Beauty of a Woman Blogfest: Do Breasts Define the Female?

boaw-2013August McLaughlin’s “Beauty of a Woman” Blogfest starts up today, with all of the posts listed together at August’s blog tomorrow. Last year, more than 40 people joined in and I’m proud to participate this year.

Note: Click here to see all the 2013 posts.

The poem by Sam Levenson that inspired August to start BOAW conveys the dignity, kindness and grace that comprise the wonderful mosaic of woman.

Here’s the beginning:

For attractive lips, speak words of kindness.
For lovely eyes, seek out the good in people.
For a slim figure, share your food with the hungry.

Good stuff, huh?

Today’s topic isn’t my usual. It’s not fluffy or fun…and there are no undies in sight.

I grew up with an oncology nurse, so cancer has always been a presence in my life, but this year it got a whole lot more personal.

Cancer burst into my inner circle, traveling on the breasts of three women – the sisters of my heart, my co-workers, my friends. Three women I know well have been diagnosed with and undergone treatment for breast cancer in the last eighteen months.

It’s been stunning and heartbreaking and surreal. And sobering as hell.

1 in 8 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in her lifetime.

I’ve found myself crying over the indignity of their chemo and the intensity of their pain, raging at their cancer and wishing I could choke this malevolent adversary to death myself.

I’ve watched these tumors steal their breasts, their fertility, their hair, their nipples.

Throughout their journey, the clear message is that this particular form of cancer attacks all the parts of their body that are uniquely feminine, at least in our society.

Truly, the breasts were just the tip of the issue.

What about their hair? For most women, hair is not just the protein-wrapped DNA strands that sit atop the head. Hair is beauty, nervous habit, fashion statement, status, self-esteem.

For one of my besties, her long blonde hair is such a part of her identity that she fought to keep it through eight rounds of chemo. She rented a cold cap and hired a consultant to help her manage it. In the end, she won the battle and kept her hair.

Another friend, a gorgeous black woman, wore wigs after her hair fell out, even though the pins that secured them permanently scarred her head. She refused to wear her scarves to work because they made her feel naked.

Hair wasn’t just hair to these women, at least not when they began their cancer journey.

For beautiful hair, let a child run his or her fingers through it once a day.
For poise, walk with the knowledge you’ll never walk alone.

What about the other pieces of self-esteem they hold dear? Their nails? Their weight? Their ability to have more children?

What about their breasts??

3% of American women have breast implants. I live in Southern California, where I’m sure that number is much higher.

Obviously in our society, the breast is perceived as an essential ingredient of female identity.

My gal-pal with the wigs has been waiting eight months for reconstructive surgery that will give her back some nipples. Yes, they’ll be tattoos, but – as she puts it – “It’s bizarre for a woman to be missing her headlights.”

She’s got a point.

These last eighteen months have made me ponder what pieces of the female mosaic define beauty.

Do breasts make the woman? I no longer think so.

Here’s what I’ve seen this year that gives me tear-gulping moments of pride and reverence, and appreciation in the sheer femaleness of my friends’ beauty:

The warmth of their friendship with other women.

The love and grace that I see between women friends is a rare and powerful form of beauty. They keep both their children and each other’s secrets, tucked safely inside their hearts.

As the child of a single mother, I was formed from a collection of mothers who shared one heart and many brains. These gals might have had dreadful taste in men, but they were loaded with brains and laughter. When I think of beauty, I think of that rolling orchestra of joy and playfulness that existed between my mother and her circle of friends.

Their life wisdom and grace.

As I mentioned above, one of my friends is at the beginning of her journey but the others are, thankfully, at the end of their process. They’re past the mastectomies and chemotherapy, and moving through the pain of breast reconstruction.

The two who just came through that fight-to-the-death aren’t grieving over their pain and suffering.

They’re grateful to be alive and able to hold their loved ones close. They’ve both humbled me by counting the blessings and lessons they learned from cancer, rather than mourning the breast(s) they lost.

