Firebrand Rabble-Rouser

Posted: September 16th, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: breast cancer, mastectomy, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment »

The 2014 Fall/Winter issue of Modern Woman hasn’t even hit the public shelves yet and already, some very interesting conversations have begun — in regard to my participation in an article in that issue. It will focus on what some of us breast cancer survivors have been experiencing.  My contribution was an interview about my mastectomy tattooing experience, gifted by Personal P.INK, and, some tasteful photographs of them. Some of these conversations proved for me to be perceived as being a firebrand in nature, and some, apparently, on the rabble-rouser side of things.

Firebrand Convos

I’ve always said, “It’s often not what you know, but, who you know that matters.” And, when I find myself impassioned about something, in the name of networking, I’ll gladly repeat my impassioned schtick — because, “you never know who knows who.”

I guess that makes me a firebrand … “a person who is passionate about a particular cause, typically inciting change and taking radical action.”

Look into each others heartsBefore the photo shoot began, the photographer, Brad Clift, asked me a few questions about my breast cancer and my tattoos. I gladly told him a boiled-down version about my breast cancer and how much the mastectomy tattoos have changed my life. And, especially about how excited I was that we survivors were going to be heard from on a national platform.

Throughout the respectful photo shoot there was a good amount of chatter and banter amongst my family, Annie (my stylist), and Brad. It made for one of the scariest purposeful-actions in my life, so far, to be as comfortable as possible.

Something about that photo shoot apparently moved Brad. After he submitted the photographs to the magazine, he wrote me a very touching email. In it he said he was now a “believer and a convert” — as to what P.INK stood for and was doing for us survivors.

Brad requested to be put in touch with my tattoo artist, Shannon, who owns/operates Indigo Rose Tattoo Studio, and, with the folks at Personal P.INK … Because, Brad not only wants to contribute his professional services on a P.INK Day, he also wants to put P.INK in touch with several major magazine contacts he has! Pronto too!

I hope everything falls into place for Brad, P.INK, and his connections, to sync up for the “2014 2nd Annual P.INK Day.”

Last night, Brad and I got to have a nice uninterrupted 45-minute phone conversation. He asked more questions and I shared more details. Mostly about why us survivors need to be heard from — for morale and remaining medical issues. What the medical community desperately needs to get up to speed on, in regard to our post-breast reconstruction needs. Why tattooing should be a medically covered option, and procedure, when it comes to nipple and areola tattooing; and, mastectomy scar tattooing.

Suffice it to say, I think all of these various firebrand conversations going on will help the survivor community’s need to be heard from.

Rabble-Rouser Convos

I guess there’s a thin line to dance upon, when it comes to being perceived as a firebrand, an activist, or a rabble-rouser, a trouble maker.

 

A firebrand … “a person who is passionate about a particular cause, typically inciting change and taking radical action.”

A rabble-rouser … “a person who speaks with the intention of inflaming the emotions of a crowd of people.”

 

People sometimes joke off, usually with a thread of their perceived truth, that which they’re uncomfortable about.  And sometimes, it can unintentionally come across as being mean-spirited. Amongst the conservative slice of my inner-circle’s demographics, this unintentionally happened.

Dalai Lama inner peace“Wow, Chérie could be a porn star!”  …   “Here comes the porn star!” …  “No matter how much of an activist you perceive yourself to be, to most folks you’re just gonna be a gal who bared her breasts for a magazine.” …  “Well, if it isn’t the porn star!”

I’ve patiently donned my “Firebrand Boots” and calmly pointed out how speaking to me, and about me (as being a porn star), planted an extremely negative seed in other people’s minds (who are dear to me) that heard those words — regardless of it being intended as a joke.

It is a blessing to be respected and loved within my inner-circle. The unintentional negative jokes have stopped.

As for the public? If and when the negative jokes might happen, I’ll just take it on the chin. Can’t chase down ‘n set straight everybody ‘n their 3rd cousin.

So … Rabble-rouser. Firebrand. Either way, I’m at peace. The path I consciously chose to walk will have at least gotten someone to stop and think — even if for a few seconds.

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Limelight Flickers

Posted: September 4th, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: breast cancer, mastectomy, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off

Andy Warhol once said, “In the future, everyone will be world-famous for 15 minutes.” The quote supposedly came about from a conversation with photographer, Nat Finkelstein, during a photo shoot. In 1966, Andy was posing for a book that Nat was working on at the time. “A crowd gathered trying to get into the pictures and Warhol supposedly remarked that everyone wants to be famous, to which Finkelstein replied, “Yeah, for about fifteen minutes, Andy.”

Andy Warhol

Andy Warhol

In 1968 Warhol immortalized that satirical quip into one of his art shows at the Moderna Museet.  It was meant as a statement about how fleeting the nature of fame would become within pop-culture.

