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by Sally Jean Brudos

A wise sage with experience warned me, "When the bandages come off, the tubes and drains have gone and you are all alone," she said, "don't look down at yourself - at what is missing. Look in the mirror. Look at the smooth softness of your cheeks. Look at your beautiful blue eyes twinkling under the curlicues in your shiny hair. Look at yourself as the beautiful person that your are.

Then guide your eyes down to where those breasts were. Take note of the jagged scraggly burgundy scar advancing across your chest, the indent where your sternum stops and the little pocket of skin in your armpit. Know that there is beauty there too. The color of that branch will fade in time, but the scar will always be with you just as your breasts were. Know that you are beginning a new chapter in your life - one in which you will look and feel different. Perhaps you will feel the freedom to do and to be those things you have always wanted for yourself."

As I looked in the mirror, my sage was right. It is the beginning of a new chapter in my life. One I will have to write as I go forward.

Sally is a breast cancer survivor and wrote with Sharon Bray during her recuperation. She now leads women's writing groups at her church as part of the Women's Ministries.