The beauty of a woman is not in the clothes she wears, the figure that she carries, or the way she combs her hair.

The beauty of a woman must be seen from in her eyes, because that is the doorway to her heart, the place where love resides.

 The beauty of a woman is in the strength of her soul.

What defines beauty for you? Has breast cancer touched your life? In what way? What lessons did you take away from the experience?

Wishing you a week filled with beauty and grace…
Jenny

About Jenny Hansen

Avid seeker of "more"...More words, more creativity, More Cowbell! An extrovert who's terribly fond of silliness. Founding blogger at Writers In The Storm (http://writersinthestormblog.com). Write on!
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99 Responses to Beauty of a Woman Blogfest: Do Breasts Define the Female?

  1. LauraDrake says:

    Damned straight, Jenny. Loved this post. I once saw an image of an old woman (80+) who, when she lost her breast to cancer, didn’t have reconstructive surgery – she had a beautiful, swirling tattoo done over the area. It was gorgeous, brave, and makes me cry every time I see it.

    Women are such strong, resilient humans.

    Like

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  3. Great post, Jenny. I have a mother, a sister-in-law and a dear friend who have dealt with breast cancer, and two sisters who have had lumpectomies.

    As I age, I become more convinced that inner beauty trumps outer beauty. It lasts longer, it provides far more interests, and thus a far more interesting person.

    Like

  4. My grandmother had breast cancer. I mention it briefly in the post I wrote for August. I know breasts aren’t about beauty for me. Even after my grandmother had both of hers lopped off to cancer, she was still the most beautiful person I have ever known. And I used to look at her long scar and wish I had one just like hers. Weird, huh? Maybe. But true. She was that beautiful to me. Great post, Jenny.

    Like

  5. Powerful post, Jenny.

    During my days of dating, I never ever put any stock in a woman’s chest size. Small, medium, large…didn’t matter to me because breasts certainly don’t define a woman. And, IMHO, if a man thinks that they do, then women should avoid that guy like the plague. For those of us lucky enough to reach old age, we all get a little heavier, a little grayer (or balder), and a little more wrinkled. On women, breasts will sag. And on men, well, the engine won’t have as much horse power as it used to IYKWIM (to borrow that from you). So when we’re old and saggy, you better have a much deeper relationship than ogling at your wife’s boobs. I have that with my wife and I am certain I will love her even more 30 years from now than I do today. Godspeed to those women fighting breast cancer.

    Like

  6. Cancer runs in my family. It’s claimed grandparents, uncles, aunts, cousins. One of my Ya-Yas is currently in battle with rectal cancer. A dear friend lost her breasts but saved her life. She went through reconstruction and loves her new breasts more than her old ones – they’re perkier and they’re bigger, you see.🙂

    Breast cancer claimed my maternal grandmother when my mom was just 13. I never met Hattie, and yet her untimely death hurts my heart in a fierce way because I didn’t get to meet her. She died at home, in a hospital bed in the front room, tended by her mother – my great-grandmother. Cancer stole her breasts before it stole her life, and my mom still remembers how much that bothered her. She felt less than after that, a perspective exacerbated by her inability to care for her children, her husband, her home, and even herself.

    I sometimes talk to Hattie, in a prayerful sort of way. I tell her how much I admire her strength, how much she still means to her remaining children, how much she is missed. If I could meet her in real life, face to face, I would tell her that her breasts don’t really matter. They didn’t and don’t matter to her children or her parents, and they don’t matter to me. Her whole, that combination of her heart and soul and mind, is what matters even now, 62 years later, always and forever.
    Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to go have a good cry.

    Like

  7. zkullis says:

    Jenny, this is a beautifully written and powerful post. More of my immediate family has died from cancer than from natural causes. Cancer is a bastardly scourge.

    I’ve had various testicular surgeries and run a high risk of getting testicular cancer. But, I know that does not compare to the price a woman pays when she has to have her breasts removed. I’ve known a few, and it seemed like their identity and self image was taken in the process.

