may have been the youngest Sunbeam ever! What an honor. My mom said I sang the songs, but spent most of the time asleep on the choir director’s lap once our time to “shine” was finished.

I said all of that to say, after the stroke in 2011 I lost a lot of who I once was. But, God in His graciousness, mercy, and unfailing love for me not only left me with my love for music. But, enhanced it. Prior to the stroke, I didn’t wake up humming or singing what I call my “Heaven Songs”, which are melodies or full songs that are somehow downloaded in my brain overnight. I didn’t have my daily headliner gig in my shower. And my one-woman shows did not exist. I am convinced if I could really sing and had any musical gifting at all, I would be dangerous. Maybe I’ll add learning how to play an instrument to my “things I WILL do” list.

One morning last week, after I got out of the shower, I stood naked (is that TMI? In the world we live in now, I don’t think there is such a thing anymore, but if it is I’m sorry) in front of my bedroom mirror and tried to imagine what my body would look like without breasts. My bra size is 38 D (again, forgive me if that is TMI). I stood there for several moments trying to visualize myself without my 38 D’s prominently posted in their normal position (which at 46, having had three children, is much more south than I would like them to be, but such is life). Standing there I recalled how I felt when I had to have a hysterectomy 13 years ago. I already had three children, but still felt like I was less of a woman somehow. My doctor assured me it was not unusual to feel that way after a hysterectomy, but couldn’t be further from the truth (Leslie, yes, I am resisting the temptation to tell the story Aunt Mary shared with you because I know for SURE that is TMI! You can thank me later).

The medical advancements that are now available for women with breast cancer are wonderful. If you have to have or choose a mastectomy or bilateral mastectomy (removal of both breasts) you have options as to how you would like that area of your body to look afterward. But, even with all of the options available, I’m sure it does not erase the emotional and mental effects of having a part of your body removed that at one time you may have used to feed your baby, or what may have been one of the parts of your body your husband/boyfriend/man/significant other or even you, for that matter, liked most. As I pulled myself away from the mirror my heart began to ache for all of the women who have had or will have to stand in the mirror and no longer see the breasts they once had in their normal position. As I started to get dressed, the chorus of the song “Beauty,” by Dru Hill began to play in my mind. The words are, “Walks by me everyday, her and love are the same. The woman that’s stolen my heart. And beauty is her name.” So, I put on my headphones and listened to the song.

When the song ended Jesus softly repeated something He said to me a few years ago, “Of all the flowers in creation none can compare to the most precious and delicate of them all, a woman. She is the softness, the delicacy of humanity. Her gentle, quiet spirit, should she choose to put it on, captures My heart. Though some have reduced her to body parts, only seeing the parts of her that ignite their lusts, I look upon her as with the eyes of a Master Artisan admiring His most treasured work of art. I see the beauty in every perfectly placed imperfection and declare each one beauty-full. I see the beauty of the heart within, which too often escapes the naked eye. Each time you look in the mirror remember: ‘Beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder.’ Then look again and see through My eyes.”

1 Peter 3:3-4 (NKJV) says, “Do not let your adornment be merely outward—arranging the hair, wearing gold, or putting on fine apparel—rather let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God.”

So, ladies…big boobs, small boobs, no boobs, big hips, small hips, big butt, small butt, size 0 or the largest size available, and every size in between…no matter where you fall on the spectrum you are ABSOLUTELY BEAUTIFUL, just because you are a woman created with the “incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is vey precious in the sight of God.” Rather or not you choose to walk in, and be who you were created to be is purely your choice. For today, I hope we ALL choose to be beautiful!

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