I see saggy breasts, imperfect breasts, and I want them. Saggy, squishy, droopy, uneven, unfirm, downward-pointing, or tiny ones lost in a t-shirt, vulgar ones bursting out of a plunging neckline — Yes please. All types of breasts make me jealous. All these generally considered negative descriptions of breast are complete bullshit. Having breasts is amazing. Having nipples is a luxury.

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Being diagnosed with cancer has meant I first lost weight, then lost my breasts, had “breasts” reconstructed and finally gained 15 pounds. To say I have a new body would be an understatement.

“The silver lining of breast cancer is you’ll end up with amazing breasts.” Of course, these well-intentioned comments are people just trying to be positive and offer support. People who don’t know what the f*#@ they’re talking about. Like I’m supposed to be happy with this apparent breast cancer booby prize. Perhaps these people would like to trade their non-cancer breasts with my post-cancer breasts? I want to shout back, “What kind of amazing breasts don’t have nipples? What kind of breasts have scars from one side to the other?! What kind of breasts make it hard to sleep more than a couple hours??” …

After almost a year of cancer treatment, I thought I had heard it all (and been through it all). But to my surprise, my cancer “education” led me to understand more about my excised tissue.

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Driver graciously let me see actual tumor blocks in their San Francisco lab.

I was working through the application for a clinical trial when the hospital’s Clinical Trial Coordinator said: “We need to have one of your tumor blocks in order to enroll you in the clinical trial.”

Tumor block? I’d never even heard of a tumor block, let alone knew I had one.

What I found out is something every new cancer survivor should know, because these little blocks could end up saving your life. …

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“Sylvia and the Goose” by koak

This week is my birthday. Birthdays always seem to be a time to reflect, to sharpen and solidify dreams. Add that to cancer and the fast approaching year end, and it’s a trifecta of self-reflection by overwhelming force.

The big picture — health is a gift.

This time last year I had no idea the year would include a cancer diagnosis, chemotherapy, and a double mastectomy. But the end of this week, I will have done it all.

Yup. I just said double mastectomy.

I know talking about cancer and mastectomy can be uncomfortable for some people. That’s why I wrote about the stigma of cancer in a recent post. But I believe that openly talking about it is an important step in breaking down this kind of stigma. …


Holly Furgason

Founder Blue Sparrow Pilates, San Francisco. Pilates writer & master trainer. Cancer surviver & activist.

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