    No price is too great in the search for a cure. In the mean time, my siblings and I go to every walk, every fund raiser, and every cancer awareness event we bump in to. My heart goes out to those who have lost loved ones, who are in the middle of the battle, and to those women that have had to struggle with losing such an integral part of their identity.

    Touching and sobering post, Jenny. Thank you.

    Like

    • Jenny Hansen says:

      “A bastardly scourge” indeed, Zack. I’m so glad that you and your family walk. We’re exactly on the statistical trend at my job in terms of the number of women diagnosed and I’m organizing a walk right now.

      There’s so little we can actually do…that’s the part that frustrates me most of all. Your comment got me all amped up to keep fighting, so thanks.🙂

      Like

      • zkullis says:

        Jenny, as I read the other posts, and read my post again, I wanted to clarify one thing. I hope my reply didn’t sound like I thought that a woman’s breasts were an integral part of their identity. This was my observation of the struggle a few women I knew were having with their mastectomies.

        I don’t think a women is defined by her body, much like a present is not defined by its wrapping. I have had intimate and meaningful relationships with women of varying body-types, skin colors, and ethnic backgrounds.

        The beauty of a woman is as complex as it is wonderful, and can’t be packaged into something as mundane and shallow as her breast size or dress size. Feminine mystique, compassion, beauty, strength of spirit and role as daughter/sister/mother are what make a woman beautiful.

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        • Jenny Hansen says:

          I never gave a thought to anything but how beautiful your original comment is, Zack. But I particularly like this line in your new comment: “I don’t think a women is defined by her body, much like a present is not defined by its wrapping.”🙂

          Like

  8. Misty Dietz says:

    This post – AND THESE AWESOME COMMENTS – totally make me choke up. Powerful post and truly a source of inspiration.

    Like

  9. Phil says:

    Very powerful post and a must-read. My fiancee’ is always worried as breast cancer runs in her family. Breast cancer, and cancer of any kind, is a scary thing to deal with. It’s life altering in so many ways.

    Like

    • Jenny Hansen says:

      Phil, have your fiancee ask her GYN about the HALO test. It usually costs about $90 but it can be run in the office if the doctor has the machine. It’s looking for cells down in the female milk glands and ducts that are cancerous.

      This is done in addiiton to her mammogram.

      The thing about the HALO that really hit home with me: the cells down in the milk ducts and glands will sometimes BECOME cancer…in 5-10 years. That means that the HALO gives her the chance to address cancerous cells, rather than wait for cancerous tumors.

      Like

  10. Beautiful, Jenny. Just beautiful. My best friend’s mom died of breast cancer. She wasn’t diagnosed soon enough. My grandmother had uterine cancer and a hysterectomy, along with chemo and radiation. It was so difficult to watch a woman who’d always been so strong wither physically. But she kept her inner beauty, showing love and compassion and courage throughout, and in the end, she beat it.

    Like

    • Jenny Hansen says:

      Oh, Marcy…I’m SO glad she beat it! That makes me happy. The treatment used to be so much worse than it is today. That’s just a huge deal.

      If you read my comment above to Phil, you’ll see that there are some newer and earlier tests that can be done nowadays if you ask for them. My heart goes out to your friend.

      Like

  11. Dawn says:

    Last year I, too, had two friends who battled breast cancer. One of them began a blog about her journey and continues to write about life. Her sense of humor, combined with her honesty, inspire and amaze me. I’m including a link because I just think she is THAT good, and as she says, if she can touch just one life from her writings, well, then she has accomplished more than she ever before imagined. Great post, Jenny!
    http://iwantbacksies.blogspot.com/?spref=fb

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    • Jenny Hansen says:

      Dawn, your pal IS that good.🙂 I just went over there and was on post #4 before I caught myself and reined in to get back to my very long to-do list. I’ll be she does tons of good with that blog.

      Like

  12. Sharla Rae says:

    Unusual blog that touched me.🙂 Knocking on wood but the women in my family have escaped breast cancer. My son is fighting lymphoma though so I know a lot about courage and everyday I see it at MD Anderson in Houston.

