Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Mastectomy April 23,2012. One year ago today.

 So apparently Josh and I were posting on the blog at the same time today and didn't know it, so we just combined our two posts into one.


As I sit here today thinking about what we were doing this time last year I am in some sort of awe at time passing.

I just went and read the first blog post from this day last year and it is surreal to mentally go back there. I described the room we went in and then Dr. Babiera coming in and talking to us after her part of the surgery. 

This morning I woke up next to my beautiful wife's alarm going off. She left for work and school and I did the same. Even being the ones that went through it doesn't make it any less crazy. 12 months ago how different life looked. It was easy to concentrate on what mattered because it was in front of my face. 

Today at Chick-fil-A where I ate lunch all is normal. I sat there thinking if this is what is going through my brain right now I wonder what is going through some of these other people's brains. 

We are beyond blessed to be where we are in this moment but to think what has happened in the last 12 months since the Mastectomy is a bit overwhelming. Including the mastectomy Aly has had 4 Major surgeries that have drastically influenced our life and her well being. 

Today Aly wore a blue and white-ish dress and looked amazing. Needless to say as she left the house this morning I could not stop thinking how blessed we are that instead of being in a hospital bed this evening she will will come home and we will be in our bed in West Monroe, LA. 

We have a front row seat to God working on our behalf in Aly's body. 

Just for reminders- this is Aly right after her mastectomy. We could not cool her down. They wouldn't give her water and she was not feeling good. No fun this day.

This is one of my favorite pictures. She was sleeping so hard the glasses just stayed almost where they were. For weeks she had to sleep sitting up. 

Very quickly the smiling Aly was back, drains and all.

Today I also know there is a man in Houston, TX that is in the exact same spot I was last year. His wife or daughter is in surgery and he is just waiting. I don't know if I believed life would go on. Today though at about 6:30am Aly woke up and began what most people would consider a normal day. Life has gone on. We don't look, act, think or feel the same but daily we are trusting that God will fulfill his promise to us.

I continue to realize I am incredibly blessed to have Aly as my wife. I would sign up 100 times over with full knowledge of what we have been through. Aly's dogged determination which shows up in a daily walk with Christ that continues to push me to get closer to Christ has been much of the push that has enabled this version of the Taylor's to be where we are today.


I remember a particular beach trip when I was probably in about 7th grade and I thought my sister was gorgeous ( and I still do). I remember seeing her in her swimsuit and how she filled out the top perfectly. Me, on the other hand was as skinny as a rail and flat as a board. I remember praying, literally praying to God that I would have a chest like my sister. I remember my friend, Erin and I, getting training bras from Limited Too around this same time. I had NO business getting a training bra, but all my friends needed them and I wanted to feel older too. To me, it was a huge part of what made a woman beautiful, at that time.

It took me longer to develop than most girls my age. I always thought I was flat chested and saw myself as that. It was as if one day when I was in the 10th grade, I immediately had breasts! I didn't feel like the skinny, flat chested girl, but was starting to feel like a woman. I finally filled out bras, swimsuits, and shirts looked better on me. My body began to change and I definitely was not that 7th grade girl anymore. I remember my family asking me if I had taken Bloussant (remember those advertisements for breast enhancement?! ha ha) because it was as if I developed overnight. It definitely boosted my confidence- not only that I had breasts, but overall didn't feel like a little girl anymore. I knew even then that God saw me as a beautiful woman even before I "developed" but I definitely felt more beautiful with my new body.

So, fast forward to October 17th, 2011. I had been married for 5 years to Josh and we learn I have breast cancer. On October 18th, our doctor in town says that he would recommend a double mastectomy as quickly as possible. Those breasts that I had prayed for could be taken away. What I saw as beautiful when I was a little girl could be stripped away from me. I desired to me a wife that is talked about in Proverbs 5:18-20, and I felt that I could no longer be that.

