It has been said that a lot can happen in a year. It was about this time last year that I was weaning my baby girl and talking to my oncologist about what the best age would be to have a preventative mastectomy. For someone that grew up in a family of breastless women, it was a decision that I made many years ago. Perhaps, looking back I should have prepared myself better, but how could someone really prepare for a mastectomy. In two weeks, I will have my 7th and hopefully my final surgery in less than a year. After a long year, what I am most confident about is that this was the best decision for me. Not only, because I feel that I saved my life but also through the struggle my family has evolved and our priorities have changed.

Thanksgiving Day seems to be an appropriate time to reflect on the wonderful people in my life and to express the sincere gratitude I feel for the gifts that have been given to me.

I have these wonderful glimpses of memories from this year that make my heart just explode with love: standing in the shower as my sister washed my hair, my dad sleeping outside the bathroom door because I was too sick to come out, my sweet little boy running to me, laughing so hard at my brother that I had to kick him out of the recovery room, shaking with fear while a friend’s calm voice soothed me, friends convincing me that having no boobs made me look like a model, my mom loving my children, the stranger that snapped a picture of me with my drains to show his wife so that she too could get out of bed, the day that I could pick up my baby girl again, the countless women that noticed my drains or my breastless self that smiled warmly at me, the friends that were patient with me when I was not being such a great friend, the acquaintance that shouted across my gym “Michelle you look f*ing amazing” even though I only had one boob, being able to talk to my daughter about how lucky I am to be with her, and the countless people that have touched them and seen them now that there are two.

And there are two, two very important people. I can’t even express my gratitude except to say that the two of them held me up when I didn’t have the strength to do it myself.   As far as I’m concerned they are angels living among us. I have this amazing husband that not only survived this year but totally rocked it. He loves me; and lord I don’t know how sometimes. But whatever made him choose me makes me the luckiest girl in the world. Not only has he supported this decision, but cared for our children, and now knows how to be a both a mother and a father all at the same time. And then there is Marilyn, I am fortunate to have her as a partner in our new venture. For all of you that know her, know that she is kind and selfless beyond words. But to me, she guided me through this experience allowing me to only see the positives in this world. She is my person, my go to, just an amazing friend. And as far as our business, she is super creative, a brilliant public speaker and genuinely cares about every women we are helping. To say thank you will never be enough.

It has been exactly 324 days since my mastectomy. During that time, I’ve learned how important it is to be a better mom, better wife, and better friend. I feel so fortunate to have so much love around me and I am going to spend the rest of my life paying it forward. Our company, Marilyn and Michelle, and first product, the TaTa Topper, is the first step in our effort to make other women’s lives better. You all give me motivation everyday because of your love and support. I’m living a very full life. Thank you for being so much a part of it.

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