    It’s a funny thing about hair. It’s always been my thing because it’s the one thing I “like” about myself. Ha! But after seeing so many bald women there in Houston, I can say this poem is right on. With pale skin, almost bloodless lips, and no hair, women’s eyes are a huge highlight of glowing sparkle, laughter and love. It’s incredible how beautiful they are. As for the breasts, most women are just so glad to be alive, and I think they realize they aren’t defined by them.

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    • Jenny Hansen says:

      Thanks, Charla. I know you’re seeing the full complement of cancer patients at M.D. Anderson. I grew up in the wards, with tons of women in beautiful scarves playing with my hair. I had no idea they didn’t have hair – I just thought they were so darn pretty.🙂

      Like

  13. Sue says:

    Very powerful – thank you! My family and friends have so far escaped breast cancer, but one of my best friends has it in her family. She lost her mom when she was 16, and two aunts I think. I love her dearly, and can’t imagine my life without her. Thankfully she gets checked every year.

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    • Jenny Hansen says:

      Sue, I’m so glad she gets checked, and hopefully you do too. It’s not very fun to do the “garage door” test (as we call the mammogram – due to the slam and squish) but I sure feel better every time I get the results back.🙂

      Like

  14. tomwisk says:

    Hi Jenny, My mother had breast cancer back in the early sixties. She sought and received the best treatment that our family and insurance could afford. She had a radical mastectomy, endured bouts of chemo and radiation treatments. The skin on her back was tanned and leathery as if she spent her life under the noon sun. All of that came with a price. She commuted from our home in Connecticut to Boston weekly. She was New England Deaconess Hospital Monday through Friday. The trips to the airport to pick her up Friday night were anticipation. The trips to the airport on Sunday night were the pits of depression. This went on for a year. They let her come home. They were done with her, She died of cancer on Father’s Day in 1961. That was the day I gave up on the idea that god blesses the good and ever bothering him again. god isn’t a woman. She wouldn’t have let that happen..

    Like

    • Jenny Hansen says:

      Oh Tom…you broke my heart with your story. I’m so sorry you lost your mom, and that you went through that. It had to be frightening for you. I’m sure that all of you kids were what kept her going on those Monday-Friday jags in Boston.

      I hope your memories of your mom are plentiful and full of joy.🙂

      Like

  15. I think what makes women beautiful is having life carve lines into their faces and their hearts. Life happens. If we’re going to live it, why not show it? I have not been close to breast cancer, but cancer has definitely hit our family. It is eye opening and sobering and all the things you mention. It is a very particularly refiners fire that is for sure. Wonderful post!

    Like

    • Jenny Hansen says:

      Thanks, Pauline! I’m just starting to really see life’s lines on my face and I can’t claim to love them. However, I’ve certainly EARNED them, which makes me proud. I’ve decided we love the lines on *other people’s* faces.🙂

      Like

      • It’s a shock when the first lines come, because inside you don’t feel different. I actually blogged about this, because I was like, wow, how I can feel the same inside and be so beat up on the outside. LOL! But then I remember my grandmothers and their faces were beautiful to me, even if they weren’t thrilled about them either. Life had carved kindness and love into their faces. Life is a craftsman, too, I believe. We may not be able to appreciate the work right away, but our children and our grandchildren will.🙂

        Like

  16. K.B. Owen says:

    Oh, Jenny, how heart-wrenching. I haven’t had anyone close to me deal with breast cancer, but I’ve certainly had unhappy experiences with losing loved ones to lung cancer – two of them, my grandfather and my aunt. Cancer is a horrid robber, taking everything it can get as you struggle to wrest your life back out of its grasp.

    This was beautiful, my dear. Thank you for writing and sharing it.

    Like

    • Jenny Hansen says:

      You are welcome. I hope you have wonderful memories of your grandfather and aunt stored up inside your heart. It’s nice to take those memories out sometimes and visit with them.🙂

      Like

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  18. Well my flippant comment to your question, “Do breasts make the woman?” would be – God I hope not, because I am soooooo not well-endowed.

