This Saturday night I will walk on a runway in front of hundreds of people, in a bra that will be live auctioned to fund the Breast Cancer Resource Center. BCRC is an organization that serves people who are diagnosed with breast cancer in the Austin area with practical, emotional and financial support. ArtBra is the big event that helps to fund that support, while providing a spectacular show that highlights its clients as models and muses to the work of local artists, who have made bras to be auctioned for the cause.
I love the BCRC. I have been a client since the first week of my diagnosis back in November of 2012. But don’t get me wrong, walking a runway is out of my comfort zone. In the week prior to this big event, I find myself anxious and jittery with stage fright. I’ve been heavily dosing myself with episodes of RuPauls Drag Race and lightly punishing myself with videos of supermodels losing their balance and falling on their asses on runways. I joke to myself that if that happens to me, I can get back up and finish my walk, just like they do, plus I’m not really a super model.
Cancer treatment changes a person physically and it can sometimes be dramatic and is usually tramautic. It can leave a person to barely recognize themselves. I have alopecia as a result of chemotherapy. This means that at 34 years old I was left bald for life. Losing my hair forever coupled by my 14 plus year career as a hairstylist has served as a perfect storm for disillusionment/depression/trauma, and periodically, debilitating PTSD, and by the flip of that same coin, an avenue for tremendous healing. In my job, as someone who has been through treatment I am able to hold an emotional space that is unique to my profession for women about to lose their hair or that are growing their hair back after chemotherapy. I have the unique experience of being a healthy woman who gets mistaken for someone who might be sick, based on the way I look. It allows me insight into people’s insecurities and keeps me in a place of compassion for those experiencing these changes for the first time. It offers me the opportunity to practice compassion and patience, for myself and for others. I’m happy to serve in this way, but ArtBra provides me with a more unique opportunity to serve. I want to set an example of someone who through tenacity has found tools to navigate through change, including but not limited to permanent hair loss, multiple reconstruction surgeries and loss of fertility, and feel like a fucking Queen. Accepting my reality has been everything but easy, but I have gained FULL acceptance of a body shaped by cancer. I will do everything I can to help another woman explore her beauty and encourage her to express herself in any way she imagines. In less than one week I will walk down a runway to celebrate my own healing process. I feel more beautiful than ever before and I celebrate the magic of thriving within my reality. I celebrate my sisters and I as beautiful creatures, not despite how this disease and its treatments have marred us, but because we are fierce and wonderful.