In today’s global social media culture, it seems Andy’s and Nat’s satire has been twisted, forgotten. Now people will go to great lengths to grab 15 minutes worth of fame. As if fame actually means something. Too often, too quickly, we see these people stoop to disparaging behavior in attempts to try and hang onto it.

In today’s social media culture of “adore ‘um up, chew ‘um up, spit ‘um out” I am going to satirically state the following:

 

“You can now go from fame to infamy

in 5.7 minutes flat.” ~ Chérie

 

What seems like many lifetimes ago, I was deeply immersed in the culture of professional musicians. I was married to a rather popular, and extremely talented, blues guitarist. He was well-known across the state we lived in at the time, and, in the Nordic regions of Europe. At home, there was rarely a time we could go out in public and not be approached by someone that recognized him.

When I left that limelight culture, I did so with many invaluable life-lessons … One of which was,

 

“Fame means something, and yet in the exact same nanosecond,

it means absolutely nothing.” ~ Chérie

 

A few months ago Personal P.INK asked if I would be willing to share my P.INK story of my mastectomy tattoos done in NYC in 2013 by Beloved Shannon of Indigo Rose Tattoo Studio from SC. And, be professionally photographed by Bradley E. Clift for the 2014 Fall/Winter issue in USA TODAY’s magazine, Modern Woman.

"Modern Woman"

“Modern Woman” Fall/Winter 2012

The journalist wanted to do something different during what is now the ‘breast cancer awareness month’ of October. She wanted to focus on survivors. It seems we are rarely focused upon.

Sharing my tattoo story was one thing. But posing for intimate photographs of my mastectomy tattoos, my breasts, to prospectively been seen by 2.7 million people? That gave cause for some deep consideration.

Here is why I agreed to be photographed:

If the tasteful photographs inspire just one mastectomy scarred woman, a survivor, who is just like I was — “I’m really not a tattoo kind of person. I don’t have anything against them, they’re just not me.”

If my being willing to follow in P.INK’s founder, Molly’s, “Maverick Boots” path inspires a survivor to say, “Hey, I can do that too! I can get a beautiful “forever bra” tattooed over my mastectomy scars!”

If that one survivor then follows through and reclaims her “underneath beauty” too?  As a breast cancer survivor myself, I will have just started to pay forward the treasure of tattooed ‘underneath beauty’ that was so freely gifted to me by P.INK.

The fickle nature of limelight flickers will have been worth every nerve-wracking moment. The moments of thinking this through and the photography session itself. These photographs are now forever a part of my reputation, my life, my legacy … even long after my corporeal existence is gone. That means something.

Being in the limelight can come with privileges, but it also comes with responsibilities — especially in a potentially controversial situation that these photographs may well create. Believe it not, I’ve already experienced some mean-spirited negativity from a few women in regard to my tattoos.

As to “fame,” my past experience has been that because a stranger might be familiar with your image, they can often unintentionally be too familiar in their behavior with you. They may barge into an intimate dinner. Or, passionately voice their opposing opinion(s) — anywhere at any time. There becomes a personal responsibility as to how you conduct yourself in public.

And, one must be careful to remain grounded. Don’t believe what is said about you in the mass media — good or bad. Refrain from getting caught up in the accolades. Keep yourself humble.

"Bless her heart!"

“Bless her heart!”

I didn’t participate in this project to be in the limelight … I honestly was just attempting to step up to the survivor plate and pay my survivor tattoo gift forward.

This blog article is to officially explain what went into my deciding to agree to doing the photographs for the Modern Woman magazine.

But as I stated earlier … Fame means something, yet in the exact same nanosecond, it means absolutely nothing.

So, as the limelight flickers, I pray I won’t end up a “Bless Her Heart” case. You know, one of those gals that parades around, envisioning herself to be a gracefully aging super model —  But in reality, nobody has the heart to tell her she really looks like Jay Leno … in drag.

“Bless her heart!”

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Diverse Directions

Posted: August 27th, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: breast cancer | Tags: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

For the past several months my life has been flowing in diverse directions. One direction, deeply private and poignantly somber. The other direction, joyous maverickism with grand public magnitude.

Deeply Private

The deeply private direction has to do with an aspect of survivorship that is rarely talked about, depression. Anyone that personally knows me, knows that I am consciously active in being a ‘gratitude gal.’ My go-to mantra is, “Find a blessing a day, it’s there!” Annoying as that sounds sometimes, there really is a blessing to be found at any given moment in one’s life.  Turns out though that my ‘can do’ attitude could only carry me so far.

00 1 in 3 go through depression signThe aftermath of Cortisol, that had been repeatedly pumped into my body for years from breast cancer related stress and other health issues, well, it finally all caught up with me. One recent simple medically induced stressor brought this gratitude gal to her knees.