    But the serious side of me says – HELL NO!!

    When I had my hysterectomy a long time ago I was heart sick for a very long time, because I believed that the womb is what “made the woman.” But now that my womb has been taken away, I answer the question, “Does the womb make the woman” with – HELL NO!! I am very much a woman even without my uterus.

    Cancer has taken the most important person in my life – my mom. I wish every day that I could have her back. She lost one breast to breast cancer but never lost her beautiful spirit or female essence. (Colon cancer ultimately claimed her life.)

    She decided not to have reconstructive surgery, deciding instead for the special bras. She never wore a wig, because they made her head itch, but she always wore a hat. People used to bring her hats and when she died she had dozens and dozens of hats in her closet. They were a true testament to the kind of special women in her life who knew just what she wanted and needed in her time of need.

    Thanks for this beautiful post. My prayers go out to your friends for continued healing.

    Patricia Rickrode
    w/a Jansen Schmidt

    Like

    • Jenny Hansen says:

      I’ll take your “HELL NO!” and raise you one, Patricia.🙂

      A pair of breasts or a powerful uterus…it makes no difference to the nitty-gritty essence of woman. That would be like saying a man wasn’t a man because he was forced to remove a testicle. I’m glad you know it.

      I think all of you “less-endowed” gals are gonna be the big winners in your golden years. Your breasts won’t lay on your belly like a pancake like all your large-breasted cronies’ will. LOL…

      Like

  19. Jess Witkins says:

    Beautiful and heartfelt blog, Jenny. A coworker’s daughter underwent chemo for breast cancer and it was very difficult for her, living 5 hours away. Her daughter lost her job, unable to work, lost her hair, and even some friends, which I think is the saddest of all. She’s come out of it much stronger and had amazing opportunities since. Like you said, breasts don’t make the woman, her strength creates her. I’m glad your friends all had you and your support through the whole journey!

    Happy Beauty of a Woman blog hop!

    Like

    • Jenny Hansen says:

      Oh man, as a mom I can only imagine how hard that was on the mother AND the daughter. My mama had passed on by the time I came up with pulmonary emboli but I used to thank God she missed it. As a nurse, it would have scared the bejeezus out of her. I’m so glad your friend’s daughter made it through!

      Like

  20. I know you said that you had a few friends that were battling breast cancer Jenny. What a great tribute you wrote to not just them, but to all women. How important are breasts? Well, I just moved here from Scottsdale, Az. And I would have to say that city is a close second in breast implants to SoCal. Parents gift their daughters implants when they turn sixteen over there. Now I ask you, what kind of message are those parents sending to their daughters? That their own breasts aren’t good enough? That their bodies aren’t beautiful enough? I, on the other hand, am not well endowed. As I like to say, they never get in the way. So our beauty really comes from within. And if we embrace our unique beauty, it will show on the outside. It’s what invites others to us. We can’t hide it. So why not wear it like a neon sign!

    Like

    • Jenny Hansen says:

      I HATE this “sweet 16 boob job” mentality. It exists in Newport Beach too, and it’s appalling. A truly dreadful message to send to girls who are struggling with body image.

      The gals who are “more lightly endowed” have the last laugh, you know. When the busty babes have belly blankets, they still have some semblance of perky. Having seen you, the only word to describe you is “luminous.”🙂

      Like

  21. Boy, oh boy, did this one hit home…oddly a familiar theme, which I thought might be the case. Absolutely beautiful and feisty; I enjoyed it very much.

    Like

  22. I think having life is the most beautiful thing. If a woman can survive this, her soul will definitely be even stronger and more beautiful!

    Like

  23. Lena Corazon says:

    This is a beautiful post, Jenny, and so touching. It’s strange–I never really gave breasts much of a thought until I had a reduction when I was 20. The thought of dropping from a DDD to a C cup was terrifying, even though I had been waiting for the surgery for 4 years. What if they were *too* small? Would I feel like less of a woman? It wasn’t a reaction that I expected to have, and it brought into sharp relief the emphasis that our culture places on breasts as a symbol of what it means to be a woman.

