cancer, Dear Life., Guest Posts

Dear Life: How Do I Knock Down The Walls Cancer Has Built Around Me?

November 9, 2014


By Joules Evans.

Welcome to Dear Life: An Unconventional Advice Column. Your questions get sent to various authors from around the world to answer. Different writers offer their input when it comes to navigating through life’s messiness. We are “making messy okay.” Today’s question is answered by Joules Evans, author of Shaken, Not Stirred. A Chemo Cocktail.

Have a question for us? Need some guidance? Click here. Please address it as if you are speaking to a person rather than life or the universe. Need help navigating through life’s messiness? Write to us!


Dear Life,

I’m 32 now – 30 & 31 were filled with having double mastectomy, painful reconstruction, chemo and radiation. I’m starting heal my mind, to get back into the swing of life and letting myself look at possibilities I haven’t in years – seizing the day, romantic possibilities.

I like a boy – it’s crazy, it’s been a long time. How do I knock these fucking walls down and start acknowledging I do deserve something great in my life. My body is literally what is left of a battlefield. I look at myself in the mirror and feel so broken and impossible to love. I worry so much I will open up to this guy I will be completely and utterly rejected.. and even more broken than I started out. Help.

Love & light,
BC Survivor

Dear Love & Light, sister BC Survivor,

Wow. 30 & 31 sure sound like a one-two punch that tried to TK you O. I’m so very sorry you had to go through all that. But Ka-POW. 32. What a comeback. What a milestone after all that shit. What a #beautyhunting kind of miracle that you are on the other side, starting to heal your mind, getting back into the swing of life, seizing the day, and sizzling over a boy. It’s as it should be. Fuck cancer. Fuck how long it’s been. Fuck the walls. YOU. deserve. something. great. in. your. life. And why not? You’ve certainly been “in training” for something extraordinary. I think you have already kicked the shit out of those walls with the double mastectomy, reconstruction, chemo, radiation, and especially your kickass attitude. Dear Love & Light . . . I’m bowing to that love and light in you and think it says everything that you signed your name that way. It is such a sucker punch to cancer. It’s like a left hook, then a right, right to the kisser. Wham! Bam! Thank you (not) ma’am. To come back with (as) love and light. Whoa. Namafreakingste. Talk about TKO. Talk about a knockout.

I will never be able to see you in the mirror the way you see yourself in the mirror. But I do know a mirror is a skewed perspective that nobody else but you can see. Have you ever heard of The SCAR Project? I work with the photographer, David Jay. Here’s what he said about the smoke and mirrors of mirrors.

“During the shoot of Sarah, the red haired woman with tears running down her face. The shoot was going well. The pictures looked good, honest. There was laughter. I was pleased with the images we had captured. I loaded the pictures into the computer and called Sarah over to look. She came and stood behind me in silence. Then tears. Mine too. I grabbed the camera again . . . “Now, we take pictures.”

There is something about photography that’s very real. We’re so accustomed to seeing ourselves in a mirror but that reflection is actually reversed. A photograph isn’t. That’s why it’s often shocking to see yourself in a photograph—it’s not what you see in the mirror every day. It’s what everyone else sees. In that moment, Sarah came face to face with herself.

[Photo is of Sarah, NOT Joules Evans. Photo credit to The SCAR Project Photographer David Jay.)

Here is the link to Sarah’s SCAR blog which is her story in her own words.

When I see Sarah’s picture I see breathtaking beauty. Also, she happens to be a dear friend so I KNOW. She IS. breathtaking beauty. I know I don’t know you, but I can already tell you that I know YOU are too, Light & Love. No one can read your words and get a sense of your heart and not be stunned by your beauty. And anyone who can’t see it has a perspective more fucked up than a hall of mirrors. So fuck them. (not literally!). (Pehaps the mirror is the real wall we are talking about here, and if so, then I say Fuck Luck and shatter the mirror.)

I know that might seem easy for me to say. I was 42 when I got diagnosed, married with 3 teenagers. My husband used to be a boob man, but the second my boobs tried to kill me he literally kissed them goodbye. I had a double mastectomy, without reconstruction, and 24 chemo cocktails. My husband took me to every doctor’s appointment and chemo; my 2 teenage boys, whom I was homeschooling took care of me during the dog days of chemo. I mention my husband and boys because even though my body, like yours, is what is left of a battlefield, and even though a TSA agent once asked me what my gender was and I sometimes get carded when I’m out with my boys because I get mistaken for being one of the boys, my husband and my boys (literally, my own little band of brothers) pretty much carried me through the battlefield. I mention that, because you deserve something great in your life, so I want you to set the bar high. A man who looks upon your scars and sees strength and courage . . . grace . . . and beauty. Not broken. Not impossible to love. Worthy of love. Believe.

It’s time to kick down those fucking walls. You’ve already done the impossible part to get to this point in your life where you are crazy about a boy and thinking of romantic possibilities. You kicked cancer’s ass. Take a good look at those battle scars. You are fierce. You are woman. So go ahead and roar.

“What are you going to do with your one wild and precious life?”~Mary Oliver

The possibilities! Mission. Possible.

