My Bravado Is Back! 

I have owned it.
I’ve identified with it.
I am Proud.
And I Celebrate.

In parallel,
there are still times
it almost seems like
it happened to a different person.
A universe on a lateral plane.

I see myself on a video screen…
It does not look like me.
It doesn’t feel like me.
It feels like someone
totally separate from me.

Sometimes I wonder,
who is this woman
who looks back at me?
I am proud of her.
I am in awe of her.
I am amazed
she is me.

She stands
before humanity,
completely exposed.
Emotionally.
Spiritually.
Physically.

Openly sharing the scars
that burned her soul.
Displaying the indelible
Purple Heart
slashed across her chest.
The remnants of
relentless mutilation.

Where was the turn?
When was the shift?
There was a time,
she could barely
have her husband look upon her.
Even the mirror
was her foe.
Now she’s poised
before the world to behold.

She. Me. Her. I.
broke through a protective barrier,
without even knowing it,
until stepping through the debris.
Brick by brick,
the Dividing Wall
melted away.
Almost imperceivable.

The Phoenix has risen,
soaring through
the majestic sky,
over the mountaintops,
to new heights,
and a breathtaking view!
Panoramic landscapes.

No more hiding.
Like a long lost friend,
my bravado is back!

Nancy L. Baskin Michlin
May 14 – 16, 2015
Poem #396
STRIPPED: Deconstructed + Reconstructed

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HERE I AM!!

I will never forget the anxiety and fear I felt this night three years ago. It was the night before my first mastectomy. I said to my husband Chris, in the protection of his arms lovingly wrapped around me, crying on his chest, “I don’t want to do this.” I inhaled and sighed with all the resolve I could muster, “But you know I will.”

I cannot begin to tell you what I felt that night. I was scared, grabbing onto my breasts, holding on to them as tightly as I could, knowing the left one had to go. I wanted to run away and hide on a warm, beautiful island. When I closed my eyes, I could almost feel the warm, ocean air caressing my skin. Upon opening my eyes, that same air chilled me to my bones. I knew as far as I could run, the stalker, the beast would still be on my heels. I knew I would do whatever it took to get, and stay, cancer-free.

Three years later, HERE I AM!! That night, I had no idea what was to come or who I’d be today! Stronger, healthier, and better than ever before!! Nancy Version 2.0!! There is abundant sunshine on the other side of the mountain!

Nancy L. Baskin Michlin, M.Ed., C.H.C.

2012-02-10 & 04-14 Goodbye Girls! v3

2012-06-15 Yes, They're Fake!

The Phoenix

I just bought this great Survivor necklace, Phoenix Heart. It is an absolutely perfect symbol for me. Last year I wrote about Lexi (my left breast) being The Phoenix. To recap, in May of 2012, because of a deadly infection, Lexi’s expander had to be removed. She temporarily became Level. I was left flat-chested and deformed on one side. On LUCKY Friday, July 13th, the Scarecrow Stuffing was burned; and Lexi, the Phoenix, rose from the ashes!!

Each in their own special way, Lexi and Rylee have both risen from the ashes. Seven times! In the wake, of what I hope to be, their very last surgery, The Phoenix Heart is a perfect gift for the girls, as they soar through the majestic sky, over the mountaintops, to new heights, and a breathtaking view!

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Buy a Phoenix Heart here.

Nancy L. Baskin Michlin, M.Ed., C.H.C.

Face Off!

After yesterday’s back-to-back-to-back-to-back doctors’ appointments, my fears have been put to rest….as much as possible without a crystal ball!  My anxieties for the up and coming surgery and I are having a stare down.  I will win the face off.  I am mighty.  I can do this, yet again.

See post Mirror, Mirror On The Wall for further detailing of my fears
https://nancymichlin.com/2013/08/07/mirror-mirror-on-the-wall/

Dr. Laidley, my breast surgeon, reassured me that cancer recurrence is not increased from the number of surgeries one endures.  Other doctors may disagree with her.  Heck, I may disagree with her.  I know surgeries stimulate cancer cells and decrease the immune system.  Not a good combination to have simultaneously.  I train for surgery to get my body in tip-top shape and combat that those effects as much as possible. But at least I know, in her very busy 20 year practice, she has not seen a rise in recurrence from increased surgeries. There is a lot to be said for empirical evidence.

Furthermore, now I also know, this next surgery is not just cosmetic.  Dr. Laidley pointed out that Rylee is too wild and free. She slips down the outer side of my torso too much when I lay down.  Without re-positioning her now, I would face issues down the road.  I am all for putting this behind me (or more appropriately stated, “firmly in front of me!”) sooner rather than later.

Dr. Hodges, my plastic surgeon,  reassured me that I will have the same full range of motion and mobility that I have right now.  I let him know that my priorities for the surgery are as follows:

1)    Mobility and Motion
2)    Symmetry between the girls
3)    Size

Dr. Hodges will literally and figuratively have his hands full in this surgery! He estimates 2.5 – 3 hours on the table for me.  Ugh.  Lots of work to be done: exchanging both implants, re-positioning each of the girls, anchoring them in place (double ugh!), prettying up their scars, extracting tissue for the nipples, creating an internal crease below the underside of Lexi; removing internal scar tissue, and transporting fat cells from the side of my thighs for cleavage. Recovery is going to be tedious.

I must say, in the past almost year since my last surgery, I have very much been enjoying having my life back!  It has been a thrill to easily get out of bed or off the couch, sleep on either side (not just on my back), breathe and laugh without discomfort, drive, walk, jog, lift weights, go to work, cook dinner, yada, yada, yada!  You know, living my life!  All the normal, simple, everyday actions we all take for granted. This too shall pass!

Surgery is set for Friday, September 6th at 8:00 am CST.

The countdown has begun. I am savoring the days before the surgery; engaged in winning the face off; exercising six days a week to hone my lean, mean, fighting machine; and looking forward to being on the Other Side of the surgery!

Nancy L. Baskin Michlin, M.Ed., C.H.C.

Roxy’s Farewell

A year ago today, we said goodbye to Roxy (my right breast).  She was a casualty of the Lola’s war (my left breast).  Roxy was a clean girl. She just hung out with the wrong crowd. She willingly gave up her life for my overall good health.  Rylee came in as her replacement.   So much has happen in a year.  I am forever grateful for all the blessings that have come to me since Roxy sacrificed herself.  I am a different person.  Nancy Version 2.0 – maybe not so new, but very much improved!  The courage to be a glowing force of positive energy and light!

Nancy L. Baskin Michlin, M.Ed., C.H.C.