Open Wounds

This weekend, I was invited to speak at an event. I was asked to “tell my story.”  I had my usual pre-speaking Nerve Bugs, for which I did my tricks and tips to contain them. However, I found that the copious amounts of practice, deep breathing, and water consumption didn’t work as well as they usually do. In other words, my Nerve Bugs were getting the better of me.

I couldn’t figure out why….until about 3 minutes before the talk when I realized that I’ve never articulated my story in front of a group of people. Well, that’s not completely true. I’ve articulated my ENTIRE story here, on the pages of The Silver Pen. What I really meant is that I’ve never told my story in front of a live audience. When the realization hit, I dropped a few (silent) f-bombs (haven’t done that in a while!) and my mind went blank. Completely. Blank. Fortunately, I did have notes with me (Silver Lining).

Part of my talk was sharing some of the Silver Linings that I’ve witnessed in the past year. Sharing Silver Linings is my sweet spot. As you can probably tell, I loooooove to share them!

However, as soon as I started talking about them..all of a sudden, out of nowhere, emotions (i.e., tears) came flooding out of me. The tear triggers were talking about the HOTY and Sweetly Six. Whoa. Whoa. Whoa. Truth be told: I’m a terrible crier. The tip of my nose and ears turn bright red with purplish hues…my nose drips and I often drool.  It ain’t pretty!  The Silver Lining is that I stayed just this side of tear oblivion!

A little nervous laughter (because really, it was a comical sight) got me back on track (Silver Lining).

What I realized is that I have been trying to talk about FBC (and all of the S**T that came with it) as if it happened 20 years ago.  Nice try. The reality (that I learned the hard way, in front of a group of people) is that my wounds are still very fresh.

What I know for sure is that:

  • Grief during and after FBC (or any other earth shattering event) is not only normative, but also dynamic, pervasive and individual. I don’t think that (change that: I know that I haven’t) fully gone through the grieving process…and still have some work to do.
  • Returning to my regularly scheduled program is not an option.
  • “How are you?” is a very loaded question.
  • Regaining the equilibrium in relationships is an ongoing process.
  • Making long-term plans makes me nervous.
  • I still think about FBC every. single. day.

There is no particular program for coping emotionally with and healing the (internal) wounds of FBC. No regimen that can be prescribed with assurances that, taken twice daily, everything will be fine. It’s a long process circuitous meandering process. However, I still continue to look for and find Silver Linings everyday. Silver Linings do not negate catastrophic circumstances and the feelings of sadness or anger that inevitably follow. What they do (for me) is provide balance and perspective. And for that, I am immensely grateful!

Leave a comment


  1. Charlyn Coleman says

    When I first read the headline about healing wounds, I thought "a day late and a dollar short". My physical wounds took from March 2011 until January 2012 to heal completely. Nine surgeries, a blood clot in my port, jugular, subclavian and axillary veins, and going into atrial fibrillation twice were just a few of my events. Where then does one find that silver lining? I was only able to get one chemo treatment (don't think I could have faced the excruciating pain of the Nuelasta another time) and I now have the most beautiful gray curly hair. I spoke to a ladies' church group shortly after my diagnosis of triple negative BC and broke down crying so hard I couldn't continue. Those ladies, complete strangers to me, enveloped me in a circle of prayer and lifted up my emotional wounds to God right then and there. Then reading your blog made me realize it was the mind-boggling wounds (and fears) we all share.

  2. gracie says

    Good for you! I could never speak about my journey.I still can barely say the word cancer a yr later.I now suffer anxiety and rely on adavan for most social gatherings which is so crazy! Tamoxifen adds to it yes our wounds take time….tears sre earned.xo

    • says

      Thanks so much for your note, Gracie. It's not at all crazy to have to take Ativan. Not at all. Please be patient with yourself and acknowledge (which you are) how long the healing process is. Take good care!

  3. Mary Karkoulas says

    Dear Hollye
    Thank you so much for your wonderful inspiring and very real blog.
    You bring all emotions in your writing exactly how so many of us feel.
    I was diagnosed with breast cancer and have six more sessions of radiation
    It has been a long ten going on to eleven months.
    Silver linings are what get you thru it easier .
    I wish you many silver linings and more days of laughter
    and absolute joy

    • says

      Thank you so much for your kind note, Mary. I couldn't agree more that Silver Linings help get us through. Also wishing you many Silver Linings and much laughter!

  4. says

    I am having a crying day as well.celebrating mothers day and my nine year anniversary has brought along with it lots of hugs, laughter and tears.this morning as I was driving up to my favorite teller at my bank, when she asked how I was and why she hasn't seen me I just started crying. Right in front of her and told her about dealing with breast cancer. Its been coming on for a few days now and I can't wait.until chemo is done.I needed to read this, thank-you! Denise morris


    • says

      Isn't it amazing, Denise, when the tears break through? …at the bank teller line is a perfect example. I hope that the tears that you shed have brought some healing and peace. Sending you all of my very best wishes!

