Coping with Clichés

Introducing Victorious Val

Breast cancer.  I find it hard to describe without using the standard clichés.  You know, the wild ride, the upside-down rollercoaster, the fight, the battle, the journey.  Ugh.  It screams loud and clear that we all experience the exact same feelings yet have the same difficult time articulating our thoughts into more meaningful words.  We cannot adequately express the mental anguish or find the right words to pinpoint the fear, anxiety, and yes, even the sheer joy and gratefulness of this cancer experience.

Like you–to borrow a few more clichés – it turned my world upside down and was a life-changer.  I remember it like it was yesterday.  It was October 31, 2011, unusually hot, even for Texas, and I was heading home after work.  My heart sunk when the phone rang because I was awaiting the news of my breast biopsy, and like so many of you, it was the afternoon that I heard those awful words, “You have breast cancer.”  It’s not the most original beginning, I know.  Another cliché.  I mean, after all, over 200,000 of us – both women and men – heard those same words that year. Like them, my diagnosis brought shock and alarm, anxiety, depression, and a whole host of other emotional baggage that I wasn’t prepared for.  It’s been over four years now, and truly, my life didn’t really return to any sort of “manageable” until about a year ago.


I really don’t say that to discourage you, by the way.  In fact, on the contrary, I say it to encourage you.  If you’re anything like me, you probably expected to recover fully from your surgeries and treatments, like, say, yesterday.  I’m here to let you know that you’re not abnormal when you find it takes a lot more effort to do formerly mundane tasks around the house, you can’t remember what you were thinking 5 minutes ago, and you can’t get thoughts of recurrence to vacate the space in your head.  I’ve been through a wide range of feelings, and as quickly as they came upon me, they have been 100 times more stubborn to leave.

And that’s why I jumped at the opportunity to model for Trulife.  Last February, I was asked to be one of 8 survivors featured in the annual catalog. As you all know, there’s a certain amount of trepidation involved when being photographed in a bra.  Heck, women everywhere–and I’m not even talking about those who’ve had breast cancer – freak out at the mere mention of bathing suit season.  I realize that none of us are probably the least bit modest – my local survivor friends and I joke that it feels like every doctor in town has taken a gander at “the goods” – but still, as women many of us are acutely critical concerning our bodies, most especially after breast cancer.  And I’m no exception.  At first, the thought overwhelmed me.  It made me feel vulnerable.  For me, it wasn’t so much about my breasts and what I’d been through with them, as much as it was about the rest of my body.  Treatment put a few extra pounds on me, and I’d only recently been able to get most of it off.  And that’s the very reason I said yes.  Wasn’t it about time I get on with life and some self-acceptance?

I walked onto the set that day, taking in every detail, and suddenly, I wasn’t a breast cancer survivor anymore.  Shut the front door!  I was a Trulife model!  There was hair, makeup, an assistant fussing with both, and lots of mastectomy bras and bra forms.

And absolutely NOTHING cliché.

Easily, it was one of the best moments of my survivorship – a much needed shot in the arm of normalcy, a break from all the stress cancer causes, and an evening of pampering and empowerment.  Finally, I was doing something involving breast cancer that didn’t include fear, sadness or guilt!  And how groundbreaking to be part of a project featuring real-life survivors modeling mastectomy products instead of professional models who’ve never experienced this overwhelming cliché themselves.  I respect and appreciate the authenticity of both Trulife’s catalogs and products, as well as the red carpet treatment they provided. And after viewing the final photos from the shoot, I can’t wait for you to take a peek.

L-R: Trulife models Gayle, Julia, Laura, Val & Jen

L-R: Trulife models Gayle, Julia, Laura, Val & Jen

It’s been great chatting with you, and I invite you to meet me here again on the Trulife Breastcare blog.  I’ll be bringing you valuable product updates, recipes, links to the latest developments in the breast cancer community, and other topics I hope you can relate to as fellow survivors, thrivers and lifers.  And don’t forget to check out the catalog!  You’ll love all of the Trulife products as much as I do.

Victorious Val

Breast Cancer Survivor

6 replies
  1. Virginia
    Virginia says:

    I’ve truly struggled with the cliches and “norms” of breast cancer and have tried to figure out where I fit in. What I’ve learned is there iis no norm or “fitting in.” The world wants us to fit in a nice little box with a pretty pink ribbon but none of us do! We each have our own journey and we have to find our inner strength to boldly set our own course! Following Val and others like her have helped me find my own way and be myself in this insane journey! Thank you for all you do!

    • Victorious Val
      Victorious Val says:

      Good point! We do have our own paths and they are all unique. I definitely don’t fit into a pretty pink box either and we do have to discover our own strengths and courses as you pointed out. Keep on keeping on, Virginia!

  2. Karen Bristol
    Karen Bristol says:

    Val was my strongest supporter and source of information as I went through my recent breast cancer diagnosis and treatment. It was her input that helped me seek a treatment team which would collaborate with me, not dictate to me. I am so pleased that she is now a blogger on this site.


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