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October 11, 2019

Breast Cancer, I Love You.

When you came into my life, all I could think about was you.

You consumed my every thought. I couldn’t sleep; I couldn’t eat.

Every conversation revolved around you.

You took me on a wild ride. On our highs, I felt more love than I had ever experienced. On our lows, I felt I just might die.

I’ve never felt more alive than when I was with you. But sometimes at night, when no one could hear, I would cry myself to sleep.

I thought, if I could just love you with all my heart, maybe, just maybe, you would love me too.

My family hated you. My friends hated you. I didn’t know a person who liked you. The words “hate,” “f*ck,” and “suck” were spat when your name was mentioned.

You pushed people out of my life who didn’t understand our relationship. People who couldn’t handle their pain when they saw us together.

I stood up for us when people would say that one day you will kill me.

You robbed me of my innocence, my simple, care-free life. Those days are over for me.

You forced me to go deep into wounds I wanted to hide in a box for the rest of my life, pushing them down every time they tried to surface.

I felt like my life had been thrown up in the air, and I was scrambling around on the ground, picking up all the pieces, putting them back into place, like the obsessive little perfectionist that I am.

I questioned everything about myself.

I still loved you.

People couldn’t understand when I said I loved you.

My therapist had me write goodbye letters to you. I wrote letters to myself, with phrases like, “You are enough.”

Then you took my breasts. My ability to feed a child. My womanhood. My self-esteem.

I hated the naked image reflecting back at me in the mirror. I would hold my hand over the missing nipple and think, if only this was different, then I’d be beautiful. Maybe I’ll get a tattoo to cover it. To hide my scars, so I don’t have to think about you every day. Then I’ll love myself.

Enough’s enough. I really should’ve hated you.

I still loved you.

I sought out healers from around the world. Teach me to live, teach me to love, teach me to heal. Please. I surrender. I am ready.

You are my greatest teacher.

Your destructive wrath, that seems to be sweeping the nation, gave me perspective on life. What’s important. To live each day to the fullest, because tomorrow is promised to no one. To never take another day for granted.

You taught me how to be grateful for every breath, every smile, every sunset.

You showed me that self-love comes from something much deeper than an image in the mirror. Or validation from anyone standing on the sidelines. That my greatest relationship in life is with myself. That true love comes without conditions.

You gave me the courage to advocate for myself, to always speak my truth, even when my voice would shake.

You taught me that fear is the real enemy. That love will always be my answer.

Somehow, I laughed when I should’ve cried. I danced when I should’ve sulked. I smiled when I should’ve frowned. I lived when I should’ve died.

Hating you is easy. Loving you—that was the true test.

And I will forever be a student.

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author: Jessica Wajda

Image: @jessicawajda

Editor: Kelsey Michal