Guest Writer Wednesday: Stacey's Brows

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and the Unicorn Mission is honored to welcome guest writer, Stacey, a fierce Breast Cancer Survivor. Stacey shares this beautiful story about breast cancer and the loss of her eyebrows following chemotherapy. She truly embraces her experience. Please welcome Stacey to the Unicorn Mission!

I miss my eyebrows.

I hadn’t thought much about these strips of hair on my forehead until they were gone. I hadn’t thought much about how they are linked to your soul, your expression, your sense of self. They allow people into your thoughts, beyond the language you use, they convey energy and depth and truth.

“Every moment, whether still or moving, observed or alone, your eyebrows reflect your inner mental and emotional landscape with amazing speed and specificity. They are silent dancers who speak volumes, display remarkable social instincts, and declare your identity, sex, age, and beauty.” Sadr, Javid (2015, September) Why Do We Have Eyebrows? https://www.independent.co.uk

You see, I care about these things. Deeply. I am a theatre artist - a performer, a director, a creator. I work in expression. I work in faces, I thrive in emotion.

But now…I am a Breast Cancer Survivor. A new one. A young one.

A shot from Dancing Around the Subject, an “award winning short student documentary about a breast cancer survivor normalizing her life again featuring her relationship with her 4 year old daughter.” See link to this documentary about Stacey below.

A shot from Dancing Around the Subject, an “award winning short student documentary about a breast cancer survivor normalizing her life again featuring her relationship with her 4 year old daughter.” See link to this documentary about Stacey below.

I was diagnosed at 36…3 years ago today…at the prime of my life and career and exploration of self – as a woman, as an artist, a mother, a wife…

I was comfortable in my body, felt safe in my sense of self…

Then…whoa…

Breasts taken, new ones replaced…Hey…not too bad…more perky then I had before! Hey, was that where my nipple used to be? When will these scars fade? Wow, they really don’t move! Oh shit, how long was I hanging out of my bikini top? I don’t FEEL anything there anymore! Totally numb. Too big? Too small? Too late now…but…damn…not bad…thanks Dr. Bateman.

Then….

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“Each and every morning I get up and gaze into the mirror…

…and see a reflection of a woman who’s endured…and a woman who prevails.”

Chemo goes in…out comes hair...I decided to shave my head right away. Rocked my bald head for months, people thought I had a lovely, symmetrical head. People told me not everyone could look as good as I did bald. Thanks, maybe??? You know, I really did look pretty good bald. There was a sort of glow to my eyes that I can see in photos. A depth. A presence…a truth.

I still had my eyebrows. Maybe it was my body throwing me a bone in order to get through the HELL of chemo and its physical side effects, those little guys held on providing a reminder of my face, of the woman I was before cancer…

I am not sure of the exact moment I discovered my eyebrows were gone, however, I woke one day to a realization I no longer had any. This was at least a year after the chemo had left my body and it had been replaced by a hormone repressor, Tamoxifen. See, my cancer fed off estrogen, so Tamoxifen represses whatever hormone you have left – blocks your body’s ability to use it – access it.

It stole my damn eyebrows. It’s taken a LOT more than I bargained for.

I can’t begin to express the IMMEDIATE and MAJOR discoveries you make about your body and yourself as a woman and emotional being without estrogen. Most women have a gradual shift into this state. It might begin with minor mood changes, body changes, energy changes...but POW…I went from a 36 year old woman to a 60 year old, overnight.

 
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Someone close to me said, “What’s so wrong with feeling 60?” I think she missed the point…I didn’t get to feel 38 or 40 or 50…I didn’t get time to come to terms with my loss of fertility…In a sense, loss of womanhood…

I can’t give my beautiful daughter a sibling. I never feel “good,” I always hurt…in every joint. My moods are all over the place –no energy. Sex? Um...no thank you? I can’t feel pleasure the same, my drive is completely gone…Physical changes…digestive issues, hair doesn’t grow – first eyelashes…then eyebrows…then me and my sense of self…

What’s the answer to a face without eyebrows, a face without expression? The shell of a woman who was once there…the artist who’s lost their muse…?

Well…

I draw. I draw them on. Each and every morning I get up and gaze into the mirror and see a reflection of a woman who’s endured…and a woman who prevails. So I draw those damn eyebrows on with my miracle Bobbi Brown chalk stick, (really, it’s a miracle) and I move forward…to redefine…my life…my perspective…my body…my brows…

And…damn…they look pretty good.

For more about Stacey’s story, please check out this link to a short documentary.

To donate to breast cancer research, please visit this link.

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Stacey D’Angelo, Survivor: Originally from upstate NY, Stacey has enjoyed living in Denver for the past 16 years with her husband Dan, daughter Sydney (7) and 6- pound Yorkie, Peppa. Together they enjoy family bike rides, lazy Sundays at their favorite coffee shop, travel, seeing theatre and spending time with friends and family. Stacey is a theatre professor, writer and performer specializing in creating original theatre in an effort to build community and share powerful narrative.

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