    One of my undergrad advisors was diagnosed with breast cancer in my senior year, and she was such an inspiration to me. She shaved her head into a mohawk until she lost it all from her chemo treatments, and then once that happened she had all of us sign her head with permanent markers. She and her wife separated in the midst of things–stress from her illness, among other things–but she never lost her cheerfulness or her resilience. Strength, courage, and love–these are the things that form a woman’s beauty.

    Thank you for sharing these stories with us!

    Like

    • Jenny Hansen says:

      Oh my goodness, you LUCKY girl. I’ve known so many women — including my own mother — that suffered for years with breasts that were simply too large for comfort. I’m so glad you got to go down to a more manageable size!

      I would adore your advisor…I can totally tell. What did you write on her head??

      Like

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  25. Julie Glover says:

    I teared up reading this post, Jenny. I lost a best friend to breast cancer five years ago, and she was so beautiful…before and after the cancer. She ended up bald, breastless, and sporting a permanent port in her shoulder where her chemo regularly went. She was still beautiful and feminine to the core.

    Breast cancer has also impacted others in my life–my grandmother (died of metastatic breast cancer in her 80s), my mother (a survivor, thank God), a friend from college (a survivor), a former co-teacher at church camp (died last year), and a couple of other friends (survivors). All beautiful women. Thank you for honoring those in your life and the women I know by sharing their beauty.

    (Okay, now I’m flat out crying. *sigh*)

    Like

    • Jenny Hansen says:

      Ah, Julie…now you’ve got me going. I’m so sorry you lost your friend. I still live in fear that I’ll lose mine. Still, seeing their joy in embracing TODAY has changed my life for the better.

      Like

  26. A dear friend went through breast cancer. Yes, I think it truly impacts our lives. As women, we fear it. We fear the loss of our breasts and hair and the indignity of chemotherapy. I had a cancer scare a few years ago. The doctors thought I had ovarian cancer. As a chemically sensitive person I underwent the surgery (stage four endometriosis and some small tumors in the uterus), I vowed not to undergo the therapy if the cancer was found. As bad as chemotherapy is, I knew it would be harder for me not being able to tolerate a laundry list of medications and other chemicals.

    Breasts may define a woman’s body, but they are not the woman.

    Like

    • Jenny Hansen says:

      Thanks for this thought-provoking comment, Kathryn! I have another pal who just went through lymph node removal for melanoma and she has the same issues with narcotics – she simply cannot take them. I’ve never seen anything so difficult in my life. I’m so glad you didn’t have to pump up with chemicals.

      Like

  27. Oh, Jenny, you’ve said it all. Women are so much more than their breasts, why does it take going through stuff like this to drive the lesson home?

    Like

    • Jenny Hansen says:

      I truly don’t know, Jessica. I think it’s hard for most women to stop, look in the mirror, and see the joy and strength, rather than the flaws. Today is a reminder to work on that…

      Like

  28. I’ve got enough chauvanist in me that a lovely pair of boobs always gets my attention, but I’ve also attained enough maturity to realize that they aren’t the essence of the woman. I’m loving reading all these posts about the things that really do define a woman. Thanks, Jenny.

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  29. You are such a beautiful woman, Jenny. Inside, outside, around the curves, and over the speed bumps, you’re freaking gorgeous. We are so very much more than our hair, our breasts, our vaginas, but sometimes it’s hard to see that when we’re threatened with losing them. Your friends are blessed to have you in their lives (and thank god I consider myself one of them!). I’ll bet you brought a sense of levity to their trials, and more than one bought of laughter as well. Keep being as remarkable as you are, your beauty shines like a star across the universe.