Roar, love & light. BE love & light. Sprinkle that shit everywhere. Do love. Shine. You know how very precious the gift of time is. Don’t waste it. If you’re crazy about the boy, then go kiss and tell the boy. Take a shot. Why the hell not? #YOLO “Wear your scars like stardust” to quote my friend Amy Ferris, and remember the bar is high. You are checking out the boy; not vice versa. It has nothing to do with whether or not you are impossible to love, but everything to do with whether he has love. I hope he is in awe of the love & light, and the stardust, because he sure as hell better be if he wants to make the cut. And if he doesn’t make the cut it is because he is being rejected, not you. Because you do deserve something great in your life. Believe. That’s my wish for you, love & light, Joules Evans.

*(Joules is not the one in the photo. That is beautiful Sarah.)


Please note: Advice given in Dear Life is not meant to take the place of therapy or any other professional advice. The opinions or views offered by columnists are not intended to treat or diagnose; nor are they meant to replace the treatment and care that you may be receiving from a licensed physician or mental health professional. Columnists acting on behalf of Dear Life are not responsible for the outcome or results of following their advice in any given situation.

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The 12 Day Detox is here. Sign up now for May 25th cleanse. Space is limited. This detox comes at just the perfect time. Reprogram your body and mind as we move into the new season of spring. This is your time of rejuvenation and renewal.This is not a juice fast, or a detox based on deprivation.

Jen Pastiloff is the founder of The Manifest-Station. Join her in Tuscany for her annual Manifestation Retreat. Click the Tuscan hills above. No yoga experience required. Only requirement: Just be a human being. Yoga + Writing + Connection. We go deep. Bring an open heart and a sense of humor- that's it! Summer or Fall 2015. It is LIFE CHANGING!

Jen Pastiloff is the founder of The Manifest-Station. Join her in Tuscany for her annual Manifestation Retreat. Click the Tuscan hills above. No yoga experience required. Only requirement: Just be a human being. Yoga + Writing + Connection. We go deep. Bring an open heart and a sense of humor- that’s it! Summer or Fall 2015. It is LIFE CHANGING!

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  • Reply Barbara Potter November 9, 2014 at 2:18 pm


  • Reply denisebarry November 9, 2014 at 4:45 pm

    Love love love this

  • Reply Claudia Jacobs November 9, 2014 at 4:46 pm

    I am moved beyond words. What a powerful story. What a beautiful woman.

  • Reply Kathy November 9, 2014 at 4:48 pm

    Beautiful and such strength!

  • Reply lisa November 10, 2014 at 8:25 am

    Look at what u have been through as takes a strong individual to live with cancer. And a stronger person to FIGHT AND WIN with cancer

  • Reply Brett Hardcastle November 10, 2014 at 3:04 pm

    I am not a woman and I have not had cancer, but Jennifer’s story reminded me of man’s inhumanity to man. And how insensitive we have all become. And how terrible it is to be alone and without love. We so often ignore the physical and mental pain and anguish of others, as it is not ours personally–yet these are the times when we need to love them the most. Thank goodness there are still those of us who think beyond the physical and care enough to do something about it. Brett

  • Reply Mike Jacobs November 14, 2014 at 2:47 pm

    God so young, You are a remarkable woman. You stood up fought and won this battle. My wife Marjorie, did not win her battle and she passed while at home with me and our children at her side holding her and comforting her. Marjorie and I met in 1971 and we remained together until her passing in 2002. We were married for 24 of those wonderful years. Marjorie was not only my wife but she was my best friend and lover. We were soul mates. I stood by her though out the 7 in half years of her battle and we watched friends and other couples that we met who were also going through this separate and divorce. But our love for each other grew stronger with every obstacle that got in our way. I praise any man who stands by his wife as she battles her cancer be it breast or any other. We lost our oldest son to cancer when he was 20 and now I have leukemia. Luckily for me I have found a woman who loves me and so far has stood by as I fight my cancer battle. Anyone who stands by there mate deserves praise and a hug. For those few know what love is and what it means to love. Hats off to you and all survivors for we make the difference. Stand by the one you love.

  • Reply Trisha December 19, 2014 at 1:52 am

    I absolutely love the stories that you post about strong women whom are capable of kicking Cancer in the *insert whatever slang, expletive, gives you the “Hell Yeah” feeling. Sarah … I’m sure you’ve heard this a bazillion times … but just like I told my own mother, “You are the epitome of what it means to be a woman.” You, just like any other female, have dealt with the monthly reminder that “WooHoo You’re able to create a wondrous life!” and such, but you’ve gone so many steps above that and said (Excuse my language but feel free to edit) Fuck you, Cancer!.

    Women like yourself, give me hope. I’m a 29 year old mother and an army wife, (7 and 32 … but boys are always the same age <3 ;P) Before I met my college love at first site, I was diagnosed with Hashimotos' Thyroiditis. Four years ago, that wasn't my major problem. I took synthroid and was told to "tough out" the side effects. I lost 80% of my hair. I was introduced to random itching, along with a LIST of symptoms. 5 months ago I found out that the random "lymph bumps" that were popping up were actually Stage 2 Breast Cancer. 3 months later, I discovered some painful lumps in my arm pit region. That's pushing Stage 3. I lost my insurance and started a GoFundMe, and that is absolutely a RIP OFF, unless you have well off family and friends. Welcome to an Army Wife's life.

    The grace with which your story was told, gives me hope.

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