Appreciating Life's Miracles After Breast Cancer

by Kelly Knee
Melanie Courage

As I hold the newest addition to my family, I am bursting with love and contentment. I know I can do at least one thing right. I can make some pretty amazing children! Despite the challenges, I feel that I have been rewarded.

Cancer has given me the greatest miracle there is, a perfect, healthy, handsome baby boy. I won’t make it seem like it has been easy since having my fifth child. It has been trying, but every second has been worth it. I may lose my cool the same as the next mother, but it doesn’t mean I love my kids any less. It just means I’m human — a not-so-perfect human.

I have had two years to accept this mutilated body. I’m not saying I am bursting with joy about my new image, but it surely wins against the alternative of dying. There are people who wonder what it looks like to have a mastectomy, and there are people who think it’s disgusting and never want to see it. I remember having a discussion with someone who said something along the lines of “That’s gross! I would never want to see it.” I thought to myself, Well, that’s OK. They can’t help the way they feel.

Melanie Courage

Then I thought about it for a while and said, “I am deeply offended. This is my body we are talking about, and if you think my mastectomy is ‘gross,’ then you are saying I am gross, and that hurts my feelings deeply!”

I think that in that moment of defending myself, I realized I have nothing to be ashamed of. I had cancer, my breast tried to kill me, and now my other breast is feeding and aiding in the life of another human being.

I have a love-hate relationship with my breasts. I hate that they tried to kill me, but I love that I am able to feed my baby. My children don’t care that I only have one breast. They don’t care about the way I look, and they don’t care that my chest has scars. What they do care about is the fact that I am alive, that I am able to provide food for them, and that they are deeply loved by so many.

I have used both formula and breast to feed my children, and there is something good to be said about both. I feel a very strong connection with my newest little one while breastfeeding. I may have felt unwanted before, but now I am needed more than ever, and that brings me great comfort.

There are people who are unaware that someone who had breast cancer and a single mastectomy is able to breastfeed. Life is a miraculous thing, and we are capable of so much as humans if we put our minds to it. I am not an outcast because I had cancer. I am still a fully functional human with many possibilities ahead, and I plan to push myself each and every day.

So when you see someone who looks different, think twice before you say anything out loud. Think about the struggles that person may have faced and is probably still facing. Try thinking about the positive outcomes instead of focusing on the negative ones.

We all have feelings — some more sensitive than others. We should just share the love.

Share the love, people!