    Like

    • Jenny Hansen says:

      *getting all blushy and misty*
      Thanks, Tameri. I’m riding such an emotional wave today, reading all these posts. The love around the blogosphere today is A-Maze-Balls! You’ve bowled me over with this comment, friend…I’ll be hugging it to me all day long.🙂

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  45. Wow Jenny. I am floored. Thank you for this incredibly touching post. What a way to put beauty in perspective. Bravo!

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  47. Thanks for this touching post, Jenny! I love what you said here: “The love and grace that I see between women friends is a rare and powerful form of beauty.” It’s taken me a long time to forge female friendships, for all sorts of reasons. Since stepping into writer-hood, I’ve connected with some of the most beautiful souls, without an ounce of cattiness, criticism or competitiveness. Thank you for being one of them. Breasts certainly don’t define us—more so, our hearts, minds, journeys and friendships do.❤

    Like

    • Here, Here! It’s not always easy to build friendships with women, but it’s so worthwhile when we work through any of those issues to get to the good stuff. I think we women can assume things about one another, and until we come to trust and understand what the true intentions for friendship are, things can be rocky. I think we reap what we sow, particularly where bonds with other women are concerned. Once others understand the intent, and accept the fact that we’re genuine, I think things go much more smoothly. And I have found the same to be true of other writers. They’re a wonderfully generous bunch. Male & female, alike, and I couldn’t be more proud to join their ranks.

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    • Jenny Hansen says:

      I’m so sorry you’ve had to wait till later in your life to find those strong and true friendships, August. I think the writing community is such a blessing because they tend to care about what we have to say more than how we look while we’re saying it. It’s such a huge relief.🙂

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  49. emaginette says:

    Cancer is cruel and it is hard to fight. Keeping a positive body image can be harder. In both cases not giving up is the key. True beauty lies in our soul.–just saying.

    Is a woman a woman without breasts. Yes, because there is so much more to it than our body parts.

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  50. Hi Jenny,
    Thanks for a great blog post. This week many people were celebrating Audre Lorde’s b-day, a writer who in the 1980s wrote about breast cancer openly and challenged ideas about what breasts should or need to look like after breast cancer (in A Burst of Light and The Cancer Journals). Society has typically objectified women’s bodies and excessively focused on breasts. Part of every women’s power to reclaim what makes her beautiful from the inside and out.

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  51. What a moving and insightful post. I loved your closing thought–The beauty of a woman is in the strength of her soul. Another amazing BOAW Blog post.🙂 I’m making my way down the list.🙂

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  52. Dear Jenny, what a beautiful post on beauty – it’s as simple as that. You know I’m all about friendship and I couldn’t agree more that sharing these experience with your girlfriends strengthens and defines your friendships. I’m sorry your friends are battling this pervasive disease and wish them well. It’s not an easy journey. Your situation sounded like a repeat of mine a few years ago when three dear friends were diagnosed within six weeks of each other. It was crazy … like the spread of the plague! Then one of our daughters was fighting the fight and ended up with a double mastectomy. Her strength and courage were inspirational and today she is a healthy, happy, beautiful woman. I know by now you have seen my post about the woman who had the most amazing tattoo created to cover her mastectomy scars. I thought that was brilliant and brave and oh so beautiful! So is your post and the obvious friendship you offer.
    http://patriciasands.wordpress.com/2013/02/20/beautiful-and-brave-tattoo-follow-up/

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  53. Jenny: This was touching and beautiful. My aunt had a double mastectomy several years ago. Honestly, it never crossed my mind that if a woman does not have breasts she is no less beautiful. On the surface, the statement itself seems ludicrous. However, I have not personally experienced breast cancer, or the loss of my breasts so I can’t say how I would feel. Less feminine? Not whole? I do know this – breast cancer is real, and I won’t deny that fear does dwell inside me…I wrote about my first and only breast screening last year and my aunt’s battle with breast cancer: http://clearlykristal.com/?p=1343. As always, thanks for keepin’ it real.🙂

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  54. Pingback: Akweke! A poem for every woman who waited and for those who wait still…. | Whole Woman Network

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