We have a confession to make. About three months ago, we hosted a boudoir blog post giveaway. We asked our followers to hashtag appropriately and tell a friend about the opportunity. One name kept getting mentioned and we followed the Instagram breadcrumbs to the profile. We’re telling you today, we rigged the selection. We hope you’ll understand why.
This is our friend, Heather . . . and she’s a god damned warrior.
At the age of 28, Heather described herself as an extremely fit, active and healthy person. She played soccer four times a week and had the kind of metabolism even teenage boys coveted; most notably, she shared that she had an “effing fantastic rack.”
Then, in the middle of a perfectly blissful day, that was a part of her perfectly blissful life with her oh-so-fantastic boyfriend of seven months, the universe dealt her the “C- card.” Fucking, Breast Cancer. It was aggressive.
Quickly, the stresses in Heather’s life took on a different tone. Instead of worrying about opting for fries versus salad, Heather was having conversations with her relatively new boyfriend that included whether or not to fertilize and freeze eggs at a personal cost of $20,000 just in case they maybe wanted to have kids(?!) and what was going to happen to her “effing fantastic rack.”
“I was worried about a million things. Along with the obvious stuff like living, I was worried about losing what made me, in my eyes, feminine: my hair, my athletic body and my breasts. And even though this was about me and the changes my body would be going through – I couldn’t help but stress about how my boyfriend would handle it. This was heavy stuff, and we’d only been together for seven months.
In the blink of an eye, he would go from playing with my hair in bed, to shaving my head for me as I sobbed uncontrollably in the backyard.”
The next 18 months of her life were based on a three week cycle of chemotherapy treatments. Heather describes herself as “losing hair, gaining weight, and struggling to recognize the person she saw in the mirror. Mostly I was wondering if I wouldn’t have to worry about any of that the next week . . . because the reality was: the week I was living at that moment might have been my last.”
As a part of her treatment and in hopes of preventing the cancer’s recurrence, Heather underwent a drastic double mastectomy.
“I remember when the bandages were removed. My breasts just weren’t gone, they were concave. I cried. I knew it was a necessary evil, but no one can really prepare you for the impact something like that makes on your identity.”
After sixteen gruelling months, things started to look up. She had her new boobs and was in the midst of training for acrazy ridiculous bike ride to officially flip the bird to cancer by travelling from Calgary to Portland, Maine. . . on a bicycle (like we said, a god damned warrior).
Following one of her final 70 kilometer “practice runs” Heather was in the shower, and noticed one of her implants had changed in consistency. After a visit to her plastic surgeon they discovered her implant had exploded. Not only was this super rare, it was a massive pain in her ass as it meant another surgery.
This time, it turned out; the universe was on her side. During the preoperative process, her doctors concluded her cancer had returned. Fortunately, they had caught it early enough so that it hadn’t yet metastasized, even so, this conclusion would mean radiation treatment and another surgery.
Following more tests, her oncologists concluded that she had the genetic coding that had a high incidence of ovarian cancer. To be safe, she had a full hysterectomy.
Presently, Heather is a 33 year old two-time cancer survivor in the middle of menopause. How’s your day going?
We share Heather’s story not to chastise or to make any of us feel badly about the stresses we feel in our life, whether they’re related to body image, professional pressures, or home-life-stress, but rather to provide a dose of perspective. Not for a second would we want you to feel better about your day, because someone else had a shitty one – that’s not our goal; our goal is to provide that friendly reminder to put the self-critiquing magnifying glass down and acknowledge, accept and embrace your good fortune, in all ways.
Last and certainly not least, we wanted to share with you images of the powerful day Libertee shared with Heather, as they worked together to rediscover and reaffirm the beauty, femininity and all out sex appeal that is embodied by the one and only warrior, Heather Cooper.