  5. patricia Rezzonico says

    Thank you for your beautiful website. You express your feelings so exquisitely. I also am a cancer survivor and like you, I think about FBC I thought I was the only one who did so. I remain fairly positive but at the end of the day and when dawn breaks, the first and last thing that comes to mind is FBC.

    Thank you for sharing your feelings…it makes me feel like more of a person. This sounds odd, I know. However, my breast cancer specialist, who told me three weeks after my mastectomy that my cancer would be returning, labeled me as "Negative," "Feeling sorry for myself," etc. I bought into her labels, felt very embarrassed until I realized that there is no wrong or right way to feel when someone gives you your FBC diagnosis.

    I consider myself a strong and positive person and her judgements actually made me stronger because I was determined to prove her wrong. I'm not afraid of her anymore and gladly tell her so.

    However, it is refreshing to hear that other strong and courageous women also have those same morning and night FBC fears. It simply makes us human.

    Thanks for listening. I admire you.


    • says

      Dear Pat,
      Thank you so much for your kind and thoughtful note. I am deeply appreciative! I don't think that saying that you feel more like a person is odd…not at all. I completely understand. I'm also so flabbergasted that your breast cancer specialist labeled you as "Negative"…to that I would way, WTF?!?! That's awful! The Silver Lining is that you feel stronger. How wonderful!
      Please take good care of yourself and stay in touch.

  6. Ruth says

    Thank you for your honesty. I have found what you have said to be so true. I remind myself almost every day at least once why I am here and that is to give God praise.

  7. Leticia Croft-Holgui says

    I can totally relate…I thought I came out of this whole process unscaved and handled it all really well…and then I had a couple of episode like yours, one of which I was sharing my story in front of a group for the first time, I was like wow! I am hurting, how did this happen?…I think speaking out loud, you have to say and hear and admit to yourself what actually occurred and how serious it all really was…But emotions make you real to the audience, so no worries!!! I have a speaking engagement in November, were I have to share my story!! Wish me luck!!! No tears please!!! and please share some tips!!!! Thanks for sharing!!!

  8. E.B. says

    Thank you for your beautiful blog and website. They are two MAJOR silver linings in my life. You always inspire, bring laughter (and tears, but good tears) and put life in perspective. Your description of being a "terrible crier" had me laughing out loud at work, making for some VERY odd looks (they SHOULD be used to me by now!). All the women in my family cry beautifully, their eyes glisten, their lips tremble and their make-up, somehow, remains perfect. I did not get that particular gene. My eyes turn red and swell until they are mere slits, my nose also swells, turns beefsteak tomato red and DRIPS. I don't drool, but my lips could give Angelina a run for her money and I get blotches all over my face and neck. The phrase "Ugly Cry" does not even begin to do my "cry face" justice. So happy to be in excellent company! May you continue to find (and blog about) many, many, many silver linings on your journey. Sending blessings, light and joy to you and yours!

    • says

      Dear E.B.,
      Thank YOU for your kind and thoughtful note. I can't tell you how much I appreciate it. It was the Silver Lining way to start my day! Glad to be in excellent "Ugly Crier" company as well! Thank you, again…and please stay in touch!

  9. Fran says

    About a year after my diagnosis, we were invited to a party. I found I couldn't go, couldn't handle all that went with the small talk of standing around having people ask me how I was. Told my doc, who was the most compassionate man ever, and as I burst into tears, he sat down with me and explained this was the mourning period. For a year, I had been strong, I had surgery, chemo, radiation and kept my family together. Now that my hair was back, and daily appointments over, I needed time to grieve. While I was busy going through everything, I never missed a beat to show everyone that this cancer wasn't going to get me. Now I needed time to lick my wounds. It took a while…..

    • says

      Dear Fran,
      Thanks so much of your note. I totally get it. I had one of those sessions with my oncologist and found it to be incredibly healing. It does indeed take a while…and this time requires a great deal of patience!
      Thanks so much for sharing!

    • grace says

      fran, reading your reply was like looking at doc said same thing,I've been so busy making everyone feel ok and being strong for them that when treatment was over I sorta fell apart,..terrified and unable to talk to anyone about how I felt.IT DEF IS A MOURNING PERIOD.i MOURN FOR THE ME THAT HAS BEEN LOST I FEEL LIKE i AM JUST THE ''SICK''ME NOW..BUT WORKING ON THAT!..STAY POSITIVE..:)

  10. Janie K. says

    Wow– thank you for that post. I was diagnosed with stage 2, triple neg. Breast cancer in feb 2011 and finished treatment in august of 2011. I am still coping with the same feelings and anxieties you wrote about, especially the fresh, open wound feeling even though in a way it feels like it happened so long ago. I have so appreciated your blog with its silver-lined theme balanced with the tough realities of a serious illness. Thank you!

    • says

      Dear Janie,
      Thank you for your note. I can't tell you how much it means to me. Wishing you a great deal of Silver Lined healing, while balancing the process of living with an open (physically invisible) wound.
      Please stay in touch!