I sought professional advice; privately spoke with other survivors; and, did some research on my own about the type of depression I have been experiencing.  I’ve come to call this physiological type of depression, “Survivor Depression.” Apparently breast cancer survivor depression is quite common a year or more after one becomes a survivor — despite how brave, audacious and grateful a survivor’s attitude may be. It’s not psychological, is physiological. While 2,791 words into the expansive blog article, “Survivor Depression Deconstructed,” there’s still just a tad bit  more to write before the article is done.

Quite honestly, I about flatly refused to write about this experience. I wanted to keep it private. But, it seems that the Universe, The Divine, God, Mr. Pickles and/or my subconscious mind had other ideas. When I heard myself say to another survivor, “Wish I had known about this crap BEFORE it happened!” — I knew it was my calling to do just that … write about being “forced” into a depression while feeling blissful about just being stinkin’ alive. Blog article to come, I promise — because it seems that moi “has” to write about it, or never get any dang creative peace from the Universe until I do.

But enough of the somber stuff … Onto the other direction, joyous maverickism with grand public magnitude!

Joyous Maverickism

Personal P.INK is at it, again. They’re bringing new adventures into my life, P.INK style … a whirlwind! A few months ago they asked me if I would be willing to participate in a magazine article about my P.INK Day tattooing experience last year. After having been privileged to have been a part of Molly’s maverick vision, that brought the precious gift of ‘underneath’ beauty back to 10 survivors? How could I say no?

(Video of P.INK Day 2013)

This October the magazine Modern Woman, that is a part of USA Today, will feature an article on breast cancer survivors. October, as we all know, is breast cancer awareness month. Throughout social media the focus is usually upon the battle phase of breast cancer. Modern Woman has chosen to focus on an aspect of breast cancer that is often overlooked, that of being a survivor.

Scarp Top Shoe

Silk pants, silk scarf, just one of the pairs of fancy-dancy shoes.

The magazine article is supposed to reach at least 2.7 million people. Sharing my story with the journalist, Stephanie, at first felt a little daunting. But she was so relaxed, curious and professional it quickly became easy to tell her how much P.INK had changed my life. How my Beloved Shannon’s artwork and craftsmanship seemingly erased the ravages of my war scars. How a sliver of intimate feminine confidence had been restored.

But the magazine interview is not all there is to my participation with P.INK this year. From the get go, there’s been something unique about how P.INK’s energy flows through my life’s path — their energy seems to get me to push myself to new limits. To new personal boundaries never dreamed of.

Last year it was a total whirlwind from the literal minute I posted a comment on their Facebook page, about my three failed areola tattoos and how I’d given up hope of ever feeling beautiful underneath my clothing ever again.

This year, the magnitude of 2.7 million people being reached, made for giving a serious pause as to what and how I would say things. No longer was it just me being me, often flippant on my little blog. I would be part of a voice representing an organization that is profoundly, and successfully, changing women’s lives, forever.

The interview proved to be easy. Tomorrow’s experience however, will push me the furthest on one of my personal boundaries. Modern Woman has asked if I would be willing to participate in a professional photo shoot. They’ve asked for a tattoo portrait shot, and, for photographs of my tattoos to be done by the award winning professional photographer, Bradley E. Clift.

Teddy supervising the fashion sprawl.

Teddy supervising the fashion sprawl.

Gulp. Ever since I was a teenager, it was drilled into my head, “Never allow yourself to be photographed topless or nude. Ever!” Now here I sit, in my 50’s, getting ready for a photo shoot that will subsequently allow 2.7 MILLION people to see me topless! See my tattooed foobs, über up close!

“Holy Christmas On A Popsicle Stick, Batgirl!”

I’ll be honest, a part of me is scared to death to do this photo shoot. But, here’s the deal. If Molly was willing to be a maverick, have a documentary film made of her entire tattoo experience — so it could some day end up benefiting possibly millions of mastectomy scar survivors? How could I, who is honored with being P.INK’s “Number Nine,” — How could I not don my “Audacious Boots” and further her vision?

Tomorrow my ever adorable hairdresser, Annie, will be helping me make sense of my strewn about wardrobe; will style my hair; and, will also be my makeup artist. Hopefully, the camera will be kind.

But seriously, I repeat … “Holy Christmas On A Popsicle Stick, Batgirl!”

This year on October 10th, numerous tattoo shops all over the United States will be holding a “P.INK Day.” If you would, please donate whatever you can to Personal P.INK, to help defer the costs of providing more mastectomy scar survivors the opportunity to receive a free tattoo. Speaking from being personally blessed by such donations from strangers, allow me to thank you in advance for whomever it is your donation will bless.

 

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