Proverbs 5:18-20 
"May your fountain be blessed, and may you rejoice in the wife of your youth.A loving doe, a graceful deer—may her breasts satisfy you always, may you ever be intoxicated with her love."

What transpired in the next several months was nothing short of God, my father, carrying me and reminding me how beautiful and precious I was. I remember sitting at MD Anderson and Josh and I talking about the possibility of having a mastectomy. Josh did not waver once about me having it done. I remember us both crying and him telling me, "I think I will be even more attracted to you. Every time we look at you, it will just be a reminder of what the devil tried to do and how God healed you." This was the beginning of me seeing beauty in a different light.

I spoke to the West Ridge Middle School FCS this past week, and I spoke a little on beauty and how God has shown me what true beauty is. It is not what I saw in my sister when I was in 7th grade, although she was and is beautiful. It is a pure and clean heart, with a gentle and quiet spirit. Sadly, it wasn't until I was forced to not have hair and the breasts that might "define" my womanhood ripped away that I learned what true beauty was.

 "Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear— but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God's sight is very precious." 1 Peter 3:3-4

I have so many scars on my body. My 15 drain scars, my big lat flap scars on my back , my port scar, and many scars on my chest. I am reminded every day when I look in the mirror of where my true beauty comes from. I see where God sewed me back together and used what Satan tried to harm me with and turned it for His and my good. Not many people can look in the mirror every morning and tangibly see how God has saved them from death. For that, I am grateful. I am grateful that my heavenly Father finds me beautiful. I am grateful that my husband finds me beautiful. I am grateful that I can look at my scarred, broken, and imperfect self and know I am more beautiful than I ever was.

1 Sam 16:7 "But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.”

Today, I remember how God supernaturally protected me from fear before and during my mastectomy surgery. I remember Josh and I not sleeping the night before. I was nervous, but not scared. I remember the plethora of texts, emails, blog comments, pictures I received the day of my surgery. I remember my family members and amazing friends that came to Houston for my surgery. I remember waking up feeling on fire and Josh putting ice rags all over me. I remember my mouth being so dry and Ainsley putting chap stick on me. I remember seeing a group of my friends and family once I was moved to my own room. I was so nauseous and wanted to thank everyone for coming, but just felt horrible. Needing help to do anything--drinking water, walking to the bathroom, getting my toilet paper, emptying my drains... It is a humbling experience to not be able to do anything for yourself.

I then remember coming home the next day--WOW God!!! I remember feeling a little better slowly. I remember really weird things, like my tank tops kept falling off my shoulders, because nothing was there to hold them up- weird stuff like that that I didn't even expect to happen. But most of all, I remember being thankful to have had no complications, and I knew we would soon get amazing results from the tissue taken from my surgery. I so longed for the day to deemed "cancer-free."

So, I will always remember April 23, 2012, as it was a day that I was face to face with what defines beauty. One year later, I am thankful for this terrible surgery. I am healed and it took this surgery for doctors and everyone else to have evidence of it...Another milestone reached, another day remembered, another challenge to take on. I am altogether beautiful.

"You are altogether beautiful, my love; there is no flaw in you." Song of Solomon 4:7

Some pictures from my mastectomy surgery, 1 year ago, below...

About to have my mastectomy surgery

Getting set up for the mastectomy

When I was finally brought back to my room. So nauseous...

This was the first time I looked in the mirror. My straps kept falling down. 
I also had to wear the tights on my legs to prevent clotting.


Nell said...

You two have forever touched my life and the lives of many others. I feel honored to know you and that you have shared your awesome story with me along with others. To feel the love you share with each other and with God almighty is indescribable. I wish I had the words to thank you in the deep way I mean it. I am thanking God with you for how you have touched me and all the others. I love you very very much and will continue to pray for God to always get the glory for this wonderful "ministry" you have to us all. Nell

Erica said...

So powerful! You are definitely a reflection of God's beauty, Aly. No doubt. You are such an inspiration. We pray for you nightly. My husband and baby don't know you personally, but we are prayer warriors with you!!