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After a Bilateral Mastectomy, She’s More Creative than Ever

10 Feb

Margaret Dubay Mikus, a poet, photographer and all-round brainiac with a PhD in molecular genetics, discovered she carried a mutation in one of the “breast cancer genes” (BRCA2) when she had a new bout of breast cancer. After much deliberation, she decided to go for the option of bilateral mastectomy, plus removal of her ovaries and Fallopian tubes. Pretty extreme, you might think, but this is a recommended treatment with her medical history and this gene.

We wish we had the space to give you the full story of this gutsy, gifted, exuberant, heroic woman, but we don’t. You can, however, learn more about her and enjoy her marvelous poetry and photography on her website.    

And now, let her speak for herself.  Her own words can’t be beat. And if you decide to share her wonderful poem, don’t forget to include her name and copyright!  Here she is:

Dear Family and Dear Friends:

Time to break out the bubbles! Cancer treatment is over and I am healing phenomenally fast and well from the three surgeries. There are times I even forget I had all that done! Amazing! I have full range of motion and no significant pain. (I have not even taken Tylenol since the first week or so.) Almost all sensation has returned. Given the number of nerves that were severed, this is quite rare, I believe. I am sleeping well and deeply, taking naps as needed (except when I get too involved in doing things, which is my personal Achilles heel).

Every day I do my part to continue healing: massaging cream (calming essence, self-heal or arnica gel) into the skin and gently stretching the two eight-inch chest scars, which are much thinner and much less taut. I do energy work twice daily, including Reiki, acupressure and healing touch. I continue stress management. With my surgeon’s approval, I returned to yoga class a month ago…. at first very warily and gingerly, then adding more poses. The meditation and focus on breathing is particularly helpful.

One fun thing has been to get cotton tank tops in a rainbow of bright colors for undershirts. I am just as glad to get rid of bras, but needed something soft to prevent chafing and to feel feminine. Some are even trimmed with lace. 

I am becoming more and more comfortable as I am - not needing to wear scarves to disguise my flat chest. It’s OK. I feel fine with who I am in this skin. We’ll see what I feel like in the summer with more exposure. Yes, there have been tears and dark days. I continue working with my therapist and energy healer and massage therapist to support health in my body, mind, emotions and spirit. 

Whatever is coming will be easier than before. …Thank you so much for all the prayers, good thoughts, emails, cards, e-cards, flowers, gifts, love, encouragement, support, kindness and generosity. And now we begin again. Below is a recent poem, kind of a summing up, I think. 

Love, Margaret 

Stronger than You Think
 
Make something of what happens
not just a victim passively flattened.

Knocked down, get up
wind knocked out, re-inflate.

In the dark
the seed of light

a path to follow out.
Follow it.

Margaret Dubay Mikus
© 2013

From Thrown Again into the Frazzle Machine: Poems of Grace, Hope, and Healing

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Belleruth Naparstek

Psychotherapist, author and guided imagery pioneer Belleruth Naparstek is the creator of the popular Health Journeys guided imagery audio series. Her latest book on imagery and posttraumatic stress, Invisible Heroes: Survivors of Trauma and How They Heal (Bantam Dell), won the Spirituality & Health Top 50 Books Award